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Ursus Spelaeus
2017-02-03, 12:48 PM
*EDIT*
I meant to post this in homebrew. Mods, kindly move this. Thank you!

These are some flaws I'm homebrewing for a 3.5 campaign I'm trying to organize in my area.
All classes from the PHB are banned in this campaign. Only base classes from the following sources are allowed:
Expanded Psionics Handbook
Mind's Eye (the Psychic Rogue, I mean)
Tome of Battle (unarmed swordsage allowed, arcane swordsage banned)
Magic of Incarnum

Now, some of the players sound like they'll miss the flavor of the PHB classes, and may reskin classes to look more like wizards and druids. This is allowed, and I'm writing up some flaws to help adapt psionic classes to that end.
Players may take up to two flaws to gain two additional feats at character creation.

Here are the flaws:

Metal Allergy: You can't use psionic powers, psi-like abilities, or supernatural abilities while wearing metal (or crystal) armor.

Piety: You can't use psionic powers, psi-like abilities, or supernatural abilities unless you are wearing or holding a divine focus.

Daily Prayer: Choose a deity, a cardinal direction, and a time of day. You can't recover power points or daily abilities after a rest unless you've prayed to the chosen deity at the chosen time while facing the chosen direction within the last 24 hours.

Code of Conduct: Choose any lawful and/or good alignment. You can't use psionic powers, psi-like abilities, or supernatural abilities unless your alignment matches the chosen alignment.


...And here are some more, just for fun.

Nightmare: Whenever you rest, you must make a Will save or Autohypnosis (DC equals 10 +CR of most recent encounter) or your rest is interrupted. In addition, the dungeon master may make you role play plot-relevant dream sequences containing important exposition.

Critical Fumble: Whenever you roll a natural 1 on a skill check, something hilarious and contrived happens! (I actually hate critical fumble rules, but I understand that some players expect them so I'll make it an opt-in thing.)

Delicious Brains: Your grey-matter is delicious. Aberrations gain a +2 racial bonus to attack rolls against you.

JoshuaZ
2017-02-03, 12:54 PM
Unless aberrations are essentially the only enemy that last flaw is much much less of a hassle than the others. Piety is also a very weak flaw.

icefractal
2017-02-03, 02:05 PM
Metal Allergy and Piety seem about right - they're not too hard to work around, but neither are many of the existing flaws, so sure.

Daily Prayer - possibly too harsh, since it can be prevented by inconveniently timed events as well as simply being underground and not knowing the correct direction/time. Maybe allow two different times they can pray during the day? And/or make the time a moderately large window like an hour?

Code of Conduction: You just have to keep your alignment the same as when you started - not much of a flaw.

Nightmare - Not too hard to deal with if you put points in Autohypnosis, but it is some risk and flavorful - good one. Probably my favorite of these.

Critical Fumble - Looks good. Probably one of the harsher flaws technically speaking, but since people who take it will be desiring that kind of outcome, I don't forsee any complaints.

Delicious Brains - This is practically Murky Eyed in how minor it is, unless there are a lot of Aberrations as enemies.

Zaq
2017-02-03, 02:59 PM
As others have mentioned, these seem to be pretty minor overall, and very few of them will actually cause a noticeable setback to the character unless you (the GM) really go out of your way to make such a thing be an issue. If that's the intent, then you've succeeded.

The one that bothers me the most is Metal Allergy, just since its effects are the least equitable between classes. A straight-class Psion doesn't care about it one whit, since they basically don't wear physical armor anyway. (Yeah, yeah, people talk about Psions in full plate just sucking up the penalty because there's no spell failure for psionics, but since nonproficient ACP applies to, among other things, initiative and touch attacks, you're generally paying a pretty darn hefty penalty for the privilege.) A PsyWar or an Ardent, on the other hand, is going to have a relatively tough time with that flaw, since they generally want to wear metal armor. The weird part is when you look at Wilders or PsyRogues—they don't care much at early levels, since they're probably wearing leather armor or something similar anyway, but after they have enough WBL to look into something like a mithral breastplate, the flaw becomes something of an inconvenience. Now, it's basically impossible to make a flaw that applies universally to every possible class (but still offers a small enough penalty to be balanced), but it doesn't seem like a good idea to me to introduce a flaw that certain classes will basically ignore (because it doesn't penalize them) and some classes will never dream of touching (because it applies a ridiculous penalty to them) and some other classes will be moderately inconvenienced by (but not all the time).

Again, if your goal is to introduce flaws that don't really penalize the characters (and you functionally just want to give out extra feats without literally offering something for nothing), then that's great. But most of these are even easier to circumvent than the SRD flaws.

Flickerdart
2017-02-03, 03:16 PM
Flaws are a tricky beast. They should, in theory, be slightly worse than a level 1 feat, but this brings with it two problems:
a) Even at level 1, feats run the gamut from crap like Weapon Focus to game-breakers like Linked Power.
b) The player typically gets to choose the flaw, which means they will pick something that has the least impact possible on the character.

So a good flaw has two aspects to balance:
a) It must not be so minor that taking the trade is always worth it for most feats, but it must not be so major that it's never worth it even for the best feats.
b) It must not make the PC worse at his focus (otherwise what would be the point), but it must not be completely avoidable.

There are really two approaches to this.

Rethink the flaw system
You know that thing they do in Hell with ironic punishments? It's a wonderful idea. If your player wants to take a flaw, bundle it with the feat in question. You want to take a metapsionic feat? Your flaw is Psychic Fatigue - while you are not psionically focused, you are fatigued, or expending your psi focus makes you take damage, or something.

Use flaws to counter strong strategies
Compare a psion to a soulknife. One of them could be playable (and even quite good) with no feats at all; the other is awful even with feats. The psion would be all too happy to tank his physical attributes to gain more mental power, because psionics are awesome. The soulknife would love to have more feats, but he can't afford to take a hit to his core competency. If there was only one flaw and it said "your level is considered 1 lower for calculating PP, minimum 1" the soulknife basically gets it for free, but the psion would have to think hard.

OldTrees1
2017-02-03, 03:46 PM
Rethink the flaw system
You know that thing they do in Hell with ironic punishments? It's a wonderful idea. If your player wants to take a flaw, bundle it with the feat in question. You want to take a metapsionic feat? Your flaw is Psychic Fatigue - while you are not psionically focused, you are fatigued, or expending your psi focus makes you take damage, or something.

Honestly this method does not need to be so strict as to bind it to the feat in question. Doing so is merely a means of making it easier to brainstorm a meaningful flaw. However it is a good grounding to start from when designing character specific flaws rather than feat specific flaws.

Flickerdart
2017-02-03, 04:28 PM
Honestly this method does not need to be so strict as to bind it to the feat in question. Doing so is merely a means of making it easier to brainstorm a meaningful flaw. However it is a good grounding to start from when designing character specific flaws rather than feat specific flaws.

I think it's more effective when forcibly tied to a feat or group of feats. A character that takes Psychic Fatigue without any abilities that would expend his psionic focus can just "focus up" at the beginning of each day to get around the flaw.

Of course, as a DM instead of a game designer, you can always homebrew unique flaws for each PC that wants to take more feats than normal, and give them the choice of accepting the flaw or not.

nijineko
2017-02-03, 05:26 PM
you should not include crystal in the metal allergy. given the number of psionic items that incorporate or are made from crystal, this is effectively the same as saying you can't use almost any items at all.

Libro
2017-02-03, 06:25 PM
you should not include crystal in the metal allergy. given the number of psionic items that incorporate or are made from crystal, this is effectively the same as saying you can't use almost any items at all.

Metal allergy only applies to metal and crystal armor, not all crystal items, so that is not a concern.

Ursus Spelaeus
2017-02-04, 10:45 AM
So, it looks like Nightmare is the real winner here.
It has an effect that's relevant to most characters (or at least the higher tier ones)
It kind of scales, so it stays relevant at higher levels of play
It also serves a story purpose; the DM can use it to push the plot along

Do those sound like good guidelines for flaws?

Suppose I were to expand on this with a sort of sanity mechanic inspired by Nechronica RPG's fetters.
Each fetter has a stress limit, and an effect that triggers when the limit is reached.
You accumulate stress over the course of play (from combat and horrifying scenery). You also gain one point of stress at the beginning of your turn during every round of combat. When you gain stress, add it to any one fetter you have of your choice.
Allies can make Charisma checks to reduce your stress.

Nightmare [Fetter Flaw]
Stress Limit = 5 + Wisdom modifier + ECL
Stress Effect: Your rest is interrupted by horrific visions narrated by the DM. You become fatigued, and you cannot regain expended power points or daily abilities.

Hostility [Fetter Flaw]
Stress Limit = 5 + Wisdom modifier + ECL
Stress Effect: At the end of your turn, if you've attacked an enemy and missed, make one additional attack as a free action against the nearest ally of your choice.

Self-Harm [Fetter Flaw]
Stress Limit = 5 + Wisdom modifier + ECL
Stress Effect: At the end of your turn, take damage equal to your ECL. This damage can't be healed as long as this fetter is over its stress limit.

Excess [Fetter Flaw]
Stress Limit = 5 + Wisdom modifier + ECL
Stress Effect: At the end of your turn, gain one point of stress.

Despair [Fetter Flaw]
Stress Limit = 5 + Wisdom modifier + ECL
Stress Effect: You can't regain hit points.

Shared Agony [Fetter Flaw]
Stress Limit = 5 + Wisdom modifier + ECL
Stress Effect: Choose an ally. When the chosen ally takes damage, you also take half that amount of damage.

Flickerdart
2017-02-04, 03:38 PM
When you gain stress, add it to any one fetter you have of your choice.
This encourages PCs to take more flaws - if you have two flaws, it takes twice as long for bad stuff to affect you.



Nightmare [Fetter Flaw]
Stress Limit = 5 + Wisdom modifier + ECL
Stress Effect: Your rest is interrupted by horrific visions narrated by the DM. You become fatigued, and you cannot regain expended power points or daily abilities.

Not worth taking this for a feat - your character basically becomes useless, since they cannot manifest.



Hostility [Fetter Flaw]
Stress Limit = 5 + Wisdom modifier + ECL
Stress Effect: At the end of your turn, if you've attacked an enemy and missed, make one additional attack as a free action against the nearest ally of your choice.

Any option that makes party members hate one another is a bad option. This kind of crap is why everyone hates Frenzied Berserker.



Self-Harm [Fetter Flaw]
Stress Limit = 5 + Wisdom modifier + ECL
Stress Effect: At the end of your turn, take damage equal to your ECL. This damage can't be healed as long as this fetter is over its stress limit.

Easily mitigated with vigor.



Excess [Fetter Flaw]
Stress Limit = 5 + Wisdom modifier + ECL
Stress Effect: At the end of your turn, gain one point of stress.

Does nothing by itself, so if I could take 1 flaw, I would always take this one. Way too harsh if you have another fetter flaw.



Despair [Fetter Flaw]
Stress Limit = 5 + Wisdom modifier + ECL
Stress Effect: You can't regain hit points.

Way too harsh.



Shared Agony [Fetter Flaw]
Stress Limit = 5 + Wisdom modifier + ECL
Stress Effect: Choose an ally. When the chosen ally takes damage, you also take half that amount of damage.
Too easy to get around - just pick your own psicrystal, or a back-bench party member, or your elderly uncle who's never been in battle and never shall be.