View Full Version : ITT: i try to rework D&D 3.5 and E6 into a working whole

2011-08-23, 03:25 PM
Basic Concepts: i like D&Desque dungeon delving and high fantasy crazyness as much as anyone here, but i feel D&D in its many iterations it's actually a bad mechanical fit for the kind of settings it tries to recreate, for various reasons. Basically this thread is born from the differences in feeling and setting between your typical fantasy novel and how d&d is actually played. From the Fluff and the Cruch if you will.

*magic in the fluff is universally show as a dangerous if powerfull force, rare and extraordinary in it's own right no matter of high magic the setting is.
In game in all previous editions of D&D, the power curve is so it's often necessary to actually explain why middle to high level casters don't rule the world and foster a magical industrial revolution. Some setting embraced just this, and it's fine,but not my cup of tea. Other settings try to play dumb to the problem and it's sad. So i want a magic that is powerfull yet misteryous and born out continous sacrifice and neverending struggle of the human mind against the very forces of nature to make even the humblest result possible. Just like in most novels.

*Non-Casters are outmatched by raw magic power but can offsett caster's advantage in a fight using wits and pragmatic, concrete solutions.
In D&D utility magic is so ready to use you don't stand a chance anyway if the caster is ready for you. If he isn't for one reason or the other you curbstomp him. Anticlimatic.

*The kind of thing i imagine when thinking "powerfull adventurer" (and for what matters, what most fluff suggests) is a weary veteran, a travelled man of the world with many experiences and skills he picked up one way or another in his travels. The kind of man that has seen it all and punched evil in the face so hard he barelly changes facial expression when faced by insurmontable odds. He then proceeds to surmount the hell out of them by wits, experience, instinct, skills and eventually magic. What do i get from an high level character in d&d?
either a minmaxed one trick pony that never learned anything outside it's field of specialization despite having traveled the saved the world on multiple occasions, or a lonely (as in, the only one in his group) skill monkey-balanced character that made a point for similar reasons to learn ALL the kind of things his travelling companions didn't bother to, aiming to patch the group together into a working whole.
Also, what i've got is basically a quasi-exalted: it surpasses the tipical soldier-expert-court counselor magician by orders of magnitude in raw power and can take on his own on the kind of things that ravage countries and leave strong men babbling on the ground, all out of sanity points.
Now, an experienced adventurer should indeed try to take on things like this, the point is it's not climathic if he does so with raw power and direct actions: he should be doing so with skills and wits.

You go dragon hunting? cool and fine. D&D goes dragon hunting like any other encounter: characters get on position and engage a direct fight. May the side with more HPs triumph! IMHO it's way funnier if people go dragon hunting in a situation in wich direct phisical confrontation with an healthy and ready dragon is a death sentence, no matter who the hell you are. You might have to lure it out of it's cave and then softem him up with a couple ballista shots while it's on the open, try to block it on the ground with webs and chains, immobilize it so that the fatal blow can be delivered. The way you would level the odds if you were a lower level character into a fight intended for an high livel character.

So basically: i want to keep the character's power level down to encourage an higher creativity level.
E6 (that is basically a variant of D&D 3.5 with only 6 levels, you know it well here i suppose) is a step on the right direction but then characters suffers for lack of personalization.
D&D4 flattens many options (magic is a power source like any other etc) and while i like it, it's decidedly not what i want even when limiting characters to the Heroic levels.

So i started working on this homebrew. It's just a variant on d&d 3.5, but it's a very heavy variant designed to encourage another style of play.

THE BASICS of what changes.

Character Progression: There are 6 FULL LEVELS and 16 half and semi levels on the character progression table, as follows.

LEVEL 0: Apprentice, Half Level: if you start like this you get half your maximum starting HD+ con bonus for HP for starters and half Skill Points with a max rank of 2. (example: mickey mouse as a sorcerer apprentice, young arthur in the sword in the stone from disney)
LEVEL 1: Journeyman, Full Level: you get your firts HD at max, full Skill Points etc. You're pretty much a normal person except for your probably above averange stats. You also get your starting feat. (example: mr anyone)
LV2: Semi-Level
LV3: Semi-Level
LV4: Semi-Level
LEVEL 5: Experienced,Full Level. you get an HD and new skill points and max rank increases (a soldier who has seen action, a wise professor, a good professionist)
LV6: Semi-Level
LV7: Semi-Level
LV8: Semi-Level
LEVEL 9: Veteran, Full Level. (an army officer)
LV10: Semi-Level
LV11: Semi-Level
LV12: Semi-Level
LEVEL 13: Hero, Full Level (conan)
LV14: Semi-Level
LV15: Semi-Level
LV16: Semi-Level
LEVEL 17: Legend, Full Level (Napoleon)
LV18: Semi-Level
LV19: Semi-Level
LV20: Semi-Level
LEVEL 21: Superhuman, Full Level (Gilgamesh)

and so on if you're into epic progressions. XPs thresolds to rise level are the same as standard D&D 3.5.

Basically, only in Full levels you get a new HD, new skill points, higher max ranks etc.
In semi levels you still get class abilityes, but you get none of this. What you also get for free irregardless of your class are Personalization Points
You get 5 of them per semi-level, you can spend them as your level grows or hoard them for later. With them you may buy many things.
3PP: 3 skill points (max skill rank is still determined by the FULL levels as standard procedure, so at level 21 total you can have a maximum of 9 ranks per skill)
3PP: 3 bonus HP (only buyable in groups of three)
6PP: a Feat
Other things can also be bought, like the possibility to find an awesome magical weapon and so on, but you get the idea.

ON CLASSES AND CHARACTERS AND MAGIC. Here i'll show just the basic outlines, more datails later.

This homebrew uses the variant that comprises only 3 basic classes: Warrior, Expert and Initiate.
Warriors get 1 good save, all three are eligible. 4+int skill points for full level and choose up to 10 class skills at character creation that don't comprise magic skills (see later). They also get full BAB for full level. they get class abilityes based on their fighting style, not unlike rangers but better. They can freely learn more than one fighting style (full details with the class outiline).

The Expert gets either 1 good save (all three eligible) and 10+int skill points per level or 2 good saves and 6+int (chosen class skills are still 16 at character creation, again no magic skill can be chosen as a class skill). They get 3/4 BAB and d6 HD. They can decide to choose less class skills at character creation: if they do so for each class skill sacrificed one class skill can be raised up to one rank above normal full-level maximum
(ie: i want to play an weaponsmith, i suppose i don't need 16 class skills, i decide for 10 and for each class skill sacrificed Craft can get 1 rank above normal level maximum, so at level 21 i could have 15 ranks on it instead of 9! if i so choose i could divide said bonus among
as many skills as i feel i need among my class skills). The expert gets class abilityes based on doing his work, whatever it may be, quickly and efficiently.

The Initiate gets Will as a good save, D4 HD and 2+int skill points per full level. It gets 8 class skills to choose at character creations and is the only class that can choose magic skills as class skills. It gets 1/2 bab for full level and class abilityes based on casting and on the magic school it came from/his casting style.

Multiclass among these classes is impossible: you can freely multiclass into prestige classes but i feel they're a little obsolete now.

Magic Skills: Basically Alchemy (int), Conjuration (int), Divination (wis), Invocation (wis), Glamour (cha) and Manipulation (cha).
Spells are uses for these skills, they must be learned with a learning roll on the skill (higher dcs for more powerfull spells) and used rolling on the skills (so there's also an activation dc: this subsides the concentration skill: being menaced while casting just rises said dc).
Experts and Warriors CAN learn these skills but only as cross class: this allows for versatility while keeping class niches true and thus classes still usable. There are also advanced lores of magic you need certain ranks in these basic magic skills and a feat to learn, like necromancy, blood magic, elemental mastery and so on.

Every encounter a caster, regardless of class can cast N spells freely: N= Full Levels+ Mental ability score bonus chosen by the player at character creation.
Casting more spells per encounter than that is to "Surpass the Thresold" and requires a Fortitude saving throw for each additional spell
with DC= 5+3 per additional spell. Failing the saving throw the first time fatigues the caster, making it act as if he had 0 hp left (only single standard action etc) Failing it twice makes it faint (but he can be woken by his companions) failing it thrice or more times inflict 1 permanent point of constitution damage for each time. Such is the price of magic, and it's danger.

Next: the Warrior, and then the other classes in detail.

2011-08-23, 03:27 PM
Warriors are fighting men, defined by their skills at fighting and on the way they display it.
They often are trained by other more experienced warriors, either in group or on a master-apprentice relationship. Some are honourable knights, others ethicless scoundrels. More than anything they're defined and differentiated from the fighting style they were taught.

D10 HD, Full BAB, 4+int skill points (four times at level 1, two times at level 0 if so chosen)
a Warrior is competent in all armors and shields and all simple and war weapons. Certain fighting styles can impose limitations on the kind of equipment the Warrior can use and/or outright change its competences.
A warrior can chose one save (fortitude, reflexes or will) to be its main save that follows the good progression (so lv0:+1 lv1:+2 level 5:+3 level 9:+3
level 13:+4 level 17:+4 and level 21:+5) while the other two will follow the usual "bad save" progression (of +0 +0 +0 +1 +1 +1 +2)
There are of course great differences between a Warrior that chooses a save and his rival that chooses another. Some fighting styles require a particular save to be chosen to learn it.

Progression by level (or:class abilyties)

LV0: Apprentice Fighter
Lv1: Journeyman fighter, First Fighting style
Lv2: Additional Training
Lv3: Brave/Pragmatic, Men at Arms
Lv4: Additional Training
Lv5: Experienced Fighter, Second fighting style
Lv6: Additional Training
Lv7: Danger Awareness
Lv8: Additional Training
Lv9: Veteran Fighter, Third fighting style
Lv10: Additional Training
Lv11: I shall have no Fear/I shall have no Remorse
Lv12: Additional Training
Lv13: Heroic Fighter, Fourth Fighting style
Lv14: Additional Training
Lv15: Formal Perfection
Lv16: Additional Training
Lv17: Legendary Fighter, Fifth Fighting style
Lv18: Additional Training
Lv19: Master of Fighting
Lv20: Additional Training
Lv21: God of War, Ultimate fighting style.

Apprentice Fighter: You lack experience and Bravery but your destiny is yet to be written and a world of possibilityes are ready for your taking.
Once per day you can reroll a die rolled in the context of fighting, indipendently from the weapons used, the context and the kind of dice.
Journeyman, Experienced, Veteran, Heroic, Legendary fighter all grant you an additional use of this ability per day. God of war follows other rules.
Note that a singular roll can be rerolled only once in this fashion, and that the new result replaces the old even if it's lower.
Brave/Pragmatic: You can choose one at lv2. Brave gives you a unnamed bonus to your saving throws equal to half your Full Levels (for a maximum of 3) against all effects of fear, minimum +1. Pragmatic gives a bonus of 3 fts to your speed when tactically retiring from danger.
Men at Arms: you can choose one of the following groups of two skills to give a +2 synergy bonus to.
Survival and Move Silently; Hide and Move Silently, Balance and Tumble, Knowledge (Nobility) and Diplomacy, Hide and Bluff, Survival and Knowledge (dungeoneering). This reflects your familiar habitat and generally the kind of things you learned by byproduct of your fighting experience. This is obviously not a complete list.
Danger Awareness: You gain improved initiative as a bonus feat; if you allready have it you can reroll initiative once per day.
I Shall Have no Fear/I Shall Have no Remorse: Either reroll all saving throws against fear effects or against charm effects.
Formal Perfection: You gain an Insight bonus to your armor class equal to half your Full Levels.
Master of Fighting: You're so attuned to the rithm of the fight by now once per day you can choose one adversary you're to a maximum distance of 9 meters with and force him to reroll initiative: the new roll takes the place of the old and turn structure changes accordingly. If the new initiative score for the adversary is higher that previously as result of the roll, the new roll is kept but this ability isn't expended for the day.
God of War: You gain a tipeless damage reduction equal to your Full Levels (so you've got a DR 6/- ) that stacks with other similar damage reductions from for example adamantine armour or fighting styles or magical objects. You also stop gaining age penalityes but still gain age bonuses. You'll die when your time will come, your body untouched by age and disease. You, sir, are legend.

Fighting Styles.
When you hit level one you can choose a fighting style you fulfill the requirements of. You gain its Ingrained ability and one of its bonus feats.
Each time you gain a "additional training" slot you can learn another bonus feat from your style's list, or gain bonuses to it's linked skills and abilityes.
When you're given the option to learn a second, third and so on fighting style, a new list of feats and abilityes opens to you each time. You can forfeit such opportunity to strenghten your first (or second or whatever) fighting style's Ingrained Ability, thus limiting yourself to a lesser list of possible bonus feats but getting a stronger Ingrained Ability out of it.

Example: i've been a barbarian all my life learning the way of the Berseker Warrior. I'm just going to reach level 5.
When i do i can strenghten my berseker warrior's Ingrained ability OR learn the basics of a new fighting style thus expanding my options of bonus feats.
If i decide for the latter, when i reach Level 9 i'll have the options to: strenghten my Berseker Warrior's ingrained ability, strenghten my new style's or learn another new style.

Also when i get an additional training slot i'll be able to learn fighting feats from all the styles i've got.Or get other class abilityes from all my styles lists.

Example Fighting Style
Berseker Warrior.
Men of the north learn a staggering fighting style linked to the natural forces of magic of their lands and to their natural totems: initiates drink a potion under the direction of the acients of the tribe and gain the ability to shape change into a bear... It's considered a great honor to learn such secrets and bersekers get to wear beautifull ornate bear pelts wherever they go as a symbol of status that rarelly goes unnoticed by the northmen. Requirements: lose competence in heavy armours and great and tower shields. Survival 4 ranks, Knowledge Nature 2 Ranks, Alchemy 2 Ranks, COS at least 14.

Ingrained Ability 1: Speed +3m
Ingrained Ability 2: Wild shape, Brown bear 1/day
Ingrained Ability 3: Wild shape, Brown bear 2/day
Ingrained Ability 4: Wild Shape, Brown or Black Bear 2/day
Ingrained Ability 5: Wild Shape, Brown or Black Bear 3/day
Ingrained Ability 6: Wild Shape: Brown, Black, Polar Bear 3/day, Dire Bear 1/day

Bonus Feats: Power Attack, Cleave, Great Cleave, Improved Initiative, Improved Natural Weapon, Multiattack, Natural Spells*, Natural Equipment*, Dodge, Improved Run, Iron Will, lighting reflexes. (*= i don't remember the name in english, they're the feats that lets you cast in wild shaped form and mantain your equipment in wild shaped form respectivelly, one is from the player handbook the other from complete adventurer i think)
Style Skills: Survival, Intimidate, Knowledge Nature, Knowledge Local, Swim, Balance, Climb. You can use 1 additional training slot to give a +1 bonus to all of those.
Style Abilityes: Instead of feats or skills you can learn those abilityes with a A.T.Slot:
*Scent: like your ursine form, while in human form you can track with scent.
*natural weapons: you mantain your natural weapons in human form. One slot per natural weapon (so to unlock both claws and bite you would have to take this twice)
*Opponsabe thumbs: while in ursine form you can still use uthensils, with a -4 penality.
*Natural Armour: in human form you have a natural armour equal to your Full Levels (so up to +6)

Weakness: dependency on potions: the two ranks in alchemy are to reflect berseker's knowledge of a particular potion that makes their shape changing possible: they're to swear loyalty to a tribal lord that can grant such potion to them through his shamans or else prepare it on their own, and that might be very difficult to them considering the need to regulary search the ingredients and prepare it, and the fact they can only learn the alchemy skill as cross class. A Berserk that doesn't drink his potion at least once every lunar month lose its capability to change shape until it takes it again.

Ideas for fighting styles? this is the basic concept of how they work.

Fighting Style: Eastern Monk (general)
The eastern people developed various martial arts that make an unarmed man just a deadly as an armed one. Monks from these lands often learn them and use them to protect the weak and helpless from the regular abuse they would hendure from petty warlords and ruthless nobles. They're basically folk heroes and it's considered a great honor to be adopted by one of such monasteries in a young age to be trained, or to be invited in later in life to learn such sofisticated arts of war.
Requirements: Will as a good save, lose proficiency in all non light armors and all shields. Balance 4 ranks, Tumble 4 ranks, Wis at least 14
Ingrained Ability: Unarmed strike 1d6, Wisdom as a Bonus to AC
Ingrained Ability 2: Flurry of blows
Ingrained Ability 3: Unarmed strike 1d8
Ingrained Ability 4: Bonus on all saving throws equal to half your Full Levels (up to +3)
Ingrained Ability 5: Unarmed Strike 1d10
Ingrained Ability 6: You're not limited by your height when calculating your jumping distance, Unarmed Strike 2d6
Style Feats: Dodge, Rapid Strike, improved brawl ... depends also largelly on the monastery and enche the style you learn.
Style Skills: Balance, Tumble, Move Silently, Perceive Intentions, Diplomacy, Jump, Swim, Climb.
Style Abilityes:
*thongue of the soon and the moon
*resistance to poisons
etc etc

Weakness: You get a mentor (in the shape of your monastery's abbott) for free. You've swore loyalty to him, he's more than willing to send you around the world to test your mettle or make you meditate for days in the wilderness and mountains without food or any water that isn't melted snow and send you back there if upon return you can't tell him what's the sound of one hand clapping. Funny thing is: you'll probably thank him in the end. Due to his directions of your activities and the strict mental discipline required to learn martial arts, you have to mantain a non chaotic alignment.

Some other fighting styles before starting to talk about the Expert.

The WeaponMaster
A weaponmaster is a fighter that chooses to focus the whole of his training on mastering one weapon, and that alone... what he loses in polyvalence he gains in specialization.
Requirements: Will as good save, weapon focus on chosen weapon. If chosen weapon is Exotic he must gain competence in it through normal means (buying the relative feat). Balance 4 ranks Tumble 4 ranks.
Ingrained ability 1: +1 to hit rolls and damage rolls with chosen weapon. Stacks with feats that give similar bonuses.
Ingrained ability 2: +2 initiative when fighting while bearing the chosen weapon.
Ingrained ability 3: flurry of blows with chosen weapon.
Ingrained ability 4: another +1 to hit and damage with chosen weapon.
Ingrained ability 5: Once per day per WIS modifier bonus (minimum 1) you can declare maximum damage with your weapon instead of rolling for damage, if you've allready hitten your enemy.
Ingrained Ability 6: you double the critical range of your weapon, this stacks with either improved critical of magical enhachments of any nature, not with both.
Style Feats: improved weapon focus, weapon specialization, improved weapon specialization, improved initiative, improved feint, improved disarm, power attack, improved sunder, dodge, rapid strike.
Style Skills: intimidate, tumble, balance, profession: weaponsmith and craft: weapons (to allways keep your weapon nice and sharp!), jump.
Style Abilityes:
* Demonstrative Strike (min level 10): you can attack someone inflicting him nonlethal damage with your weapon without malus
* Outmatching Display (requires demonstrative strike): after having done so, you get a bonus equal to the damage inflicted to any and all intimidate rolls against the subject and any onlookers for the rest of the day.
* Perfection of the Art: You add the number of ingrained abilityes of this style you've got as a insight bonus to AC when fighting while using your weapon. This substitutes Formal Perfection if higher.
* Complete oneness: another +2 to hit with your blade. Beacose you're allready gaining +4 +6 (to hit/to damage) might as well make it +6 +6.

Weakness: you lose competence with all weapons that aren't your chosen kind. Yeah so you're a god with a bastard sword and suddenly become a spastic mess when trying to fight with an only slightly shorter blade, a longsword. This is exactly what happens. The world is an ugly place, get over it.

Ideas for other fighting styles?

2011-08-23, 03:29 PM
The expert is a man defined by his mundane skills and by the capability to use them when it really counts. This might mean a lot of things: he might be a barber surgeon, a blacksmith, a farmer or other such unlikelly heroes.

Hit Dice: D6, 3/4 BAB on full levels (so +0 +1 +2 +3 +3 +4 ) and can choose in character creation between having two good saves (as defined earlier) and 6+int skill points (multiplied by 4 at first level as usual) OR just one good save and 10+int skill points (again...). Said choice is to be made at character creation and can't be changed afterward (you can't "multiclass" your full levels between the former option and the latter). The choice should reflect the expert's lifestyle and aptitudes. He can also choose 16 class skills from the skill list, or fewer: if he choses to have fewer class skills he gets to raise the maximum ranks in a class skill he does chose by 1 for every other class skill thus sacrificed. Basically the expert class is the "build your own class" kit.
An expert is proficient with all basic weapons, all light and medium armours, all shields except tower shield.

LV0 Half Level, as defined previously, Improvvise.
LV1 Journeyman Expert
LV2 Skill tricks
LV3 Resourcefull / Specialized
LV4 Skill tricks
LV5 Accomplished Expert
LV6 Skill tricks
LV7 Train of Toughts / Professionally Renowned
LV8 Skill tricks
LV9 Veternal Expert
LV10 Skill tricks
LV11 Just picked it up / Critical Eye
LV12 Skill tricks
LV13 Heroic Expert
LV14 Skill tricks
LV15 Non Conventional Mind / Savant
LV16 Skill tricks
LV17 Legendary Expert
LV18 Skill tricks
LV19 One mind, Many toughts / Genius
LV20 Skill tricks
LV21 Paragon of Skill

Journeyman -> Legendary expert: you can reroll a skill roll once per day. They stack with each other.
Improvvise: except for magic skills, there's no difference to you between trained only skills and other skills. You can henche roll train only skills untrained.
Resourcefull / Specialized: If a skill requires a certain equipment to be rolled you can either roll on it even if you lack the equipment adding 10 to the DC (resourcefull) as long as you can improvvise it some way (if you're a blacksmith, regular hammer istead of forge hammer, a rock instead of an anvil and so on might suffice to you), or having equipment count as masterwork even if it isn't (specialized) if your equipment IS masterwork it gives you a bonus of +3 instead of the regular +2.
Train of Toughts / Professionally Renowed: You can either from now on spend only 1 skill point to raise cross class skills by 1 rank instead of 2 (like able learner) or having anyone that knows and respects your buisness react to you "one step better" (if your buisness isn't legal, this is a drawback when talking to law officers, but might be even more helpfull with those that might need your valuable skills...)
Just Picked it Up / Critical Eye: Either chose one cross class skill and elevate it to class skill or get a +3 competence bonus to all rolls to judge an impementation of your class skills (like a roll of appraise to judge a painting, but social skills might also apply)
Non Conventional Mind / Savant: Either retroactivelly edit out of the universe a skill roll you just rolled once per day, as long as you DON'T reroll it (my lockpick attempt miserably failed and activated a trap? IT NEVER HAPPENED, group let's try that other door i've got a bad feeling about this one) Or take 10 to rolls even with unfavourable conditions. If conditions aren't unfavourable it takes you half time to take 10.
One Mind Many Toughts / Genius: Either roll two skill checks at the same time or take 20 at a skill chek once per day, solved as a full round action.
Paragon of Skill: Enjoy not having to suffer penalityes for getting old anymore and still getting the bonuses! also from now on each skill check that takes more than a round has its lenght cut in half and you can try again at least once with all skills, even those that expressly say you that you can't.
Skill Tricks: you chose a skill trick from one skill's list

[complete list later: know that a lot of it is similar to complete scoundrel's take on the same concept, and it also features things like bardic music, sneak attacks and others you tought went lost in translation]

2011-08-23, 03:30 PM
[reserved for initiate]

2011-08-23, 03:34 PM
[reserved for magic, spells and various]
Please don't wait for me to be finished before awarding me precious feedback:smallbiggrin: