View Full Version : Alternate Rules: A treatise on combat and other rules.

T.G. Oskar
2012-05-06, 03:59 AM
Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages! Outsiders and Eldritch Abominations are welcome too!

Well, it's May, and if I may be so bold, it's been 2 months or more without a new thread dedicated to "Alternate Rules". That has to be rectified post-haste.

Some time ago, I dealt with ways on how to deal with spellcasters (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=209408), particularly on a moment where other fellow 'brewers were dealing with their own twist to the magic problem. You may recall that my twist related to altering a few spells, turning others into incantations and altering how metamagic works. That's good and fine for spellcasters, but what about the warriors?

The following "Alternate Rules" deal mostly with the martial characters, and thus it essentially goes into one of the core concepts of D&D: combat. This is essentially the closest thing to altering the core system itself, so this is by definition the closest thing to a new system. You'll notice that combat, at least against humanoids, is meant to be far, far bloodier than before, and that the combat maneuvers are meant to be slightly more powerful. Applied separately and on their own terms, they are meant to push martial characters a bit over the edge; however, they work best with the alternate rules that deal with spellcasters, as a true "fix" to D&D has to tackle every single aspect of the system. Consider this a pitch for a through patch; a "retool", to be exact, of the system. Don't expect, though, to follow this: retooling D&D from its core is just about impossible for one man, even with help, and I simply don't have the time OR the money to go with it. Thus, it's a modular retool: much like the classes and the PrCs and the eventual feats and whatnot, the revision to the combat rules can be applied over the existing ones on their own (without using Project Heretica or the other retools), added alongside the retooled classes and PrCs, or ignored altogether.

By the way, not all of the rules have been throughly revised, but the system has had its share of playtesting. On its own, it doesn't solve the problem of martial characters or makes them extremely powerful, but it makes martial characters arguably better in combat without having Clerics and Druids step on their toes. You'll see why in a moment.

T.G. Oskar
2012-05-06, 04:05 AM
Normally, in a combat, the prime archetypes all have a role. The fighter, the barbarian, and to an extent the paladin (amongst other classes) have the functions of “tanks” or “meat shields”; dealing and receiving physical damage. Amongst those, there are several kinds of smaller versions of the archetype: those who deal more damage than they receive, but that are still capable of receiving a lot of damage (such as barbarians), those who are capable of resisting large amounts of damage but their offensive capabilities are more limited (such as paladins), those who prevent others from being damaged by managing the direction of attacks, movement and overall combat (battlefield-control tanks) and those who focus on ranged combat instead of melee combat. Classes such as the rogue, to an extent the monk and the ranger, as well as other classes have the task of precision damage: they are capable of dealing great amounts of damage upon an enemy, but are usually less capable of receiving hits, and thus rely on evasive tactics instead of resistance tactics. Amongst those, there are the high-damage precision types (such as the rogue), the low-damage, multiple hit precision types (such as the ranger, whose combat styles and favored enemies allow for several points of damage spread between attacks), and the skirmishers (such as the scouts, whom rely on constant movement). Clerics, bards, for the most part druids and to an extent wizards fall under the “healer/buffer” role. This role includes healing (which, under the rules, is a sub-par tactic), “buffing” (the act of enhancing a creature’s abilities or equipment through means of magic), and several protective spells. Wizards and sorcerers, and to an extent druids and even clerics fall under the role of “blaster/controller”, capable of dealing several points of damage upon a wide area, or manipulating the battlefield and the people around it to the benefit of one side. Normally, all classes usually fit for one role and may dabble in the other roles (with the exception of fighters, which usually remain stuck in frontline duty); usually, that is not the case.

In-game, the way the system is developed allows for characters to play very different archetypes than allowed. While this is a very unique aspect of the game, the system starts to show flaws with the lack of role definition. Clerics, with divine power, righteous might and other buffing spells, gains the ability to outclass the fighter in frontline duty; while the cleric was meant originally to be a secondary frontline combatant, these spells allow it to overcome the fighter in any of its challenges. Wizards, on the other hand, cleverly and easily reduce the effects of challenges to almost nothing, which while meant to make fighters more capable in combat, also meant that they wrest control over the party, to the point that an adventuring party delegates far too much power over them. Meanwhile, fighters stick to one role so badly, they are usually incapable of dealing with most things on their own. To state the point: lack of a fighter in an adventuring party is not as important as the lack of a rogue, and the lack of both isn’t as important as the lack of a cleric or wizard in party. Furthermore, the cleric doesn’t need to devote to healing, and the wizard, in time, can solve all predicaments of the party (even healing) without much effort.

The following rules are meant to aid fighters in their tasks. Most of the fixes are best left upon classes, but these are simple fixes to the lack of interest within the special attacks of martial combatants.

Melee Attack: by definition, whenever a creature attacks with a weapon at a very short range, using no projectile weaponry or throwing no weapons, it makes a melee attack. Traditionally, melee attacks depended on Strength for attack rolls (chance to hit) and damage rolls (damage to hit points); this is a reasonable assumption, and there is no need to change it. Of course, some classes (such as rogues and monks) won’t have a reasonable amount of Strength given their focus on other ability scores (such as Dexterity for rogues or Wisdom for monks), and such, there must be ways to replace dependence on Strength. Usually, feats (such as Weapon Finesse) or class features work better to replace these. As a rule of thumb: feats work better to provide alternatives if the class to be chosen normally has no dependence on a singular ability over others (such as the fighter, who doesn’t need much Dexterity or Constitution to work out), or whose usually main ability score is Constitution. If the class relies far too much on one or two scores (such as the monk, who relies on Wisdom and to an extent Dexterity), it is better to make it a class feature of the class itself.

Ranged Attack: by definition, whenever a creature attacks with a weapon at a range using a projectile weapon or a thrown weapon, it makes a ranged attack. Traditionally, ranged attacks depended on Dexterity for attack rolls exclusively. Normally, this presents a problem: usually, Dexterity is used as a surrogate for sight and manual coordination, but the idea for attack doesn’t transmit to damage. Thus, the following suggestions are to be considered: either Strength or Dexterity is added to the damage roll. The first prerogative is reasonable for bows (whose pull determines the general strength of the projectile) and thrown weapons (where the strength of one’s arms works for range and power), but not so much for crossbows or slings, which use different methods of dealing damage (stored power for crossbows, centrifugal force for slings which can be achieved with little effort). Furthermore, the use of thrown weapons is usually ignored since it requires a reasonable amount of Dexterity for smaller amounts of damage.

The suggestion to make ranged attacks unique and flavorful is as follows. Bows of all kinds, as well as crossbows and slings, use Dexterity for their attack rolls, and in the case of bows and slings, to their damage rolls as well. The reason is simple; first, it implies that you’re aiming in a way that deals maximum damage, even without the need of a strong pull. Second, it is more reasonable for the design even if it sounds a bit inconceivable: forcing Strength to damage solves little. Thus, projectile weapons work in the following way:
Bows: bows of all kinds (shortbows and longbows) use Dexterity for attack and damage rolls. Composite bows, add the full Strength modifier to the damage roll along with Dexterity; it is assumed that the bow is capable of resisting the pull of a superhuman creature for purposes of ease in design. Thus, there are no increasing degrees of composite bows: all composite longbows are specially crafted masterwork bows (and thus, cost 300 extra gp over the masterwork cost), no less and no more.

This may seem arbitrary, but the idea of composite longbows having to be attuned to the character is... The best way to explain it is like this: for a simulationist system, it's probably the best, but for a game in which ability scores flow pretty swiftly, this becomes a liability.

For starters, bows need a mechanic similar to melee damage. In fact, all ranged damage needs this: while ranged attacks have the advantage of, well, range, stuff like Power Attack and maneuvers essentially multiply melee damage enough to make ranged damage almost unnecessary, aside from the rare chance in which a character fights a flying opponent (which is one reason why people claim that you need a method of flight, as you need to have a method to deal the right amount of damage without specializing)

Bows, being essentially the default method to deal ranged damage, add Dexterity to attack rolls as that defines hand-eye coordination (even if Wisdom defines perception per se). Thus, why not use the same for damage rolls? Even simulationists may find a way to include Dexterity as a damage modifier: make it equal hand-eye coordination, or simply proper shooting that allows a more efficient distribution of force. In any case, with bows, you have Dex to attack and damage rolls...

...unless you have composite bows, in which case you can add Strength. The difference between regular bows and composite bows is that the latter is better constructed (hence, why always of masterwork quality) and designed to maximize damage. Composite bows are better for warriors that want a long-range weapon with above-average Dexterity and lots of Strength: it's essentially the same as adding 1.5 times your Strength, except you don't and instead you add two stats to your damage (thus making Bull's Strength and Cat's Grace a deadly combination).

Crossbows: crossbows work differently. They already are created with a specific pull in mind, so they don’t allow adding Strength to damage. They still allow full Dexterity modifier to attack rolls, however. Now, people with greater strength can request buying crossbows with improved capability, granting them the ability to add their full Strength modifier to damage. This acts much like the old version of the composite bow, and in fact it works in a way as a composite bow (except the mechanism is also altered). For each 100 gp added to the crossbow, it deals an extra 1 point of damage, but the character must make a Strength check with a DC equal to half the required Strength check while recharging (thus, a crossbow with effective Strength 12 forces a creature to make a Strength check with DC 6) in order to add the extra damage; otherwise, the crossbow deals normal damage.

On the other hand, crossbows have a different mechanic. You don't make the pull; the crossbow makes the pull for you. As they are designed to essentially "point and shoot", crossbows don't add Dex to damage (in this case, Crossbow Sniper does that). However, crossbows can be designed to maximize a better pull (think...I'd say Gastraphetes but that's basically a large bow; maybe the Arbalest?), so they have the old "fixed damage based on Strength" mechanic of composite longbows.

Slings: slings add their full Dexterity modifier to damage, but no Strength. After all, the utility of the sling is its simplicity. Bolas work in a way similar to slings, so the same idea applies (although bolas deal non-lethal damage instead of lethal damage).

Thrown weapons should behave on a different way. Certainly, Dexterity works well, but it makes thrown weapons a bad choice for melee warriors. Thus, all thrown weapons (except for a few) use Strength for attack and damage rolls, as if they were melee weapons. Others keep their Dexterity to attack and damage, using Strength much as bows do. To clarify:
Darts, Shuriken and similar: being small weapons, all of them use the Dexterity modifier to attack rolls and damage rolls, and add half the Strength modifier to damage rolls.

Why Dexterity + 1/2 Strength? Easy: ever thrown a baseball? Baseballs best define this: you need to aim and shoot in the correct way (Dexterity), but speed is defined by your arm, not your hand-eye coordination (thus, Strength).

On the other hand, this is the best thrown weapon for nimble characters, so forcing Strength on them seems just mean. If they have above-average Strength, better, but the bulk of their damage is on Dexterity.

Daggers: daggers are unique in that they work as utility tools aside from weapons. They use either the Strength or the Dexterity modifier for attack rolls and damage rolls, whichever is higher. Stones fall on the same category.

Yes, daggers are quite versatile. Think how you throw it: a straight throw would be your Dexterity shot (as you're aiming for the correct spot), whereas the spinning throw would be your Strength shot (stores circular momentum). This is probably the least simulationist explanation, as the idea is that daggers are a true, deadly multipurpose weapon: small, light, easy to conceal, throwable, good for self-defense, a great off-hand weapon, and when battle's over, you can use it to cut a piece of meat and then use it as a fork, or to spread butter on the bread roll you just sliced.

Throwing axes, Sledgehammers, Throwing spears and similar: being large and/or heavy, they require a good throwing hand. Thus, they require the use of the Strength modifier instead of the Dexterity modifier for attack rolls and damage rolls. Characters with above-average Dexterity may add half of their modifier to attack rolls.

I'd love for throwing weapons to be used a bit more, and of course, this isn't enough. Ideally, throwing weapons require a direct fix through a revision of weaponry, but at least you can consider that the heavier thrown weapons are ideal for warriors. Thus, they use Strength, only adding Dex to attack rolls if above-average. Note it says "attack rolls" instead of "damage rolls"; this is intentional.

Iterative Attacks: In the original rules, a creature with a base attack bonus (determined by its class) of 6 or higher was entitled to an extra attack, but only as part of a full action (called, fittingly, a “full attack” action). The problem with this is that it binds characters into standing still, unable to move at all. At BAB 11 and BAB 16, characters gained extra attacks (making BAB 16 the realm of pure martial characters) but no noticeable benefit from it.

The recommendation would be to make iterative attacks more attractive to use, and allowing fighters to have a reasonable amount of action economy. Thus, using what most console RPGs of the ages have done (such as Final Fantasy, Wizardry and most recently The Dark Spire), iterative attacks are accessible to characters through a standard action. However, not all characters will have this benefit. Now, how to adjudicate this benefit so that it can benefit martial characters but not spellcasters?

One of the options considered was using Initiator Level, as it counts as a sort of caster level for martial characters, but unfortunately there is a problem because Initiator Level is treated as a separate concept, even though it has a reasonable progression. Base attack bonus by itself is also a bad idea, because while it wouldn’t cause any trouble with casters because they would only get two attacks, it would seriously cripple getting full BAB and it would still allow certain classes (such as Clerics with Divine Power) gain the full benefit. Thus, an unorthodox method that should provide greater benefit to a mostly forsaken class is “effective Fighter levels”. In essence, Fighters are meant to be the best type of warrior ever, able to mix and match feats in order to develop their own warrior style; of course, base attack bonus was clearly overrated, where four attacks don’t compare to save or die effects. However, they could work for purposes of applying iterative attacks as standard actions, and even promote multiclassing into Fighter.

The first thing to consider is how to work with this. If we’re going to apply iteratives as a standard action but limit their application through the use of effective fighter levels, the first thing to do is state the following:
Attack: a character may make an attack as a standard action. A character is entitled to a single melee attack while using this action at first, but as it progresses in levels, it may apply further attacks. When making an attack as a standard action, a character uses his highest base attack bonus to determine success. If the character has levels in the Fighter class or effective Fighter levels, it may make more attacks during this action, as if its base attack bonus was equal to its effective Fighter levels but using its own base attack bonus to determine the total attack bonus. For example: a character with a Base Attack bonus of +8 and an effective Fighter level of 6th may make two attacks, one at a +8 bonus and another at a +3 bonus. A character with a Base Attack bonus of +11 and an effective Fighter level of 9th is only entitled to two attacks per attack action, one at a +11 bonus and another at a +6 bonus.

Full Attack: as a full-round action, a character may make more than one attack. The number of attacks a character may do is based on its base attack bonus. When using this action, a character makes all attacks at its highest attack bonus. For example, a character with a base attack bonus of +6 makes two attacks at +6 when making a full attack action. Furthermore, some sources of extra attacks (such as from the Two-Weapon Fighting feat, the speed weapon enhancement or the haste spell) require the use of a full attack action to activate.

Attack of Opportunity: if an enemy is caught in a position where it may not defend (such as moving on an area threatened by a character or trying to escape from your character), the character is entitled to a single melee attack at its highest attack bonus. This attack is not treated as an attack action, but the character may use certain maneuvers (such as disarm, grapple, sunder or trip) with this action.

Out of action Attacks: if a class ability or spell grants the ability to make an immediate melee attack, the character is entitled only to a single melee attack and not an attack action. If a class ability or spell grants the ability to make an extra standard action, a character may use it to execute an attack action and gain the benefits of all iterative attacks.

Alright, breathe deeply and meditate on this.


...or something along these lines.

So, why go so bold and essentially give martial characters all of their attacks once they reach the "right" level? Simple: notice how most of the threads regarding how to make successful martial characters seek to add Pounce to them? The reason why the Barbarian is just so darned good even if, by itself, it's no more powerful than a Fighter with the right choice of skills is because of Spirit Lion Totem added to the Rage. Psychic Warrior and Totemist are also considered awesome because they have ways to let you pounce; Rangers, as well, let you do so but at a lesser degree (sacrificing their spell slots, which are pretty scarce). Now, EVERY SINGLE MARTIAL CHARACTER can use their iterative attacks after moving, so you don't have to choose whether to stand still and attack or move and make a single hit.

Look at it in this way:
With this change, Monks will always have their iterative attacks, since more often than not fixes to Flurry of Blows make it as part of their attack action. Thus, they ALWAYS have all their attacks.
Barbarians no longer need Spirit Lion Totem to be useful, and they can use their Fast Movement to move an extra 10 ft., meaning they cover more terrain.
Classes such as Paladins and Soulborne, who essentially have only "attack", "Full attack" and "special attack" (usually smite) gain some needed mobility.

Now, I only want Martial Characters to get this, and not spellcasters of any sort (except gishes). So, how do I work this?

As I mentioned above, I thought of BAB. However, this has three big problems: caster classes have iterative attacks as well, so they'd also partake of this fix (hence ignoring the whole point of keeping iteratives-as-standard-actions firmly on the side of martial characters), and with temporary boosts to BAB (aka, Divine Power and Tenser's Transformation), spellcasters got exactly the same thing. What's worse: monsters also get this, so a monster wielding a weapon could move and attack, dealing just as many points of damage as they'd do on a full attack, without the need for levels. This was bad on so many ways, I simply had to scrap it. So much for Base Attack Bonus, guys...

So, I thought: Tome of Battle to the rescue! With Initiator Levels, you could give martial characters all the love they...oh, the rules of Initiator Levels are pretty clear. Only Martial Adepts would kick buttocks (thus furthering the divide between one class and the other), and if you multiclassed, you lost. Big time. So, IL goes out (but it's nice enough for maneuvers, nonetheless).

Thus, I thought: if I want to make the Fighter the best warrior around, how do I do it? Then it struck me: the Weapon Focus line requires effective Fighter levels. Warblade grants effective Fighter levels, but only for the Weapon Focus line. Since the concept of "effective Fighter levels" exist, why not expand it for something else? Thus, effective Fighter levels become the martial characters' equivalent to caster levels; it adds a degree of non-linear advancement to their class, but keeps it firmly in the grasp of martial characters.

Of course, no class other than Fighter and Warblade has effective Fighter levels, so it's perhaps the worst way to handle improvement. However, since it technically exists as an idea, and it was less explored than BAB or IL, it could be altered.

Notice that, in all of my retooled classes and PrCs, when I work with bonus feats, I always mention "this class counts as a Fighter of its level -X for purposes of effective Fighter levels"? This is the reason. If you don't work with my retools, however, there's another way to handle that fix: an appendix that determines which classes get effective Fighter levels and which don't.

Now, with the standard attack action (and only the standard attack action) netting you all iteratives as if they were a full attack action, what happens with the full attack action? Here's the sweet, sweet deal: let's get rid of diminishing returns. If you stand still and make all of your attacks, you get your FULL attack bonus on all of them, so that means you get a net increase in damage (as all of your attacks have the same base chance of success) if you stand still. It's a minor change, but a significant one nonetheless.

With the change in attack rules, that also means a change in attack maneuvers:
Bull Rush: the bull rush maneuver has no differences from the original version. Bull rush is more often than not a maneuver with little to no trouble. Any improvement to bull-rushing should be done as part of the Improved Bull Rush feat.

Charge: a favorite tactic of melee combatants, charging is usually favored for two reasons. One is “pounce-charging”, in which a character moves and strikes with all of its iterative attacks. Another is the damage-multiplying charge, in which a character intends to do a single attack but multiplies the amount of damage from the charge. Being that charge is so favored, it must be doing its job right. Thus, charge shouldn’t be changed.
What this means is that making a charge allows a single melee attack as a full-round action while making a double movement. This would make it less effective than other tactics, such as simply moving and attacking, and the only benefit is increased movement. Thus, charge may receive a further benefit.

When charging, the character gains a +2 bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls, plus 1 point per every four effective Fighter levels. Thus, a character with an effective Fighter level of 6th makes only a single attack with its charge, but at a +3 to attack and damage. A character must have a single effective level of Fighter to gain the bonus to damage rolls, however.

Of course, a character with the pounce ability may use all of its iterative attacks, as usual, but the bonus on attack and damage rolls applies only to the first attack (successful or not). Using the pounce ability while charging would be the equivalent of making an attack action, thus the attack bonus of each attack is reduced accordingly.

Charge only gets a minor change, but you don't get pounce automatically with a charge. Note I was pretty clear on that. Pounce, in fact, got slightly nerfed as you only get the bonuses on the first attack and you don't get your full base attack bonus on each attack as with the full attack action. In fact, even though pounce essentially allows you to make a full attack action on a charge, I decided to make a specific exception against the newly-generalized rule.

Disarm: disarming a character is a staple of many swashbuckler characters and expert fighters. The act of disarming a character, pointing a sword at the enemy’s neck and forcing them to surrender is a scene oft-repeated in fantastical settings. However, as-is, disarming a character is abysmally terrible, and in most times a sub-par choice. Disarm, thus, behaves as usual but with a very specific change; the disarm check now becomes an opposed attack roll. Disarming still provokes an attack of opportunity (and Improved Disarm still removes the chance to provoke an attack of opportunity), but instead of an opposed Strength check, it now resolves as follows: both characters must make a roll, and add their BAB and either the Strength or the Dexterity modifier, whichever is higher; other classes may allow other modifiers to apply. If the disarm attempt succeeds, the character disarms the opponent. Only one weapon can be disarmed at a time.

A character may make a disarm as a standard action, or replacing one of the attacks on a full action (usually, the first attack)

Has anyone used Disarm, actually? Disarm is rather lackluster in that the classes that would make best use of them (the ones with Combat Expertise) usually lack the necessary Strength to succeed. Thus, by making it opposed attack rolls, base attack bonus is added to the roll, thus making base attack bonus important again. Disarm can be handled with feats, though (particularly a few techniques that allow you to disarm the character and shoot the weapon to a side).

Feint: feinting in battle is visually appealing, but evidently frustrating. There is not much reason to feint in battle, since it requires a standard action and it only allows the character to ignore the opponent’s Dexterity modifier to Armor Class. Feint, thus, should be made more attractive, while at the same time useful for the common warrior.

First, a feint takes only a move action; it is, after all, a moving gesture to mislead the opponent. Thus, it allows the creature to attack afterwards (and also, it allows martial characters to take advantage of their iterative attacks!). Second, the opposed roll changes: the feinting character must make an attack roll, and the opposing character must succeed on a Sense Motive check; if the feint succeeds, the opponent becomes flat-footed for one round. This effect should make Sense Motive a more important skill to have, and allows the warrior to depend less on Bluff.

Yes, I made a big change to feint. Feint will be much, MUCH more useful now. In fact, I foresee more uses of feint in combat.

For starters, you don't need Bluff anymore (though, a feat works perfectly to use Bluff instead of your attack bonus), but you still require Sense Motive to defend from it; it's basically making an attack that you intentionally fail but mean to mislead the opponent into thinking it's an actual attack. However, it's the actual benefit what matters; you treat the enemy as flat-footed for 1 round. For a character that depends on precision damage this is glorious, as it means you don't necessarily need to flank in order to enable sneak attack damage.

Fighting Defensively: another staple of combat is to fight defensively; that is, to reduce the combat capability of a warrior in exchange for a superior defense. Instead of a fixed bonus, the character instead may sacrifice up to five points of its base attack bonus and acquire a bonus of equal proportion as a dodge bonus to Armor Class. The improved version of fighting defensively is, naturally, Combat Expertise. Fighting defensively is a free action as part of an attack action.

So yeah: everyone gets Combat Expertise for free. Fighting defensively is pretty silly anyways, as few if anyone actually uses it (the return is just abysmal). Now, should I consider adding a washed-down Power Attack ability that essentially allows you to sacrifice up to 5 points of your attack bonus to add them to damage? I'm seriously thinking about that as a new maneuver...

Grapple: a maneuver that most characters would love to use but usually cannot because of several troubles. The bonuses are usually reasonable (larger characters are harder to grapple than smaller characters, stability by higher amount of legs, and so forth), but the end result is that most characters give up and refuse to grapple because of its complexity.

First and foremost, the tactic is usually the same: make a touch attack (and receive an attack of opportunity, unless the character has the Improved Grapple feat), then make an opposed grapple check. The grapple, however, works as follows: the grappler makes a touch attack (BAB + Strength modifier, as usual), and the creature to be grappled gains a bonus on the AC: -4 for each size category larger than the grappler, +4 for each size category smaller than the grappler. If the touch attack succeeds, the character is grappled, no questions asked. Any other action, however, requires a grapple check, and the situation inverts: a grappled creature gains a +4 bonus for each size category larger than the grappler, and a -4 penalty for each size category smaller than the grappler. Escaping from a grapple or pin requires either an opposed grapple check or an Escape Artist skill check, as usual.
While it may seem complex at first, the idea is that it is easier to grapple a person by surprise (which is what you technically do on the first grapple attempt), but harder to keep the hold. A grapple is always either a standard action or part of a full attack action, as usual.

Yes, I suck at redaction. Anyone willing to help?

In any case, it should be like this:
Make a touch attack

...and that's it.

To make it clearer: it's touch attack (BAB + Str modifier + other modifiers) vs. touch AC (10 + all modifiers except armor, shield and NA bonuses, plus special size modifier). If you succeed, you're grappled.

Isn't this much, much easier than before? Basically, it's like Improved Grab, but without making the attack; you make the attack roll, but you don't do damage, instead automatically grappling. In this case, Improved Grab is enabling grapples on an attack, but you get an opposed grapple check as usual.

So, why that odd size modifier? Think of a human attempting to grab, not grapple, a creature. The larger it is, the larger the amount you grab. However, you only grab one part of the body, not all: e.g., a human doesn't grab both legs of a giant, but rather one leg. You know, like humpi...erm, that's not the best example at all... However, what else you're going to do afterwards? Giant shakes its leg, human gets thrown away like a football.

The rest, however, remains as usual. Grapple check vs. grapple check, then you succeed. You still enter your opponent's space, you still lose your Dex bonus to AC (but so does your opponent), and you still have your other options.

Mounted Combat: fighting with a horse (or any other kind of mount) is usually impressive, but most often than not, mounted combat is done for one single thing: charging. It’s not that charging is bad, it’s that there are so many opportunities to use while charging, that it gets frustrating.

While being mounted, a mount’s actions are restricted, usually handled by the mounting creature. A mounted character moves at the mount’s speed, not its own. The mount acts whenever the character would make a move action; in essence, the character’s move action becomes the mount’s action, although there are specific exceptions. Thus, a mounted character has the following options:

Make a double move action and no attack action (unless with a ranged weapon, in which it may make a single attack; martial characters may not use their iteratives, but they are allowed to use Manyshot if they have it)
Make a single move action and attack action (with either a melee or ranged weapon; a martial character may use its iteratives as usual)
Order their mount to attack and make an attack action of their own (a martial character may not use its iteratives)
Make a full attack action and force the mount to remain still. A mount may still make a 5-foot step, if the character so desires.
Charge. The mount moves to twice its speed in a straight line, and the character may make a single attack during the mount’s movement, gaining all of the bonuses and penalties of a charge.

Being on a horse produces a much larger amount of inertia, so moves that imply inertia gain a benefit. For example: making a bull-rush attempt with a horse (yes, it can be done: you’re grabbing the opponent as the horse moves; if not possible, assume it can be done in the name of Rule of Cool), you gain a +4 bonus on the opposed roll. Same thing with overrun: +4 bonus on the opposed roll. If you’re making a charge attack while mounted, you double the attack bonus (and damage rolls, if it applies)

Finally, you’re considered as the size of your mount AND multiple-leg based stable while mounted (so that means +4 bonus on resisting bull rush, overrun and trip).

I don't usually do mounted combat, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis, I'd like to have it this way. Stay mounted, my friends.

Because of the changes to the iterative attacks, you have essentially five main options of mounted combat. All of them treat the mount and the rider as one creature, so they share one set of actions. This is what may confuse most people that attempt mounted combat, as the mount and the rider didn't had this clear beforehand. Since the mount and the rider share the same action, the mount and the rider only have ONE move action, ONE standard action, ONE swift action (or immediate action), and as many free actions as needed. Thus, a mount can move and the rider may attack, the mount may make a double movement, the mount may make a full attack (but the rider gets an "attack of opportunity" that doesn't count as an attack of opportunity at all), the rider may make a full attack action but the mount doesn't get the same benefit, or charge using the mount's speed. In essence, it's simplifying the actions by defining how the mount and the rider count in terms of actions.

Overrun: overrunning an opponent is a rarely used tactic. Not only does it causes an attack of opportunity and requires a feat to bypass it, it usually does nothing at all! Overrun is basically a combination of bull rush and trip: you move to the creature’s space, and attempt to tackle the opponent so it falls. Simple and effective, but the rules don’t make it as such. Thus, the fix should combine parts of both bull rush and trip, and be made attractive.

First, overrunning causes no attack of opportunity. You’re looking for the right opening to strike, so it’s difficult that a character is actually ready to strike back; it also makes it more attractive to use. Second, it can be used to replace the effect of a charge; in that case, you gain the bonus to charge on the roll you’re going to make. Third, you make an opposed attack roll (BAB + Strength modifier, as usual): the opponent gains a +4 bonus for each size category bigger than you, a -4 size category for each size category smaller than you, and a +4 bonus for unusual stability (e.g. dwarf) or multiple legs (e.g. a horse), you gain a +4 bonus if you have multiple legs (e.g. overrunning on a horse). If you succeed, you cause the opponent to be prone. If you’re two size categories larger than the opponent, you trample the creature: you deal an amount of damage to the creature equal to your unarmed strike damage. In the case of a charge, you add the bonus to attack rolls from it to the damage as well. You can only do an overrun attempt as a move-equivalent action (yes, a move-equivalent action, which means you can make an overrun AND make an attack while at it) or as part of a charge.

Much like with Disarm: has anyone ever used Overrun?

The main change I made was to make Overrun a move-equivalent action that enables movement. It essentially allows you to break through a wall of enemies and land right at the spot you want. Since it can be done as part of a double move action (as you're sacrificing your standard action to make another move-equivalent action), you essentially can overrun twice, and move a very decent distance. Third, it combines the best of bull rush and trip into a single package. I expect this ability to be used a lot, particularly since you can use it while mounted (mount and rider count as one, so you're a creature as large as your mount, so you may trample a creature if the size is right), and because it's a move action, so you still have your standard actions for everything else.

Sunder: the misunderstood ability, because nobody wants their weaponry broken. It is time-consuming, and it destroys the most valuable asset to an adventurer: their loot. Thus, how can sunder be made more effective? Enter the replacement for actually breaking the weapon: disabling it.

Sunder works a bit different than usual: you make an attack (just as if you were making an attack, hence you don’t provoke attacks of opportunity), but instead of attacking the character, you attack one part of its equipment. The attack is considered a touch attack (you’re not damaging the character but its equipment), and thus only the Dexterity bonus to Armor Class and other non-armor, non-shield, non-natural armor bonuses to AC apply. Then, the character deals damage, which is reduced by the item’s hardness, and the amount of damage not ignored by hardness goes to the hit points of the item. If the item’s hit points reach zero, the item is disabled.

So…disabled? That means the item cannot be used until it is repaired. Technically, it is “broken” but not to the point of “destroyed”. A weapon cannot deal damage, armor cannot protect, a shield is too worn to provide a bonus to AC, and so forth. Unlike the original sunder, this also applies to natural attacks: if the sunder attempt succeeds, the creature may not use the natural weapon for 1d4 rounds. It can also be used to reduce natural armor: the weapon damage (and enhancement bonuses) applies to the creature’s natural armor bonus (as a penalty) and the Strength bonus (or Dexterity bonus, along any other bonuses to damage) apply to the creature, and the natural armor is reduced in potency by 1d4 rounds. Once a sunder attempt succeeds against a natural weapon or natural armor bonus, it may not be attempted again until the penalty wears off (any attempts to sunder the creature result in normal damage in that case). For natural weapons and natural armor, the sunder attempt is a normal attack roll, not a touch attack roll. Sunder can be done as a replacement for a melee attack (either as part of an iterative attack or as part of a full attack action). Creatures cannot make sunder attempts with natural weapons (except for monks, who may sunder with their unarmed strikes).

Aaaaand we reach Sunder.

Yes, I don't want anyone losing their hard-earned loot. Thus, a "disabled" weapon is as good as destroyed, but since it can be repaired (using a Craft check, the Repair X Damage or Make Whole spell), and the loot doesn't lose its magical properties. Since you have ways to repair those magic items, you can sunder to your leisure, and still get your loot at the end. Because sunder is essentially an attack, you can do it as part of a full attack action (not a standard attack action using all your iteratives, though you can use it as a standard action on its own), thus you can break items in one round and still have the possibility of doing damage. Since it works with any magic item, that means Sunder just grows in potency: use it on a Headband of Intellect and debuff the enemy spellcaster, use it on a Cloak of Resistance and provide a "debuff" to saves, do it to a Necklace of Natural Armor and reduce natural armor bonuses to AC for the remainder of the battle, and since most of those are weak enough to be disabled in one blow, that means you can alternate your sunders with other attacks, or sunder and then later make your attack.

It still depends on hit points and hardness, so it's still an annoying thing to use. On the other hand, since it can be used on natural weapons and natural armor, you can reliably disable most creatures in this way. So, it's formidable for monsters...if you can hit their normal AC, of course. The original version (I actually had a player of mine use this once or twice) used a touch attack for everything and dealt automatic damage alongside the sunder attempt, so...it was pretty messy and potentially broken.

Total Defense: the total defense action is a stance adopted when the character must protect itself from an attack (or a volley of attacks). Any creature may initiate a total defense maneuver as a standard action, but only after moving (else, it is a full-round action). While under total defense, the character gains a +5 dodge bonus to AC; if the character uses a shield, it also gains the benefit of cover (+4 bonus to AC and +2 bonus to Reflex saves).

Total Defense was changed based on the "Defend" command of most tactical RPGs, which allows full defense after movement. This isn't a bad idea, since no one ever uses Total Defense anyways, and at least this way you can draw closer to the enemy and do something when you can't get near, though only for purposes of movement (so, no change weapon and then total defense or something).

Trip: perhaps one of the most useful tactics along with grapple, trip has been often used by characters with reach weapons as a method of controlling the opponent’s movement. Thus, the trip attempt remains mostly as the original version, except as follows: there is no touch attack (though the character still provokes an attack of opportunity) and instead of an opposed Strength check (or Strength vs. Dexterity), the character makes an opposed attack roll (BAB + Strength or Dexterity modifier, whichever is higher). If successful, the creature is prone on the ground; if failed, the creature may make an attack roll against the character’s attack roll result to determine if the character falls instead. When using a reach weapon designed for tripping, the character may elect to drop the weapon to prevent being tripped. A trip attempt may be done as a standard action or as part of a full attack action.

Trip is now easier to do, and works wonders with both nimble characters and strong ones. Enabling Strength and/or Dexterity as the main score and simplifying it to a single opposed check (instead of the hassle of a touch attack) which adds your BAB makes tripping far more efficient. I must admit, I basically did the CMB/CMD thing on grapple and trip, but not on everything else, and didn't gave it a fancy name (instead, just made it an opposed roll).

Two-Weapon Fighting: since two-weapon fighting is the province of a feat, any improvements are best explained within the feat.

T.G. Oskar
2012-05-06, 04:13 AM
All characters have a need for magic items. However, the bulk of all magic items usually benefit spellcasters over other characters. Specifically, a spellcaster can use a wand, scroll or staff to extend their adventuring time and specifically to hold the right spell at the right moment. A spellcaster doesn’t really need a magic item, but undoubtedly it benefits it; on the other hand, non-spellcasting classes virtually depend on magic items for their needs, or else they fall behind, and badly. Certainly, a spellcaster wouldn’t make much use of a +2 longsword…except for the fact that they have greater magic weapon and can turn a mundane weapon into a magical weapon for an extended amount of time per day. In fact, a +1 longsword with the equivalent in special abilities of a +10 magic weapon is far more cost-effective for anybody than a +5 longsword with the equivalent in special abilities of a +10 magic weapon. Similarly, potions are often considered poorly cost-effective, mostly in the case of wands which provide the same benefit, but for an extended amount of time. To explain: a potion with a 1st level spell costs 50 gold pieces. A wand with the same 1st level spell (both, of course, at caster level 1) costs 750 gold pieces. A simple division means that a wand is the equivalent of 15 potions, which is of course blatantly abusive. The main difference is that a wand may be used only by spellcasters (or characters with Use Magic Device), while a potion may be used by anybody. In any case, a potion is not cost effective. Furthermore, while potions are normally ensorcelled with magic spells, the concept of potion-making works best with alchemy, and an apothecarian should be more than capable of handling the necessary words and gestures to create potions. Finally, being that even a commoner may use a potion to good effort, there must be a mean to create potions for nearly everybody, but that specific people (namely, martial characters) gain some benefit from it. Thus, potions change to the following:

Potions: a potion contains a liquid that every now and then duplicates the effect of a spell. There are two kinds of potions: alchemical potions (those created by apothecaries and alchemists) and magical potions (those created by spellcasters).

To create a potion, a character needs the following: first, the Brew Potion feat. Second, the character either must be a spellcaster or have several ranks on Craft (alchemy) (which shouldn't be limited only to people with 1 caster level). Finally, the character must work on a laboratory.

The cost of a potion is as follows. An alchemical potion’s cost is equal to the duplicated spell’s level x the minimum spell level to cast the spell x 15 gp. Alchemical formulas require the individual to succeed on a Craft (alchemy) check equal to 15 + the level of the spell to be duplicated. Thus, to duplicate a 1st level spell, the character must succeed on a DC 16 Craft (alchemy) check per each day it takes to brew the potion (a failed check delays the creation of the potion by one day). A character creating an alchemical potion must expend XP as usual for creating the item (1/25th of the GP cost of the potion, minimum 1 XP) to create the item. A character creating an alchemical potion cannot make a potion with a higher caster level than the minimum to cast the spell if the character knew the spell.

Magical potions are almost exactly the same as alchemical potions, with a few differences: the character does not need to make a Craft (alchemy) check, and the character may make a potion of a normally higher caster level.

All potions emulate spells of up to 3rd level, with a casting time of no less than one minute, without a costly material component, and with a range of personal or touch. Magical potions emanate a magical aura, and may be identified with a detect magic and a Spellcraft check (or better divination spell), while an alchemical potion may be identified with an Appraise check (skill check DC equal to 15 + the level of the spell). Alchemical potions never emanate a magical aura, even though they do duplicate the effects of a spell.

Regardless of the type of potion, martial characters gain a peculiar benefit when using a potion. A martial character may treat the potion’s caster level as equal to its effective fighter level, its initiator level or the caster level of the potion (whichever is higher). Thus, a 5th level fighter that drinks a potion of cure light wounds heals 1d8+5 hit points, instead of the basic 1d8+1. A potion created with a higher caster level (hence, a magical potion, although there is the theory that some alchemical potions may be created with unusual potency) will manifest the effect at the intended caster level unless the character has levels on a martial class with effective fighter levels, in which the character uses its effective fighter levels if those are higher (or if character’s IL is higher, it uses the IL instead)

Oils: oil behaves in many ways as a potion, except that it deals with spells that affect objects exclusively (such as magic weapon). Alchemical oil is simply and commonly known as oil, while magically created oil is commonly called oleum.

Unguent and Salve: unguents are oily or creamy compounds that behave almost exactly like potions in all senses, except that the effect has a range of touch instead of a range of personal. Because of the forced alteration of range, an unguent or salve (salve being the magical equivalent of the alchemical unguent) costs an amount of gold pieces equal to the level of the spell x the spell’s caster level (minimum for unguents) x 25 gold pieces.

Here's another big change. How'd you like a potion of Shield of Faith lasting 20 minutes and providing a +5 deflection bonus to AC for merely 15 gp? Doesn't that sound fantastic? How about having a +5 magic weapon for nearly 1 whole day for 375 gp?

Really, potions need some love. Reducing their price wasn't just enough; potions needed to be something that could be produced cheaply, without the need for magic, and that martial characters could essentially exploit. Having studied Chemistry for a while (and attempting to finish my degree in Chemical Engineering one of these days), I find it's a moral imperative to make potions as awesome as possible. Thus, for the same cost of a wand, you can get 50 potions that are more cost-effective on the hands of a fighter than on the hands of a spellcaster, though the spellcaster will still have the spells around for its own leisure, and the martial character will be limited to 3rd level spells or lower (so no Spell Resistance, Divine Power, Stoneskin, Greater Invisibility and so forth).

So, why martial characters maximize the worth of a potion? One thing I'd like to think is that everyone has some sort of magic (except psionics, which have mental power, and people like Superman and Spider-Man [novas, supers, mutants, metas or whatever you wish to call them] which have a different source of power), which can be developed by means of training. Wizards and Clerics unleash that power via spells; Paladins and Rangers do the same but cannot release the same power as they have martial training. Fighters, Barbarians and others, on the other hand, release that power through magic items, such as weapons, armor and potions. While they can't understand scrolls or wands, much less staffs, they can use a magic weapon with better efficacy than a spellcaster, and they can heighten the effect of a potion. While this may screw up those who think mundane characters should be as awesome as magic-using characters, the way D&D is designed simply doesn't allow that degree of parity (here's hoping D&D 5e does that, but I wouldn't raise my hopes so high).

Poisons: albeit poisons are not magical items, they are traditionally weak given their fixed DC. Of course, the idea is to have an item with fixed DC, one that does not scale with level. Some poisons are extraordinarily difficult to create, costing upwards of over 4,000 gold pieces; others are simpler, costing a mere 75 gold pieces. However, for all of their cost, their biggest problem is the lack of scaling.

To remedy this, a poison’s base cost determines the base saving throw DC for the poison. For every 1% increase in price, the save DC for the poison increases by 1; as well, a character may make a Craft (alchemy) check to intensify the effect of a store-bought poison. To intensify the effect of a poison, the character must be located on a laboratory, expend an amount of gold pieces on components equal to 1% of the original cost per increase in saving throw DC.

Creating a poison requires ranks in Craft (alchemy) and succeeding on a skill check against DC 15 (thus, the skill Craft [poisonmaking] ceases to exist, as most alchemists were also master poisoners; poisons were often used to counter the effects of other poisons) per each day required.

Actually, there's a hint of truth to the matter; alchemists were, by necessity, experts in the art of poisoning, because most components they dealt with are either extremely corrosive or noxious. Chlorine? Sulphur? Mercury vapors? Thus, the art of making poisons is closely tied to the art of alchemy (the precursor of modern chemistry), so it's no big deal to consider that some skill folding must be done.

That said, some of the poisons may be overpriced considering that, for the same price, you can superpower a poison. Since Craft time is based on the cost of the item, by the time you can make one of the deadlier poisons, you can make one of the weaker ones but with a DC rounding the thousands!

That means a check-up to poisons is at hand. However, consider that, at the very least, you can't expend more than 10% of the base cost improving a poison, so that the higher-level poisons still have their utility.

As well, the following magic items have minor changes:

Scrolls: a character that has the correct level to cast a spell from a scroll may attempt to use its own caster level to empower the effect of a scroll. To do so, the character must succeed on a caster level check, with a DC equal to 5 + the intended caster level (thus, in essence, a spellcaster has a reasonable “buffer” of 5 in which the risk to fail activating the spell or creating a mishap is minimal). A spellcaster may not increase the caster level of a spell cast from a scroll beyond its own caster level. The same effect can be achieved with a Use Magic Device check, except the DC is equal to 20 + the intended caster level (as usual for casting a spell from a scroll, but enhanced)

To put it succinctly: potions are better with martial characters, so scrolls are better with spellcasters. Boosting the scroll's caster level makes a scroll a deadly weapon in the hands of any spellcaster, as you can have a sorcerer or wizard "prepare" spells that are sparingly used into scrolls whose caster level equals theirs.

Staffs: a spellcaster that wishes to cast a spell from a staff may sacrifice spell slots to cast the spell instead of charges, at a ratio of 1:1 (one spell slot per charge reduction). If a staff has no charges, a spellcaster may not use this option. A wasted staff or partially charged staff may be transformed into a runestaff (MIC) that uses the same spells contained in the staff; treat as if creating a runestaff, except that if the staff still retains charges, the price is reduced by an amount of gold pieces equal to [(1/number of charges remaining) x 50]% of the cost to create a runestaff.

Staffs already have the choice of casting spells boosted by caster level, and they're already pretty awesome, but they are prohibitively expensive. Thus, two options to save money appear as follows: one, you can use your spell slots (at a very unusual ratio) to cast spells (thus, you can spend many 1st level spell slots to cast a 9th level spell, saving charges, but leaving you out of potentially useful 1st level spells); two, you can make those wasted staffs that still hold some special property into awesome runestaffs that sorcerers can exploit.

Wands: by increasing the wand’s base cost by 10%, the creator of a wand may allow any individual to use the wand even if said individual has no spellcasting ability. Thus, a wand of fireball (5th level), which normally costs 11,250 gp may be increased in cost to 12,375 gp and enable any character to use the item. The remaining traits of the wand remain the same.

This is a homage to rogue-likes. In these games, any class (not just spellcasters) could use wands. Thus, by increasing its cost, anyone could use a wand. Thus, a fighter could use a Wand of Cure Light Wounds at CL 1st for slightly more than it could use 50 potions, and not as effectively as buying 50 unguents (or salves) which hold the same properties as the potion and the same CL boost from the fighter as per with potions. On the other hand, it makes anyone without UMD capable of using some spells.

As potions belong to martial characters and scrolls belong to spellcasters, I find wands belong best in the hands of skillmonkeys. Bards, rogues, factotum and others tend to work best with a few wands at their disposal. Much like you could boost the power of potions through effective Fighter levels and the power of scrolls via risking mishaps, a skillmonkey could power up wands in some way (Use Magic Device, perhaps?). If you like the idea, post it and tell me what could be done.

T.G. Oskar
2012-05-06, 04:19 AM
The two special abilities referred here mostly apply to a specific ability that should work better as a percentage reduction rather than a direct reduction.

Damage Reduction: Ideally, a creature with damage reduction should have an ability to reduce damage substantially, specifically for melee attacks of all kinds. In practice, damage reduction only punishes multiple attacks that deal minor damage instead of a single attack that deals damage upwards to the dozens of points of damage, if not the hundreds. The amount reduced is just too small compared to the average damage that can be achieved with little effort by a character with a two-handed weapon using a reasonable amount of Power Attack. Thus, a character with 1 point of damage reduction is no better than the character with none, because the reduction is just too little.

Thus, in the best interest of improving this ability, damage reduction should be altered to apply as a percentage reduction. The idea behind this is that, even if the reduction is minimal, it should reduce a substantially higher amount of damage as the damage itself increases, thus providing a much more potent method of actual damage reduction that applies to damage that actually overflows the normal amounts. This can be done with a minimum exchange.

Whenever there is a mention of damage reduction on the entry, the entry will generally read DR X/Y, where X is a number and Y the method of bypassing this reduction. X is generally a small number (usually 5, but can reach as low as 1), so the best way to deal with this is as follows: for every point of damage reduction the entry has, the character reduces 5% of the damage received, with a minimum reduction of 1 per point of reduction. Thus, a character with DR 1/- reduces 5% of all damage received (rounded down), but it always reduces at least 1 point of damage; equally, a character with DR 5/magic reduces 25% points of damage from the attack (also rounded down), and it always reduces at least 5 points of damage (unless using a magic weapon or making an attack with a weapon considered magical even if it has no enhancements). Thus, an attack that deals 30 points of damage to a character with DR 1/- is reduced by 1 point of damage (because it would actually reduce 1.5 points of damage, which is rounded down to 1), while a character with DR 5/magic would have the damage reduced by 7 (because one quarter of 30 is 7.5, which is reduced to 7). A reduction of 5% in damage may not seem as substantial, but a reduction of 15% or 25% is actually quite substantial. If applying this trait, consider the two following things: always assume the maximum DR possible is 20 (however, the maximum percentage reduction is always 95%), damage reduction without a bypassing method will be limited to 10 (thus, a character with DR X/- will never have more than 50% of damage reduction), and damage reduction always applies last, after any other traits that reduce damage are applied (such as having the benefit of a shield other spell).

This is the special ability I've tested the most, and it has had satisfactory results. While it requires a calculator (or a really, really good brain), it makes damage reduction a veritable threat, even a lowly DR of 1. Of course, the higher the DR the better: a DR of 5 actually means one-quarter of all damage is reduced, whereas a DR of 10 means half the damage is reduced.

While it still hurts characters that deal multiple hits if they do little damage, the pain is lessened quite a bit. Consider, for example, a character with DR 5 hit by 5 arrows that deal 20 points of damage and then by 1 melee attack that deals 100 points of damage. One-quarter of 20 is 5, so all 5 attacks would have their damage reduced by 25; however, the melee attack that deals 100 points of damage also has its damage reduced by 25. On the other hand, let's see where the differences happen: assume a character with DR 5 hit by 5 arrows that deal 15 points of damage and then by 1 melee attack that deals 75 points of damage. One-quarter of 15 is 3 (3.75, but rounded down it becomes 3), so the arrows deal only 10 points of damage, for a total of 50 damage. Meanwhile, the single melee attack loses only 18 points of damage (one-quarter of 75 is 18.75, rounded down to 18), so the attack deals 57 points of damage; a clear 7-point difference. Compared, however, to the difference between 50 damage and 70 damage, the reduction is far more valuable. Multiple attacks that deal extra dice of damage may eventually compensate simple melee attacks that deal exorbitant amounts of damage, as percentage-based reduction eventually, at a certain level, hurts more big numbers than small numbers.

As for percentage reduction being bothersome...well, I've seen D&D is not very kind to simple mathematics, and usually calculators are allowed, and I'm not really sure you can enjoy D&D if you're 8 years old (12, maybe, but not 8). And decimal-to-percentage conversions are still a part of arithmetic, so it's not like you're dealing with some complex calculations either.

Energy Resistance: Unlike damage reduction, which has a very limited degree of reduction, energy resistance has a greater degree of utility. Even 10 points of energy resistance are useful, because they’re easy to get (the resist energy spell) and energy damage scales poorly (as most evocation spells). Thus, energy resistance could reliably exist as a direct reduction to energy damage instead of a percentage-based reduction.

However, let’s assume that a game has enough modifiers to energy damage that at 11th level, an energy damage spell deals three times the maximum energy resistance you’d usually get (generally 30), so that would imply the same problem as damage reduction; overflow damage makes energy resistance less impressive. Thus, energy resistance could work as a percentage-based reduction of damage, but with a wider variance; while damage reduction has an exchange rate of 5% per point of damage reduction, energy resistance has an exchange rate of 2% per point of energy resistance. Thus, a spell such as resist energy would reduce 20% of all energy damage, with a minimum reduction of 10 points, while at 11th level such reduction would be 60% and 30 points, respectively. Creatures with over 50 points of energy resistance on a particular type of energy are instead treated as immune to damage. This makes damage reduction and energy resistance roughly equal with overflowing damage, but energy resistance surpasses damage reduction in terms of minimum damage reduced.

I'll be honest with you guys: I don't use this rule in my own table. It's not properly playtested, but it's a good observation based on damage reduction.

On the other hand, I've been more than nice enough with damage in most of my retools. The Retooled Warmage is the biggest offender; on playtest results, the damage dealt by the Warmage (not to mention the spells she used, such as Prying Eyes to investigate a whole island at a 100 mile radius, or Fire Shield [Warm] to protect herself from a White Dragon's breath attacks and natural weapon assault) clearly overcame the mountains of damage dealt by the damage-optimized Fighter (and I speak of a Fighter that could easily one-shot everything, and the Warmage only needed to cast the spell as a full-round action to deal about one-fifth of the Fighter's damage against five times the number of enemies around). Thus, in the case Evocation spells deal "Yes" damage to most of your creatures (or your party members, if a player), Energy Resistance has a caveat which allows it to work as well as the modified Damage Reduction.

Still: use it only if you consider blaster mages deal campaign-wrecking damage. It's best used against Mailman builds, which deal exorbitant amounts of damage. However, for your vanilla blaster wizard, this may seem like overkill. I don't want blaster wizards to suffer, but rather to have martial characters and blaster wizards do mostly equivalent damage on their own terms.


That said: questions? Comments?

I really, really, REALLY need comments on these alternate rules. I've tested pretty well the iteratives-as-standard-actions and damage reduction rules and I find them excellent, but the rest has only been tested sparingly. As you may know, I could use a good editor to check and recheck the rules so that they're simple to use yet effective when they need to be used. The grapple rules could use a good once-over, as well as the sunder rules, and those whom are familiar with Pathfinder rules could improve backwards compatibility between these rules and the CMB concept which a few of these maneuvers use.

You can say if you like them or not, as well. I don't mind if you say they suck, so as long as you can help improve them (and not just say "X or Y did it better" and keeping it like that; ideas on how to improve things based on what other 'brewers did is cool, but fangasming isn't).

2012-05-06, 09:20 AM
I read through it, on the whole it was good. The only problem I had was I'm not sure I liked what you did with Crossbows. I don't like that they receive no extra damage on their own, when Dexterity could be easily justified and Crossbow Sniper could be removed as a feat tax. The rules for adding on strength, while somewhat interesting, just seem to be a money sink, and an unneeded additional roll. It seems to simulationist, when you could just abstract them to working the same way as bows. That's my only complaint, really.

2012-05-07, 02:24 AM
This is all very good looking.
Except the crossbow rules. You just nerfed them while giving the only reason to use them to bows and slings. Dex to damage. The Str check will make you waste more actions on crossbows. This is not a good thing. It means there is no reason to use them unless they are your only option.