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View Full Version : [D&D 3.5] Bringing sanity back to combat (or stories on might, magic & polymorping)



Eldariel
2009-02-19, 10:46 PM
Premise: AD&D 2nd Edition (will henceforth be referred to as simply AD&D) combat worked rather well. Spellcasters had a bunch of awesome spells, with the more powerful ones having either possible drawbacks or additional price. Fighters had their weapons that they grew more and more skilled with, eventually simply being learning to open more chances to damage the opponent; more attacks. Rogues just had a bunch of unique skills and...yea. Turns were taken simultaneously and as long as actions were reasonable, they were taken. Everyone learned new skills depending on how hard their class was to master; the hardest classes were the strongest in per-level comparison but simply never were on the same level as the others, keeping the world fair.

3.0 came along and things changed. Spellcasters' spells lost pretty much all of the drawbacks and the whole "spell materials"-idea was reduced to "pay 200 gold for a bunch of spell material pouches and you'll have everything". Fighters still keep growing more skilled with weapons...but so does everyone else (oh, and Dragons have no problem biting you, clawing you, wingslapping you and tailslapping you in 6 seconds; seems against their physiology...oh, but if they opted to spend all that time biting you, they'd only bite once 'cause it has a recharge time...or something). Rogues still have a bunch of unique skills and nothing has changed (except nowadays spells do half of those things just as well). Turns are taken in order which means that the world is frozen (except for the crappy attempt at a fix that is "attack of opportunity") while someone takes an action, allowing walking between two angry Orcs, mooning at them, insulting their mother and then stunning them with a Color Spray while they can only try to insult you back (but you can't hear them since it's your turn and thus your speech is the loudest). Oh, and everyone gains levels at the same pace, but the former "slower classes" haven't had their progressions slowed down at all.

Synopsis (also TL;DR version): What went wrong with 3.5 in my opinion? Well, the biggest problems are the following five:
1. Spellcasters still have powerful effects, but the associated costs are gone.
2. Melee characters' shtick was given to everyone equally.
3. Natural creatures are more skilled at hurting people than trained combatants (but not as good as untrained combatants turning into said creatures with no practice in that creature's abilities).
4. Combat changed from real-time to turn-based and a turn lasts 6 seconds, which means that everyone has 6 seconds to end the world when nobody can bother them.
5. Every level for every class is equally long. However, the classes that formerly gained levels slower haven't had their level-by-level progression slowed down at all meaning they get the abilities much faster than in AD&D, while the fast-progressing classes get them at the same rate as in AD&D.

All of the problems need to be addressed separately, but they all contribute to the fact that full BAB (formerly warrior) characters just aren't as special as they used to be.

Solutions:
1.
The spell list from AD&D contains many of the same spells as the spell list from 3.5. It is simple enough to just use the AD&D version of the same spells. Many of the spells that did not exist in AD&D are similar enough to simply go with the original version. For example, AD&D version of Shapechange is as follows:

"Turn into any creature below demigod or specific dragon type status. Gain abilities except those that depend on the creature's Intelligence, innate magical abilities and magic resistance."

5000 gp jade circlet that shatters after used, lasts 1 round/level. Compare it to the 3.5 version and the 5000 gp material component becomes a 1500 gp material focus (infinitely usable), spell duration becomes 10 minutes/level and you are able to acquire, among others, many abilities dependent on the creature's intelligence; everything but it's spell-like abilities. It's easy to see what went wrong here (everything).

Likewise, AD&D Gate places the called creature under no obligation to do anything for you and only helps as far as alingment/similar goes. Also ages you 5 years.


If you lack an AD&D rules book, I suggest acquiring one through some means. Borrowing it (online or offline, your choice) or buying it (just the "AD&D Second Edition Player's Handbook" will do) is probably the best course of action.


Mayhap offering a Concentration-check (Spellcraft favors Int-casters too much) vs. 10+Spell Level x 2 for each spell and failure meaning botching the spell up somehow (still getting some effect, but not the intended one) could work, mayhap with automatic failure on 1. You could accidentially cause your spell to appear at the wrong location or wrong target or have a lesser or a greater effect than normally; simple stuff.

A more complete fix would be writing all spells of relevance with a drawback, but since the "mistakes" are pretty easy to figure out (spells requiring targeting can be mistargeted, spells creating obstacles can alter it in a wrong way, spells blocking an area can be malformed or placed, spells moving objects can move to the wrong places or make an incomplete moving leaving an item behind, spells that trigger on a condition can trigger on a wrong condition instead, etc.), and it'd be more work than I've got time for, I'm not the one to do that.

Note: This assumes that skill-boosting custom magic items stay far away from the game and that all other magical and mundane boosts are limited to +5 competence outside feat-bonuses; even the best Marshal can't inspire you to do something that's impossible with your physique.

2.
This problem is a complex one. Previously, only Fighters got good enough to get additional attacks. Now it's tied to BAB (a good idea as it functions with the multiclassing) and everyone gets some, Fighters just get more. However, the latter the attack, the less relevant it is due to the attack penalty making your new abilities worse, the higher you get (kind of bizarre really; did they think you make the iteratives on your old skill or something? Or are you just so hasty with the additionals that they don't hit? Or wtf.). Oh, and everyone can easily get as many attacks as fighters with a 4-level dip. So Fighter 4/X 16 is going to be as good as Fighter 20 at this. Let's fix:
-The new iterative (the last one) always start at -5. Mechanically, the penalty makes the iteratives just less relevant; kinda sucks when it's your primary class feature, huh?

So all iteratives start at -5. And first iterative on BAB 5. Then every 5 BAB thereafter. Why wouldn't a Fighter who dedicates his life to fighting be better than a Rogue who went through Fighter training and then dealt with shady dealings the rest of his career? Additional iterative on 20 rewards full BAB characters for sticking through.

The level after, the iterative goes to -4. Then to -3. Then to -2. Then to -1. And when you get a new iterative, the old one is at -0. So only your last attack ever has penalties. Makes more sense this way too; if a Fighter has multiple chances to damage opponent in a span of time, his skill does not magically evaporate when attacking.


The increased importance of BAB needs the following rule though: No temporary effect can change the wielder's BAB. Same already applies to skill ranks (except for that one superexpensive feat), base saves and casting class level. BAB is in the same line. So Divine Power can grant bonus to hit, but does not change BAB. Skillful weapon can allow you to gain bonus to hit equal to the difference between your BAB and medium BAB of your level, but does not change your BAB. Etc.

3.
3.0 did a great job bringing all creatures to the same line and under same rules in terms of most effects. The one thing they failed in though was attacks; natural weapon rules not only are completely different from manufactured weapons, but convoluted, weird, and completely trivialize the importance of BAB. Let's try to do something about that:

-A used natural weapons pair/group is treated like multi-weapon fighting. A creature with a pair or more of natural weapons of the same type, it can attack with them both/all as one attack action, at a penalty for that attack action equal to the number of attacks it uses (so -2 for two, -3 for three, -4 for 4, etc.).

-A creature with multiple types of natural weapons can choose, which weapon group to use for each attack action provided that that weapon group can reach the opponent.

-A weapon group with one weapon deals damage as a two-handed weapon.
A weapon group with two weapons deals damage as one-handed weapons.
A weapon group with three or more weapons deals damage as light weapons, but they are treated as one-handed for Power Attack.

Creatures can always Power Attack with natural weapons, but the Power Attack-damage bonus is always of what it would be for a manufactured weapon (so 1-for-1 for one-weapon groups and 1-for-2 for multi-weapon groups).

-If the creature has a bite-attack or a similar attack done with an auxillary limb and the creature or the head enters opponent's square (such as in a grapple, moving when opponent is tripped, succeeding a bullrush attempt with the head or similar), the creature can do a bonus Bite-attack in lieu of its normal attack action.

-Pounce means that as one attack action at the end of a charge, the character can make an attack with all properly aligned natural weapons (such as Bite+Claw+Claw for a Dragon).

-Wing-attacks deal double damage when doing a flying charge past a creature. Other than that, they're usually too wieldy, except to hit characters moving past you.

-Only a creature with humanoid hands or a specific mention can use standard weapons. Some special weapons may be designed by non-humanoids, which are similarly unusable for humanoids and available to that creature type.
Concerning shapechanging:
-If creature's form isn't natural, using multiple weapons in one action requires the multi-weapon fighting feat, or the character suffers normal penalties for fighting with multiple weapons without proficiency (-4/-10 - 2 per weapon beyond two).

-If the shapechanger has not practiced the use of his new form, he suffers penalties due to the unfamiliarity with the use of the present body (unless the body is exceedingly similar to one he already knows, such as a Human changing into an Elf):

*Non-proficiency penalty of -4 on all attacks and special attack rolls, such as grapple, trip, disarm or sunder.

*All movement-speeds reduced to half and can only run at half the speed. Initially the creature cannot use any natural movement modes of the new form.

*The shapechanger is treated as having armor check penalty -4.

*The shapechanger cannot properly communicate with anything initially. The shapechanger can learn a creature's language through the Speak Language-skill once he is proficient in the form (this requires extensive time spent in that form and some method of actually learning the said form of communication), but unless the form can normally speak, the shapechanger can never speak other languages in that form.

*-2 penalty on all physical stats.

Alternate Shape-skill:
Character can acquire proficiency in a form through a month of practice exclusively in that form. This is represented through the "Alternate Shape"-skill, which is a class skill for classes with a Wildshape-type ability and crossclass for everyone else; mastering a form requires 4 ranks in this skill. All creatures with natural shape mimicking abilities, such as Doppelgangers and Changelings, treat this always as a class skill.

Every rank represents a week's worth of 8-hours-per-day practice and reduces all the penalties by 1/4 rounded down and acquires one extraordinary special attack or movement types (at the same penalties as normally) of the said form.

So a shapechanger with 1 rank in "Alternate Shape" towards Tiger can attack at -3, move at the speed of 25' and use one of the creature's special attacks; Improved Grab, Rake or Pounce.

Two ranks would allow the shapechanger to use a second ability and reduce the penalties to -2 and move at the speed of 30'. Penalties to physical stats are reduced to -1.

Three ranks would allow the shapechanger all of Tiger's special attacks, -1 on attack rolls and a speed of 35'.

Finally, fourth rank would mean mastery of the Tiger-form. All the penalties are 0 and provided a suitable means to learn communication (say, practicing admidst tame or wild tigers, or using magical replicas), the character learns to talk. Also, if the creature in question has more than 4 extraordinary special attacks and movement modes, the character masters all the additionals.


Whenever a character takes a rank in Alternate Shape, he must decide whether this goes towards a new creature or an old one. If character wants to study a creature over and beyond the limit his present capacity on Alternate Shape allows, each new rank instead replaces an old rank; in effect, he overwrites his experience as a creature with his experience as another.

-All form-altering abilities and spells need to be adjusted to limit the bonuses they can grant. Whenever using a class-based ability to change form such as Wildshape, the character faces the following limitations:

-The character does not always gain full ability modifiers from his new form. Instead, he gains modifiers appropriate to the creature up to a maximum of his class level as enhancement bonus. So a level 10 Druid changing into a Brown Bear only gets +5 Enhancement on his Strength instead of gaining Strength 26, or +16 to his existing Strength. The Druid also only gains +5 enhancement to his Constitution. As enhancement bonus, this grants the Druid extra hitpoints normally. These hitpoints are lost last (as if using Con-boosting item) and if he changes shape to a form with less Con-bonus while only having the bonus hitpoints left, he will die.

-Magic items change to match the new shape if possible and keep functioning. Normal items are melded. Magic weapons and similars are likewise melded.

-Normal Wildshape never grants Extraordinary or Supernatural non-attack abilities. If the shapechanger gains the ability to acquire such abilities (such as Master of Many Form's Extraordinary Wildshape), he can acquire as many of the form's appropriate Extraordinary or Supernatural (if e.g. using Assume Supernatural Ability) Abilities as the effect allows, provided that he succeeds a Knowledge-check to know about those abilities (the DC is 10+creature's base HD+5 for each ability; DM decides the order in which the shapechanger learns about those abilities).

So for example, to learn enough of Troll's Regeneration to acquire it, a Master of Many Forms 7 could attempt a Knowledge: Nature-check of DC 10+6+5 = 21. If he succeeds, he knows enough about Troll's Regeneration to create it in his spell. If he fails, he does not. If the shapechanger has failed such a Knowledge-check on this particular creature, he cannot attempt again without further study on the subject (a rank in the appropriate Knowledge or simply doing a week's worth of research with a subject, or through sources such as books).

Likewise, to learn more about a creature (after succeeding a check on one of creature's abilities, but wanting to learn multiples), the shapechanger can try again after study (as defined above), and if his check exceeds last check+5, he learns an additional ability. So if our Druid beats DC26, he could also add low-light vision to his Troll-form. If he fails the old DC, however, he does not magically "forget" anything. The character cannot make this check before changing shape though, so our Master of Many Forms couldn't try to learn applying a trait on Trolls before using Giant Wildshape into one (the check is made as the Wildshape is first used).

Abilities relying on multiple minds or abilities that grant spellcasting or spell-like abilities can never be learned.


A spellcaster works the same way, except his limit is his caster level instead of his wildshape-level and normal items fall to the ground when Polymorph-type spell is cast, rather than meld with his new form. The Polymorph-line has the same limitations as Wildshape; it never grants Extraordinary or Supernatural Abilities without a feat to that end.

4.
Turn-system actually works just fine with everyone taking their turn at the same time. You just tell your DM what actions you intend on doing and once everyone's actions are in, the DM plays the turn out. An action can be something like "I block the Orc's passage and attack him" or "I charge at the spellcaster." If the said Orc was charging the spellcaster and a Fighter was trying to block him, if the Fighter's move-speed is high enough to interpose between the Orc and the spellcaster before the Orc has moved past the interception point, the Orc runs headfirst into the Fighter and either attacks him instead or tries to Overrun/Bullrush him (when action becomes invalid, DM asks for changes from the intercepted player). If the Fighter reaches the interception point when Orc is right in front of him (running past), he can attack the Orc or try to Bullrush/Trip him (stopping the movement). If he fails, he follows the Orc, but the Orc gets to the spellcaster and provided that he was at most a move action away, hits the caster before he has finished the spell (forcing Concentration).

-If a creature runs past you and you have Combat Reflexes or unoccupied (that is, not-attacking), properly lined natural weapons (such as Dragon's wings and tail when someone tries to run past him), you can make attacks of opportunity as normal while completing your own action. Of course, "hitting everyone who runs past me" is a perfectly valid action too, which would have you hitting people running past you for as long as you have attack actions left.

-Characters can take a full attack as a standard action.

-Characters can move before and after their standard actions. They aren't struck by idiocy immediately when they're done with whatever they were doing.

-When attacking a creature, the character isn't considered threatened by that creature. This grants no special protection against other creatures

-An attack takes about the same time as 5' of movement from a 30' speed character. This does not grant characters extra chances to damage a target (every strike isn't a damaging strike), but it does determine how many attacks of opportunity a character can do in any span of time (so if someone runs away and you are not running after him, you can only get one good hit in with 5' reach until he's outside your reach).

-Standard action takes about the same time as moving 30' for a creature with movement speed of 30'.

-Immediate actions can be used while the turn plays out. Swift actions have to be pre-determined like the other abilities. Unlike normally, character has to skip the present turn's swift action to have an immediate action open.

-Character can take a swift action instead of a standard action. Move action cannot be replaced in such a manner.

5.
Slowing the slowest classes down is the obvious solution. However, it would mean a much larger rework than is rational. Instead, giving the faster classes more class features seems like the way to go to represent that as the things they pick up are less difficult, they pick up more of them. Instead of doing redundant crap, I'll just refer you to any number of Fighter/Barbarian/Ranger/Rogue/Monk/whatever reworks you can find in these forums or anywhere else and use them. The work has been done well; no point in redoing it all.


There, with those rules in place, the most glaring problems should be gone. It's amazing how many balancing AD&D rules can be used almost as-is in 3.X and they still work just as well as so long ago. The game makes more sense and should even be more enjoyable. They shouldn't be hard to remember; the actual changes can be summarised to:
Regarding Magic:
-AD&D versions of spells are used, if not available, refer to the closest AD&D equivalent and work from there.

Regarding Iteratives:
-Iteratives BAB 5 and every 5 BAB thereafter, all done at full attack bonus, except the last acquired.

-When you get a new iterative, it's at -5. For every point of BAB thereafter, the penalty is reduced by 1 until the it disappears when the next attack is acquired.

-Nothing changes BAB.

Regarding Natural Attacks:
-Natural attacks are grouped into groups of same weapons (so two claws is one group, one bite is one group, etc.). Groups with more than 1 weapon have TWF penalties -1 for each additional weapon. Attacking with one group is one attack action. Same with attacking with two weapons.

-Natural weapons Power Attack for half the normal PA damage. Groups with one weapon have 1-1 PA returns, groups with more have 1-2 PA returns.

-Bite can be used as a bonus attack when grappling, in tripped character's space, bullrushing with head, or otherwise the head ends up in opponent's square (creatures with lunging heads such as Dragons can therefore easily include a Bite in their attack routine even if using only claws).

-Wings deal double damage on a flying charge.

Regarding Polymorph:
-You aren't initially proficient with forms when changing shape taking -4 to attacks and armor check penalty, and moving at speed with none of its special abilities. Alternate Shape-skill is added; 4 points allows mastery of new form (including the form's mundane form of communication) and each points allows learning one extraordinary special attack.

-Polymorph-line never grants non-attack special abilities of any kind without class features or feats that allow it. Further, you can never learn spellcasting, spell-likes or abilities that rely on multiple minds.

-With feats to gain such abilities, the character must succeed a Knowledge-check on the creature learning at least one ability to apply that to his shapeshift. Failed check cannot be attempted again until either gaining an additional rank in the Knowledge, or doing at least a week's worth of research on either a subject, or other sources (such as written or other creatures, if the knowledge exists) on the said subject.

-Shapechanging effects can only grant stat bonuses equal to of the effect level (Wildshapers' Wildshape level, spellcasters' caster level, etc.) and the bonus is applied on top of character's normal stats as enhancement.

Regarding Combat and Turns:
-Instead of taking individual turns, all characters give actions and take turns simultaneously. Immediate action can be taken while turn takes place (requires saving your swift action though). If a character's action is interrupted, the DM can ask him what to do with the remainder of his turns.

-Character isn't threatened by creature he's attacking.

-Moving 5' at 30' speed takes about the same time as one attack.

-Character can replace his standard action with swift action.

-Creature with Combat Reflexes or natural weapons not being used right now can take attacks of opportunity at passing creatures as normal.

-You may full attack as a standard action.

-Characters can move before or after their standard action.

Regarding experience:
-Non-spellcaster classes should use an alternative build that grants more class features. This reflects their faster XP growth in AD&D.

LordZarth
2009-02-19, 10:54 PM
But a turn isn't six seconds. A round is. All the turns that happen, for ease of play, in order, actually occur all at once.

Eldariel
2009-02-19, 11:16 PM
But a turn isn't six seconds. A round is. All the turns that happen, for ease of play, in order, actually occur all at once.

A round is a turn for each character. So a round is 6 seconds, as is each turn. They are all supposed to occur simultaneously, but they are taken individually, which ****s up things (for example, which is why spellcasting can't be interrupted short of Mage Slayer+reach+ways to stop opponent from moving ('cause he'll just move away from a readied action), and why Fighter can't block a creature intent on moving past him and so on).

ericgrau
2009-02-19, 11:30 PM
Wait, why not just play 2e with perhaps a couple minor 3.5ism's added in? Like BAB instead of THAC0 maybe. That seems like the easier way to do this.

I'm wary about inventing entire new systems and expecting them to work. But this has made me think about finding a 2e group and giving it a whirl.

rampaging-poet
2009-02-19, 11:50 PM
Hmm, I'll have to take a closer look at this when I'm not on a time limit, but it looks pretty good. Complicated at first glance, but good.

I do at some point want to run a game with some AD&D rules, though I think I might go in a bit of a different direction. Specifically, I doubt I'd bother with a Concentration check for spellcasting.
Instead, I'd bring back the idea of spells taking time to cast. Each spell would go off (spell level) lower in the initiative count than its caster. If someone hits the caster or otherwise distracts them during that time, they make a Concentration check as usual for the disruption.

The simultaneous turns could be a little tricky at times, but mostly seem to be a good idea. As simple compromise for those unwilling to give up their stop-time rounds, one could rule that characters still get their actions on the round they're killed.
For example, a fighter sees an orc with and beats its initiative roll, then charges at it. The orc has five hit points and the fighter dealt 15 damage with his magic greatsword. However, it doesn't fall over right now. Because turns are simultaneous, it still gets to swing its axe at the fighter. The wind blows and kicks up some dust while they both wait for initiative count zero, and then the orc keels over.

Absolutely everything else is made of win. :smallcool:

Eldariel
2009-02-19, 11:53 PM
Wait, why not just play 2e with perhaps a couple minor 3.5ism's added in? Like BAB instead of THAC0 maybe. That seems like the easier way to do this.

Mostly the fact that I find additional 3.5 material, 3.5 basic system and 3.5 idea much better:
-3.5 has Psionics, ToB, Incarnum & Binding. All of those are awesome systems that are just really hard to AD&Dize.
-Every monster uses the same rules set making it quick'n'easy to make new monsters, advance old, assess their powers, have monstrous PCs, have monsters with levels, etc.
-Multiclassing is simple, logical, no frills, no stupid rules.
-Skill system overall; it has its flaws, but it's a great generic system. Oh, and skill tricks. Best invention ever.
-Feat system and overall, having the basic skeleton of advancement same for each class. The levels fell wrong (mostly 'cause they changed none of that), but the idea that all classes acquire levels at the same speed, gain feats and stat increases on the same levels and so on is far superior to AD&D in my opinion (not to mention, only it can really enable 3.5-style multiclassing).
-Linear stat system without a cap instead of an exponential stat system with random stuff added for higher stats and big monsters being "unstattable 'cause system doesn't go this high".
-No f*cking percentile str. For real.


These are very definitely only changes to 3.5; the only things taken from AD&D are the things I consider to be lost-in-translation - the spells & turn system. Turn system especially is a cultrip to just about every problem in 3.5.

The lesser changes that can't be returned to 2.0, but can be corrected, are level gaining and extra attacks/BAB.

The Wildshape-stuff is something I've been thinking of for a long time and trying to work into my games. I think the version I wrote up here is very functional, allowing for form changing and making forms you've mastered rather powerful, but still enabling Humanoid Warriors to match up to Multi-Natural Weapon Monstrosity-version of himself.


And go for the AD&D-group; the game is awesome and the experience not something to be missed. But I've always found a ton of things in both, AD&D 2nd Edition and 3.5 that I love and wanted to combine them into one, awesome game; that's what I'm going for here - maintaining 3.5's awesome while adding AD&D's awesome that happens to fix 3.5's not-so-awesome at the same time.



Hmm, I'll have to take a closer look at this when I'm not on a time limit, but it looks pretty good. Complicated at first glance, but good.

I do at some point want to run a game with some AD&D rules, though I think I might go in a bit of a different direction. Specifically, I doubt I'd bother with a Concentration check for spellcasting.
Instead, I'd bring back the idea of spells taking time to cast. Each spell would go off (spell level) lower in the initiative count than its caster. If someone hits the caster or otherwise distracts them during that time, they make a Concentration check as usual for the disruption.

The simultaneous turns could be a little tricky at times, but mostly seem to be a good idea. As simple compromise for those unwilling to give up their stop-time rounds, one could rule that characters still get their actions on the round they're killed.
For example, a fighter sees an orc with and beats its initiative roll, then charges at it. The orc has five hit points and the fighter dealt 15 damage with his magic greatsword. However, it doesn't fall over right now. Because turns are simultaneous, it still gets to swing its axe at the fighter. The wind blows and kicks up some dust while they both wait for initiative count zero, and then the orc keels over.

Absolutely everything else is made of win. :smallcool:

I totally forgot to write up how I envision initiative working in this system; movement starts instantly, but the characters with lower initiative "lose" competitive actions. For example, two guys hit each other, the guy with the higher initiative hits first and if that stops the opponent's hit (through killing, stunning or whatever him), the other guy doesn't hit, and if the other guy gets tripped or whatever, then he takes appropriate penalties.

Spellcaster starts casting a spell, melee guy runs up to hit him; if the spellcaster's initiative is sufficiently higher (I agree with bringing AD&D casting times into the mix, or just for the sake of simplicity giving Standard Action-spells casting time of 10, round-spells casting time of 20 (as they should be interruptable almost always) and swift action spells casting time of 1), the spell goes off before the melee guy hits him, but if the melee guy's initiative is above caster's initiative - casting time, he's in time to interrupt the spell and smack the guy upside the head.

Maybe make having to take move action first lower your initiative by 5 for the attack or so; this means that a guy next to a wizard is more threatening than the guy 30' away, but both do matter depending on their initiative vs. the Wizard's initiative. This'd also allow for weapon speed rules, of course. But as a little departure from AD&D, I want to handle the movement simultaneously and just determine conflicting actions through initiative. Seems cooler and more logical that way.


Also, thanks! Glad if someone likes it all. Feel free to point out any omissions/mistakes/problems you see and I'll see if I could do something about it (or if you suggest fixes).

Arcane_Snowman
2009-02-20, 01:35 AM
Actually, I really, really, really like the initative idea, to the extend that I'm going to snag it for my next campaign.

If I've understood the iterative attack rules, a full bab character would look as follows: +20/+20/+20/+11

3/4 would be: +15/+15/+10

and 1/2 would be: +10/+10

Am I wrong?

Daracaex
2009-02-20, 01:45 AM
Nice ideas here, but I'm not sure how well this "real-time" combat will work. It might be too much complication, trying to figure out who goes before what. Also, remember that the DM has to control quite a few enemies at any one time. I haven't played with non-turn-based combat before, though, so I'd have to look into things first.

What about instead splitting rounds in half? You get one standard action each round. This way, characters with higher initiative can move away or attack someone before they can move away. You still get the same effect, but now things are significantly less confusing. Of course, then there'd be no more full attacks available.

Really, I don't think this is the kind of system that can handle such a large change to its mechanics. You change this one thing, and you'll have to change a ton of others.

I like your casting time mechanic and, if its all right, I think I might use it in my game. Slightly modified, of course.

Eldariel
2009-02-20, 02:17 AM
If I've understood the iterative attack rules, a full bab character would look as follows: +20/+20/+20/+11

3/4 would be: +15/+15/+10

and 1/2 would be: +10/+10

Am I wrong?

Level 20 would be:
+20/+20/+20/+20/+15 for full BAB (an extra attack comes out of moving them down one level meaning you get a 5th on level 20; since it only comes on level 20 though, I'm betting the book keeping won't be much of a hassle)

+15/+15/+15/+10 for medium BAB

+10/+10/+5 for low BAB

When you get a new attack, it starts out at -5 and then the penalty is reduced by 1 point for every level. The system is designed thusly that the last level of non-Epic progression grants an extra attack for single-classed characters...sort of as a "carrot" for full BAB.

The extra attack was necessary to keep the full BAB types ahead for the whole progression from 1 to 20. The big question I've got is how to make ToB-types cope with that change. Maybe take a page out of AD&D and use attacks instead... (for the uninitiated, AD&D had so that at certain level as a Fighter, you had 1 attacks - first turn you did 1, then 2, then 1 and so on - it was rather functional) I'll have to sleep on this.


Nice ideas here, but I'm not sure how well this "real-time" combat will work. It might be too much complication, trying to figure out who goes before what. Also, remember that the DM has to control quite a few enemies at any one time. I haven't played with non-turn-based combat before, though, so I'd have to look into things first.

What about instead splitting rounds in half? You get one standard action each round. This way, characters with higher initiative can move away or attack someone before they can move away. You still get the same effect, but now things are significantly less confusing. Of course, then there'd be no more full attacks available.

Really, I don't think this is the kind of system that can handle such a large change to its mechanics. You change this one thing, and you'll have to change a ton of others.

Well, as you see, I did change a ton of other stuff too :) Luckily 3.5's action-system gives me pretty simple tools with which to determine how "long" each action is thus making for easy order on how to determine when everything happens. The system worked fine in AD&D so I'd imagine it should work here too; in AD&D, everyone gave DM a description of what they did for the turn and then DM played the turn out.

And yea, it's more work for the DM, but as the DM has all players' turns to figure out the adversaries actions (and most actions should be pretty natural too; this kind of system removes the need to measure exactly how much movement you have and so on, the DM can just pull approximate out of his hat, move you around where you described and your action takes place - even better if your action is something like "Block X's movement" 'cause then everything is clear). The biggest advantage though is that suddenly Fighter-types don't need any feats to control opponents movement; they can place their bulk right in the opponent's way.

And that half-turn idea actually sounds intriguing. It however does cut into the purpose of these changes; the idea was that a character isn't penalized for moving (for all intents and purposes, he can take most actions while moving). This results in more mobile combat and so on. Cutting the game down to Standard Actions would mean that the guy sitting in his place gets twice more spells in the same time, and the guy hacking stationarily gets twice the attacks.

Presently both are limited to one X that action and can take movement action on each turn too. This pretty much means that movement is "free" for them simply making things much more mobile. I'm not sure if we can make it work, but the simplicity is always good so I think it's something to consider.


I like your casting time mechanic and, if its all right, I think I might use it in my game. Slightly modified, of course.

I wouldn't have posted it if it weren't alright; knock yourself out and I hope you have a blast! :smallwink:

Draz74
2009-02-20, 02:19 AM
So the new BAB column for the Fighter table looks like: Edit - ninja'd!

+1
+2
+3
+4
+5/+0
+6/+2
+7/+4
+8/+6
+9/+8
+10/+10/+5
+11/+11/+7
+12/+12/+9
+13/+13/+11
+14/+14/+13
+15/+15/+15/+10
+16/+16/+16/+12
+17/+17/+17/+14
+18/+18/+18/+16
+19/+19/+19/+18
+20/+20/+20/+20/+15

That's ... definitely a lot more powerful, and an interesting idea. I might adopt something like that for my system, if I weren't getting rid of iterative attacks anyway.

I was excited to read your fix for overly turn-based combat, but what you've come up with seems much too open to interpretation and debate. Maybe I'm just misunderstanding it (I'm tired), but I think I'd rather fix the Attack of Opportunity rules to make them more meaningful or something.

Using AD&D spells works great in some cases, like Shapechange. I think there are some times that it won't be such a great solution, though. Like Haste ... it got used offensively more than as a buff. ("Yeah, you might get faster at fighting from this spell ... but you also might just keel over and die due to System Shock, and even if you survive that, you'll be a year older, which sucks.")

I totally agree about the stupidity of natural attacks being handled completely differently from other attacks. :smallyuk:

Eldariel
2009-02-20, 02:47 AM
That's ... definitely a lot more powerful, and an interesting idea. I might adopt something like that for my system, if I weren't getting rid of iterative attacks anyway.

That's the other option: using something like maneuvers making melee much more brutal without the hassle that is additional attacks.


I was excited to read your fix for overly turn-based combat, but what you've come up with seems much too open to interpretation and debate. Maybe I'm just misunderstanding it (I'm tired), but I think I'd rather fix the Attack of Opportunity rules to make them more meaningful or something.

Well, it starts with the idea that the DM says what happens and others listen. The AoO rules really just mean that if you run past a guy with a sword (or a Dragon with its tail/wings at ready), a skilled combatant (or a Dragon) can spare a blow for you while going about his fights. It's simply there to point out that the guy with the pointy stick is dangerous.

I think they fit fine to be honest. A guy who knows how to stick the pointy end of a sword to an enemy is someone you don't want to get near even if he's currently busy ignoring you since that sword might end up in your gut if you go too close and let down your guard (e.g. provoke an AoO). And since the DM handles the whole stuff, it's pretty trivial for him to see when someone passes a hostile (or well, leaves a hostile's threatened square) and thus provokes.

If you end up using them in practice, get back to me and share your experiences; I'm sure problems can be ironed out (even if it means killing mechanics). I really, really believe the game should've had a real-time turn-based combat to begin with. The game is so tailor-made for them and they fix so much ridicule and stupidity it's not even funny.


I'll try to make a super-simplified rules set for the suggested combat-system in near future for ease of use.


Using AD&D spells works great in some cases, like Shapechange. I think there are some times that it won't be such a great solution, though. Like Haste ... it got used offensively more than as a buff. ("Yeah, you might get faster at fighting from this spell ... but you also might just keel over and die due to System Shock, and even if you survive that, you'll be a year older, which sucks.")

This is a very good point. As I still don't intend on rewriting the whole crap (or even go spell-by-spell; writing this took me three hours so going through all D&D spells would probably take me about 200 years which is about 100 too much), I'm going to have to say "DM discretion adviced". Incidentially, 3.5 Haste is perfectly fair and one of the better balanced spells in the game. Although adding just a bit of system shock chance there can't hurt. :smallamused:

PinkysBrain
2009-02-20, 06:08 AM
A round is a turn for each character. So a round is 6 seconds, as is each turn. They are all supposed to occur simultaneously, but they are taken individually, which ****s up things (for example, which is why spellcasting can't be interrupted short of Mage Slayer+reach+ways to stop opponent from moving ('cause he'll just move away from a readied action)
Not really ...

and why Fighter can't block a creature intent on moving past him and so on).
Again not really ...

The actions in AD&D happen no more simultaneously than in 3e ... the initiative order is simply unknown when actions are chosen. But that isn't really the issue here ... what causes the differences in these two cases are that casting times can be shorter than 1 round and there is no equivalent to follow/block on withdraw.

PS. how does random catastrophic failure and/or aging really provide a balancing force for magic? All that does is make you chose between using those spells and just accepting that your character won't be long for this world, or not using those spells.

lesser_minion
2009-02-20, 09:20 AM
I think there is a point to cutting aging out of the game.

A possible way to slow down advancement for wizards could be to rule something along the lines of (note: this is intentionally far more than really required for game balance, but it could be toned down to form the basis of a fix. I don't like wizards):

The XP cost to learn a spell is equal to 1000 + 2000(spell level - 1). 0-level spells do not cost XP to learn, and are not part of the formula To gain a level, you must also have learned at least two spells within one level of the highest level spell you can cast (minimum 1st level) Some spells represent incredibly complicated magical rituals. If a spell has an XP cost or material component, the GP and XP costs to learn it are increased by 100 x the cost (e.g. it takes 67000 xp to learn Wish) A spell with an XP cost or expensive material component also uses an expensive material component in casting. This should be worth 1/100th the spell's total cost to learn Spell-like abilities do cost XP. The DM is not required to keep track of the XP costs paid by monsters or NPCs. Material components are replaced by an equal XP cost. Foci are not necessary, and a body part from a creature with a spell-like ability may be used once as a focus or material component for the same spell(no corpse has more than two usable body parts for this purpose, regardless of size - the DM may decide which body parts must be used)
There is no mundane or magical method that can force a creature to spend or lose XP. This prevents characters from compelling efreeti to grant wishes and so on.

Roderick_BR
2009-02-20, 10:38 AM
A round is a turn for each character. So a round is 6 seconds, as is each turn. They are all supposed to occur simultaneously, but they are taken individually, which ****s up things (for example, which is why spellcasting can't be interrupted short of Mage Slayer+reach+ways to stop opponent from moving ('cause he'll just move away from a readied action), and why Fighter can't block a creature intent on moving past him and so on).
Technically, AD&D doesn't have rules to interrupt spellcasting (other than using your action while the caster is casting something that requires more than one round to cast, as in 3.x), and no actual rules to stop someone from walking past you.
But yeah, I agree with the rest. I started playing with AD&D, and always found most of 3.x changes a bit too unbalanced.

Thane of Fife
2009-02-20, 11:00 AM
Technically, AD&D doesn't have rules to interrupt spellcasting (other than using your action while the caster is casting something that requires more than one round to cast, as in 3.x)

Actually, a caster who is hit at any time in a round during which he is casting a spell before he actually gets the spell off loses it. I can't give you a page number on that, but I'm absolutely certain it's there (I've quoted it before).

Draz74
2009-02-20, 01:12 PM
Actually, a caster who is hit at any time in a round during which he is casting a spell before he actually gets the spell off loses it. I can't give you a page number on that, but I'm absolutely certain it's there (I've quoted it before).

Yep, this is compatible with my memory. No Concentration checks to avoid fizzling here!


I'll try to make a super-simplified rules set for the suggested combat-system in near future for ease of use.

I look forward to it.

One of my main issues with the 2e Initiative system is that if your stated, planned action was invalidated by the actions that came before yours (e.g. if the target you planned to hit got killed by someone else first), there were no clear guidelines for the DM as to when you could and couldn't change your mind and switch to a similar but separate action (attack the monster next to the dead one). It became good strategy to be as vague as you could get away with in stating your planned actions. I like to reward clarity and lucidity, personally. :smallwink:

Eldariel
2009-02-20, 01:51 PM
I like to reward clarity and lucidity, personally. :smallwink:

Well, make it work like this then: If action cannot be completed, DM wings it, having the character try to complete the given intent to the greatest degree.

I'm fairly sure few smacks and characters dancing trapek would quickly teach your players to be clear though. I mean, you can tell if they're being purposedly vague so just punish 'em for it (after you've made it clear that rules aren't for abusing).:smallcool:

PinkysBrain
2009-02-20, 02:09 PM
I think the "everyone declare intent + DM resolution" approach works better with phases than with rounds. When movement is split off into a separate phase there is a lot less room for changes in the battlefield during resolution completely messing up your action choices.

Neithan
2009-02-21, 05:41 AM
I'm actually not too thrilled about most of, but I'm intrigued by the movement rules. What do you think about introducing just these changes to a "regular" 3.5e game?


- Everyone can attack before and after a standard action, as if they had Spring attack.
- The feats Spring attack, Shot on the run and Ride-by attack allow a character to move at his full movement rate and make a full attack at the same time.
- You have to move at least 5 ft. between attacks.
- You can not make more than a single attack per round when you make a charge.

Would it greatly imbalance the game or would it at all?
I think the most gain is for lightly armored and fast warriors, but more heavily armed characters would also benefit from it.

UserClone
2009-02-21, 08:33 AM
In RE: advancement, I refer you to the (redundant) XP tables in Pathfinder RPG, go ahead and DL the free beta, because I don't know if I am allowed to post the table. Anyway, it has three speeds, fast medium and slow. Decide on which tiers your classes lie (since this is entirely subjective after a few key classes are put in their places, I won't bother posting what I think it "should" look like), and go ahead and plop your tier ones on the slow progression, tier twos on the medium, and tier threes on the fast progression.

As a sidebar, a while back I also had the idea of using those tables for multiclassing, AD&D-style. You can play a single class at fast progression, a 2-class gestalt at Medium, or a 3-class Gestalt at Slow. For perspective, I think the level 2 entry for slow was 3000xp, where for fast it was 1300.

[/2cp]

lesser_minion
2009-02-21, 08:54 AM
If you don't like real-time combat, you could always try something like this:

Each round lasts 12 seconds (five rounds per minute) Start phase: declare spellcasting Second phase: declare movement Third phase: attacks Fourth phase: repeat stages 2 and 3 until everyone's non-magical activities are resolved Phase 5: if anyone declared a spell and was not damaged this round, resolve the effects of that spell


I think you would have to name a principal target for AoEs and then have the option to abort the casting if the target moved. Possibly allow you to remember the spell if it is cancelled.

KevLar
2009-02-26, 09:17 PM
Sorry for coming a bit late to the party, but I have a big question about real time combat. I'll use a very very simple, low level example, but feel free to imagine more complicated situations.

Jack the Fighter and Bob the Cleric are toe to toe, fighting each other.
Jack declares that he attacks Bob with his sword, and his attack roll is just high enough to beat Bob's AC. No more, no less.
Bob declares that he casts Bane on Jack, imposing a -1 penalty on his attack rolls.

What happens? With initiative, things are simple. Either Jack acts first, in which case he hits Bob and forces a Concentration check for keeping the spell (which will be effective only later)... Or Bob acts first, in which case Jack makes a Will save and (if he fails) his attack roll isn't high enough to beat Bob's AC any more. But without initiative, how do we sort this out?

Eldariel
2009-02-27, 07:08 AM
Initiative is still rolled; the only thing it does is determine the order of conflicting actions such as here. So both characters have an initiative rolled, it just doesn't normally affect things. But when the two actions "clash" (that is, both characters try to do something and which happens first matters), the character with higher initiative resolves his action first.

Do note that earlier in this thread, we also discussed AD&D style "initiative lowering by actions". So depending on how fast the action is (AD&D had Weapon Speed included in weapon stats, which basically told how much making an attack with that weapon lowers your Initiative; spells are easy to adjudicate as they're all standard actions or full-round - just make both equal to some specific number, like standard action lower initiative by 10 and full-round by 20), the order may be changed. I didn't write this into the "official" section of the rules as it requires either equalizing all weapons to e.g. -5 (only standard thing should be that an attack is faster than casting a spell making disrupting spellcasters easier) or writing up a chart for the weapons.


But by the rules as written in the OP, both Jack and Bob would have initiative as per normal. Both go about their business, but their actions clash. Bob starts casting Bane while Jack starts attacking Bob. Now, if Jack beats Bob in Initiative, Jack's attack happens first, Bob's spell requires Concentration-roll and if he succeeds, goes off afterwards. On the other hand, if Bob has a higher Initiative, his spell resolves first and Jack rolls his save and if he fails, he attacks on the penalty.

Now, implementing the suggested AD&D initiative lowering rules, say Jack is using a Scimitar (weapon speed factor 5) and Bob is still casting a standard action Bane (speed factor 10). When doing the comparison, Jack's effective initiative is 5 lower than the result of the roll, while Bob's is 10 lower than the result of the roll. If Bob still beats Jack, Bob's spell resolves first. Otherwise Jack's hit resolves first. This gives you an additional tool to balance weapons and such (but it's all unnecessary; you could just standardize all weapons to Weapon Speed 5, for example), and allows you to "price" any action in Initiative; like, taking a Swift Action could lower Initiative by 1 and taking a Move Action could lower it by 5 and so on.

Sticking to simple numbers would make keeping a track of things easy and allow for a rational resolution of the different abilities in time order: the Wizard 30' away from the Fighter casts Sleep, a full-round spell or Initiative -20, while the Fighter moves to attack him with Spiked Chain. The Fighter's Initiative result is 17, Wizard's 20. Spiked Chain is a Speed Factor 9 weapon and Fighter moves so the Fighter's total Initiative Reduction is 14. This means that Wizard's Initiative (for the spell resolving) is 0, while Fighter's initiative for the attack is 7. This means that the Fighter completes his move action and attack before the Wizard completes his Sleep again necessitying a Concentration-check.


The adjustments are really quite easy to do on the fly as long as they're round numbers and every player does the appropriate adjustments for their actions. That said, again, the initiative altering actions-part was only discussed later in the thread; in the OP, the suggested method is simple Initiative comparison when two actions "collide".

rampaging-poet
2009-02-27, 11:26 AM
How about having speed factor 1 for all light weapons, speed factor 3 for all one-handed weapons, and speed factor 5 for all two-handed weapons? IIRC the point of weapon speeds was to make it so that there was a mechanical benefit to using a smaller, easier to swing weapon.
Also, we could give Monk special weapons a speed factor one or two lower, just so that there's a reason for non-monks to use them.