'Design Discussion' Category

Magic is Irresistible

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

 

For a couple sessions now, I’ve been wondering exactly how to handle spells in my OSR project. I feel like Magic-user spells in particular should be “overpowered” in the sense that they just work. No saves against the effects. Magic-user casts Charm Person? They are now your best friend. Until the effect wears off, at least. Sleep? Goodnight, sweetheart, have a great nap.

Because Magic-users are dangerous. Scary. What they command, just happens. That’s the whole schtick of the Magic-user. It’s why peasants and kings alike fear and distrust them.

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Roll-to-Hit Plus

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

 

Fighters don’t get to do a whole lot of fun tactical things, or even just showy extra things, for being the main combatants and damage-dealers in D&D. Roll-to-hit and add your strength, roll damage if you hit…and that’s really all the fighter can do. Now, that “just one thing” is important, since an adventuring party relies on the fighter to keep everyone else alive. But it can also get boring quickly when wizards and clerics can throw spells around to cause neat effects, and rogues can pull off various beneficial tricks like hiding and safely running away screaming.

But Fighters have the best hit dice and the widest access to weapons and armor in the game, which seems like a decent trade-off for being weapon-swinging robots. Except that gaming isn’t all about the numbers, and fighters need a tiny bit of jazz added. So I did.

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Shield & Staff

Monday, October 1st, 2018

 

Shields are often underrated in play, so I thought for a while how to better express their general historical combat utility without overpowering them in comparison to weapons, and came up with something I thought could make them a little more useful (a solution I later learned others had also arrived at): sacrificing a shield to avoid damage.

What this means is when you have a shield equipped and are successfully struck in combat, before damage is rolled you can decide to sacrifice your shield to block the damage. This destroys the shield, but the attack is treated instead as a miss. A magical shield can be sacrificed one additional time per plus before being destroyed. Sacrifices cannot be “repaired”, however.

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All About That Mace

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

 

One of the things that always bothered me about D&D-ish games were the “variable dice for weapon damage” rules, not necessarily because of concerns about “realism”, but because there didn’t seem to be any particularly meaningful trade-offs in not picking the biggest weapon you could. I’m looking at you, two-handed sword.[1]

It always made me wonder:

  • Why would a fighter take anything but a two-handed sword (d10)?
  • Why would they take a shortsword (d6) instead of a sword (d8)?
  • Why fight with a dagger (d4) at all if you didn’t have to?

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1st-Level Wizardry

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018

 

I’ve recently gotten back into regular gaming after a years-long hiatus, and am playing with a group almost entirely new to gaming in general. We’re running an OSR mash-up of the Elmore Red Box and 5th Edition, starting at 1st level, and having a darn good time of it. But even experienced gamers forget how things work when they haven’t played a particular game for thirty-some years.

One of the things I had only vaguely remembered, in an intellectual way, is that in the basic game, 1st-level wizards are one-hit wonders. To be fair, they are powerful one-hit wonders. But it leaves wizard characters with very little to do once they’ve fired off their single spell — besides running, hiding, and waiting for the fighters to mop up.

This was proving to be a frustration for our wizard players.

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