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Lacuna Caster
2018-10-08, 09:02 AM
I wasn't quite sure whether to put this thread under Homebrew or more general RPG discussion, and there's probably plenty of design precedent for this that I just haven't dug up, but FWIW I've been thinking about how one might transition standard D&D into a relatively classless system, with particular attention to spellcasting mechanics. I'm mostly familiar with 3.5e rules, and theoretically attracted to the E6/E8 ruleset for it's relative grittiness, so I'll be using that as a reference/point of departure. This is all going to be very free-association, and I'm sure I'll donk up some of the math, so feel free to correct me as I go.


Anyway, basic mechanics: Since you don't have a wizard/sorc/cleric class, what you get instead are the Faith and Arcana skills, and you don't get spells-per-day, you get a reserve of spell points a la the Psion classes. The DC to cast a given spell is 20 + (spell-level x 10). Taking 10 and Taking 20 are permitted as circumstances allow.

So a level 1 character with maxxed out skill ranks and excellent stat bonus and maybe a specialising feat or two can just about muster the +10 skill bonus needed to cast a level 1 spell, assuming they have oodles of time to do it without distractions.

Spell-point (SP) cost for a spell equals it's level + 1. Off the top of my head, let's say you get (skill bonus / 2) total SP, so our level-1 character gets 5 SP. That's enough for 1 level-1 and 3 level-0 spells in a day, or 2 level-1 and 1 level-0 spells. That seems comparable to a standard newbie wizard.

A level 5 spell has a casting DC of 70. If characters max out at level 10, let's say our veteran caster has 20 ranks in Arcana, +10 from their casting stat, +10 from feats specialising in a particular school of magic, and a +10 bonus from the proper use of equipment and lab facilities (see below.)

So if our hypothetical veteran mage takes 20 on the casting check, they can barely pull off, say, a Teleport spell. A Raise Dead would likewise be just about possible for the most seasoned of clerics. With 15 spell-points, their overall casting-quota is fairly limited relative to a standard D&D wizard at level 10 (I'm not sure if that's reasonably balanced relative to level-10 fighters or needs further tweaking.)

Any spells beyond that range require enormous bonuses that have to be acquired by unusual means- communal prayer, vows and ritual sacrifice for cleric/paladin types, lengthy lab preparations, ornate magitech or draining sorcerous metamagic for wizards. So, e.g, casting True Resurrection or Earthquake requires dozens of bloody sacrifices and a thousand-strong cult chanting in unison, while casting Gate or Time Stop requires a year of meticulous preparation, or stands a 50/50 chance of killing the caster, or both.

I had some loose notes on what the supplementary rules might look like, which depart pretty far from standard D&D, but I've included for the sake of completeness. (I suspect there could be some problems with the downtime cycle expected under, e.g, 5e rules, which I actually quite like, but I have a certain fondness for the research-focused hermetic wizard archetype.) Something else I'd like to do is try to refactor the standard spell list down a relative handful of core spells (e.g, the create-undead sequence, the planar ally/binding sequence, the cure-sequence and raise-dead sequence, etc.) But that's probably a whole new discussion...



Communal Prayer (clerics only)
Congregation Size-
x10 = +5 bonus
x100 = +10 bonus
x1000 = +15 bonus
Other Clerics' Faith-
Total of 10 = +5 bonus
Total of 25 = +10 bonus
Total of 100 = +15 bonus
Note: Congregations must pray for entire duration of casting.
Note: Other clerics must roll against half spell DC to participate.

Divine Domains (clerics only)
Certain spell-types excluded.
Theology (feat, multiple tiers)
+1 SP, +1 casting bonus, +2 for domain.
+2 SP, +3 casting bonus, +6 for domain.
+3 SP, +5 casting bonus, +10 for domain.

Vows Of Devotion (clerics only)
Specified per deity, up to 3 at once.
+1/+3/+5 caster bonus per vow, depending on length kept.
Lay Hands, Divine Grace etc. as chained feats.

Offer Sacrifice (clerics only)
Material Goods / Animal Sacrifice:
50 GP worth +1
250 GP worth +3
1000 GP worth +5
2500 GP worth +7
10000 GP worth +10
Human Blood +1 per 3 HP damage, max. +10
Human Death +15
Human Death x10 +20
Human Death x100 +25
Death of Self +30
Note: Items offered in sacrifice can never be raised or regenerated.
Not all deities accept all sacrifices.
Only the single highest bonus is taken.



Mnemonic Ritual (wizards only)
Additional Precautions-
Time x10 = +5 bonus (DC 10 Arcana x1)
Time x100 = +10 bonus (DC 25 Arcana x2)
Time x1000 = +15 bonus (DC 40 Arcana x3)
Note: Time bonus already assumes you are taking 20.
Suitable Facilities-
Small Study = +5 bonus (1 GP rent+supplies/day)
Large Studio = +10 bonus (5 GP rent+supplies/day)
Ornate Laboratory = +15 bonus (25 GP rent+supplies/day)
Note: Arcana roll is needed to resume casting after absence.

Sorcerous Blood (wizards only)
Must be taken at character creation.
Quickened Spell
For casting in a reduced time, such as in combat.
+10 DC/+5 DC/+0 DC. (Can never take 10, however.)
Exhausting Spell
Spend fatigue/SP to grant a bonus to the casting check.
+5 caster bonus = +2 SP, +5 fatigue.
+15 caster bonus = +5 SP, +25 fatigue.
+25 caster bonus = +8 SP, +45 fatigue.
Fatigue in excess of current HP becomes injury instead.

School Of Study (wizards only)
Sphere Of Study
+2 bonus for a broad group:
Abjuration vs. Evocation & Transmutation
Divination vs. Illusion & Enchantment
Restoration vs. Necromancy
Conjuration
School Focus [X]
+3/+5/+8 bonus to specific school, -3/5/8 penalty to opposite.
(Cannot choose Conjuration.)
Master of Summoning
+5 bonus to Conjuration spells that contact or bind outsiders.
+5 bonus to dialog checks with such outsiders.
Master of Apparition
+10 bonus to teleportation, dysjunction, astral projection, etc.

Equipment Use (wizards only)
Props can be used to store spells for later casting.
+2/+4/+6 bonus spell points.
3rd, 6th and 9th-level spell respectively.
Staves have the advantage of being more robust.
Wands have the advantage of being more portable.
Scrolls only store a single spell, but are cheap.
The Arcana DC for casting from props is halved.
Iron & Grounding
Light Armour:
+5 spontaneous caster DC, max spell level of 4
Medium Armour:
+10 spontaneous caster DC, max spell level of 3
Heavy Armour:
+15 spontaneous caster DC, max spell level of 2
Prepared spells in excess of maximum require Arcana checks at full DC.

PairO'Dice Lost
2018-10-08, 03:52 PM
So a level 1 character with maxxed out skill ranks and excellent stat bonus and maybe a specialising feat or two can just about muster the +10 skill bonus needed to cast a level 1 spell, assuming they have oodles of time to do it without distractions.

Spell-point (SP) cost for a spell equals it's level + 1. Off the top of my head, let's say you get (skill bonus / 2) total SP, so our level-1 character gets 5 SP. That's enough for 1 level-1 and 3 level-0 spells in a day, or 2 level-1 and 1 level-0 spells. That seems comparable to a standard newbie wizard.

A level 5 spell has a casting DC of 70. If characters max out at level 10, let's say our veteran caster has 20 ranks in Arcana, +10 from their casting stat, +10 from feats specialising in a particular school of magic, and a +10 bonus from the proper use of equipment and lab facilities (see below.)

So if our hypothetical veteran mage takes 20 on the casting check, they can barely pull off, say, a Teleport spell. A Raise Dead would likewise be just about possible for the most seasoned of clerics. With 15 spell-points, their overall casting-quota is fairly limited relative to a standard D&D wizard at level 10 (I'm not sure if that's reasonably balanced relative to level-10 fighters or needs further tweaking.)

So, the first question is, why don't you want characters to be able to actually use their class features? :smallamused:

That's a bit flippant, admittedly, but it's a common pitfall for skill-based casting homebrew to assume an absolutely optimal character when setting DCs, as you do here. Most characters are not in fact absolutely optimal, so against those DCs most characters would not in fact be able to cast those spells. Take your hypothetical veteran mage and subtract even a single +1 modifier and he can no longer cast 5th-level spells at all--not "not as reliably," at all. A 10th-level fighter isn't expected to need to roll a 20 to hit even-level opposition, and he can roll attack rolls literally all day, so requiring a natural 20 to cast level-appropriate spells in addition to a spell point cost is far too punitive.

The Truenamer fell into exactly the same trap, with the designers assuming people would dumpster-dive for modifiers and so setting the DCs too high to be reliably hit and then adding punishing Law modifiers on top, and we all know that Truenamers are basically useless unless you do all that dumpster-diving, so every truenamer is either a useless waste of space or is a carbon copy of every other truenamer with a greater amulet of the silver tongue, membership in the Paragnostic Assembly, and so forth. And utterances aren't even all that impressive, so even if you max everything out you don't get much for it; spells, being actually useful, would simply enforce more dumpster diving to get the necessary modifiers.


Any spells beyond that range require enormous bonuses that have to be acquired by unusual means- communal prayer, vows and ritual sacrifice for cleric/paladin types, lengthy lab preparations, ornate magitech or draining sorcerous metamagic for wizards. So, e.g, casting True Resurrection or Earthquake requires dozens of bloody sacrifices and a thousand-strong cult chanting in unison, while casting Gate or Time Stop requires a year of meticulous preparation, or stands a 50/50 chance of killing the caster, or both.

If you want magic to be relatively rare, low-power, and dangerous to the caster, you can just...do that. If you want earthquake to require a major sacrifice and true resurrection to require a huge cooperative casting effort, you can just add in rules for those sorts of things. Giving earthquake a component line of "V, S, M, Sacrifice" and true resurrection a component line of "V, S, DF, M, Ritual" achieves what you're aiming for without punishing casters for being casters. You can also increase casting times, require sites of power like wizard towers or profane shrines...the world is your Dire Oyster.

When you're expending limited resources, giving it a chance of usage failure doesn't really balance it; saving throws are already a chance of failure and that doesn't stop certain spells from being overpowered. If the idea is instead to slow down spellcasters so something formerly level-appropriate in D&D is now a long shot and you expect e.g. 10th level casters to rely more on 3rd-level spells than 5th-level spells, you can, again, just do that. You can pin max spell levels to levels, or to ranks in the corresponding skills, so casters have a slower-than-core-3e progression; nothing requires a one-spell-level-per-two-caster-levels progression for your game.

If after all those sorts of adjustments you still want to require skill checks to cast, I suggest you come up with an archetypal newbie caster character--something like a new-to-the-game non-hardcore-optimizer would make, that does obvious things like maxing out skill ranks or using a lab if it's given to the character for free, but has less-than-max ability scores and no obscure bonuses--and then gives that character a roughly 60% success rate at most levels. The character has invested at least as much into their magic skill as a rogue has invested into his Hide or Disable Device skill, and the rogue gets to reach a point where he automatically succeeds at all the routine tasks and is only challenged by truly epic opposition, so the caster character should be able to do the same.

That's a common thing in 3e: you have a DC formula of 10 or 15 plus X/spell level, so that something is very chancy for low-level casters but, as spell levels rise at +1/2 per level but skill ranks rise at +1 per level, the task becomes comparatively easier and eventually automatic. And that lets the character optimize up to a comfortable 75% success rate if they want to without feeling forced to get absolutely every bonus, and if they do dumpster-dive for 100%, good for them.


Thought experiment time:

1a) What does the game look like if every caster can pass every skill check with a 100% success rate? If the answer is "broken to all hell and back," then the spells themselves are probably broken; eventually a caster is going to hit a string of lucky rolls and look or feel overpowered, and the fact that it only happens when lots of 20s are rolled doesn't help things. If the answer is "like standard D&D balance-wise," there's no real need to add in all the extra bookkeeping for little result.

1b) What does the game look like if every caster can pass every skill check with no more than a 20% success rate? If the answer is "boring as hell for the caster," then the player isn't going to have a fun time being useless; eventually a caster is going to hit a string of unlucky rolls, and I have one player in my group who routinely rolls no higher than a 7 in an entire session who wouldn't be able to play a caster under these rules without feeling bad for his decision.

2) What does a skill-based casting system give you that simply giving everyone a bard's spellcasting progression and adding expensive/dangerous/cumbersome components to spells doesn't? If the answer is "nothing but extra modifier tracking," then again, the extra complexity probably isn't needed.

AtlasSniperman
2018-10-09, 03:55 AM
level 10 /SNIP/ 20 ranks in Arcana

I'm probably an idiot, but how? in PF ranks are max'd at =level and in 3.5 ranks are max'd at =level+3
How can a level 10 character have 20 ranks in a skill?
Or do you mean characters able to cast a 10th level spell? if so, why phrase it like that? I feel like I'm missing some large important part of your math here.

Believe me, I like skill-based magic, but the math has to work out well and has to be balanced for a generally optimized character. Forcing characters to become carbon copies to cast spells will not turn out well.

Lacuna Caster
2018-10-09, 05:47 AM
So, the first question is, why don't you want characters to be able to actually use their class features? :smallamused:

...A 10th-level fighter isn't expected to need to roll a 20 to hit even-level opposition, and he can roll attack rolls literally all day, so requiring a natural 20 to cast level-appropriate spells in addition to a spell point cost is far too punitive.
...Hmm, I didn't explain this well, did I.

The implied strategy here is that Taking 20 for casting rolls is generally used for preparing spells in advance. You go off to somewhere secluded and meditate for a few hours, and since you have plenty of time to concentrate it's assumed you take the best possible result. (Spell points and material components are only consumed when casting is successful, so there's no general drawback to repeated attempts.) Then you can fire the spell off later as and when required.

If you want to cast a spell on-the-spot, you either need to Take 10 under relatively calm conditions, or roll dice if you're in distracting conditions (such as combat.) It's closer to having to roll Concentration checks, basically. So every caster, in principle, can be a mix of spontaneous and prepped casting, depending on how many spell points they hold in reserve, and with the understanding that spontaneous casting is chancier.

Sorcerous blood lets you access some perks that improve spontaneous casting, and the paladin-feat-chain would also be largely aimed toward improving combat casting- first aid, smites & touch spells, etc. But since it's all skill based, the main difference between a paladin and a cleric is that the paladin has dumped more skill ranks in Close Combat, while the cleric has dumped more skill ranks in Faith (and taken a few theology/sacred-mystery feats.) In a certain sense a wizard is a character that rigorously optimised for arcane magic from day one- that's all that separates them from the professional template for, say, a bard or an eldritch knight.


If you want magic to be relatively rare, low-power, and dangerous to the caster, you can just...do that. If you want earthquake to require a major sacrifice and true resurrection to require a huge cooperative casting effort, you can just add in rules for those sorts of things. Giving earthquake a component line of "V, S, M, Sacrifice" and true resurrection a component line of "V, S, DF, M, Ritual" achieves what you're aiming for without punishing casters for being casters. You can also increase casting times, require sites of power like wizard towers or profane shrines...the world is your Dire Oyster.
Hmm. Rules for sacred ground/ley lines sound good, now that you mention it...

Part of the reason why I'd like to generalise the rules on augmenting spellcasting is so that low-level characters can use them too- e.g, if your buddy rogue just got bit by a werewolf, the party's junior cleric might not be able to cast 'remove curse' by themselves, but maybe if you get them to the village chapel and ask the parishioners to hold hands and pray to pelor you can wring out enough of a casting bonus to do the job. (Also, HeroWars has extensive rules for this sort of thing, which I rather like.)



I'm probably an idiot, but how? in PF ranks are max'd at =level and in 3.5 ranks are max'd at =level+3
How can a level 10 character have 20 ranks in a skill?
I should stress I'm in no sense trying to compete with standard D&D classes, and the level-progression would be somewhat different here. Every character just gets a fixed number of total skill points and picks a particular class template during chargen.



Max. Skill Total Ranks Other
Level 1: 5 21 2 Bonus Feats, 2 Class Feats
10 starting points in attributes
Level 2: 7 27 (+6) +1 att
Level 3: 9 39 (+6) Bonus Feat
Level 4: 11 47 (+6) +1 att
Level 5: 13 54 (+6) Bonus Feat
Level 6: 15 60 (+6) +1 att
Level 7: 17 65 (+6) Bonus Feat
Level 8: 18 69 (+6) +1 att
Level 9: 19 72 (+6) Bonus Feat
Level X: 20 75 (+6) +1 att



Some hypothetical templates here. They have no binding effect on how the character evolves in subsequent play, they just give an idea of the kinds of backgrounds a PC would come from (and help avoid a certain amount of derping?)



Fighter:
Skills: At least 4 points in Close Combat, 1 or more in Marksmanship or Athletics
2 of: Carouser, Word of Honour, Weapon Style[X], Tactician

Rogue:
Skills: At least 3 points in Evasion and Perception
2 of: Sneak Attack, Night Owl, Larcenist, Parting Shot

Paladin:
Skills: At least 4 points in Close Combat, 1 or more in Faith in [X]
2 of: Lay Hands, Sense Evil, Word of Honour, Knighthood

Ranger:
Skills: At least 4 points in Marksmanship, 1 or more in Perception
2 of: Tracking, Survivalist, Animal Husbandry, Favoured Enemy

Priest:
Skills: At least 4 points in Faith in [X], 1 or more in Persuasion
2 of: Lay Hands, Voice from the Pulpit, Theology, Early Bird

Wizard:
Skills: At least 4 points in Arcana, 1 or more in Knowledge[X] or Crafting[Y]
2 of: Sphere of Mind, Sphere of Matter, Polymath, Appraisal

AtlasSniperman
2018-10-09, 08:46 AM
Yeah the background system you're bolting this into is sufficiently different from standard D20 systems to require relearning before it can be properly advised about. How much of the math have you done so far? How do you calculate other DC's, how does combat work? I don't expect(or want) these answers, but they're the sort of information that's needed before parsing and judging a system like this. Sorry to have bother you.

jqavins
2018-10-09, 12:50 PM
I'm a little confused, but I'll write some things that I hope are helpful anyway.

My first impression was that you've nerfed the hell out of casters. It's a common point that high level casters are overpowered, but also that very low level ones are underpowered. It looks to me like you've Nerf Blastered them across the board, which means overdoing it at high level and positively cutting the legs off low levels.

So I agreed with the stuff Pair'o'dice wrote, especially his point about the double failure chance of a skill roll for the spell to go off and then a saving throw. You're casting DCs need to come down a lot, and if you stick with this then save DCs should also go up a lot, and more spells (not all, but more) should get no save at all.

But then I read your second post. So the outrageous 20 + 10*level DC is for preparing spells, not casting? OK, then everybody takes 20 prepare spells and the main thing you've done is make the daily spell praparation take longer. Well, the main thing except for taking the top level spell away from many casters (leaving many first levels with only cantrips).

And with spontaneous casters you mentioned taking 10, but that makes the top spell level absolutely impossible an masterful min-maxing required even for one level below. Many spontaneous casters will be left unable to cast ahbouve two levels below what would otherwise be their max.


** WARNING **
** Spontaneous Casters Are Totally Useless! **
** Never Play Spontaneous Casters! **I like the general idea of skill-based casting. I liked GURPS casting, which is completely skill-based. (But it has it's flaws too.)

By all means, give it another try. As Pair'o'dice stated, you should try sample builds of well-built-but-not-super-optimized characters and see if those get you where you want to be. As Atlas stated, since you're deviating rather a lot from standard 3.P build mechanics, start with an "Original System" thread that describes these fundementals. If you're not sure how to work the math to get where you want to be, then focus your opening post on where you want to be instead of on flawed math that doesn't get there.

I'm sorry if this sounds too harsh. I don't want to mock or discourage, but I'm afraid this looks, to me, like a really poor attempt. I usually try to be frank, and sometimes that turns out harsh. Sorry.

PairO'Dice Lost
2018-10-09, 02:40 PM
...Hmm, I didn't explain this well, did I.

The implied strategy here is that Taking 20 for casting rolls is generally used for preparing spells in advance. You go off to somewhere secluded and meditate for a few hours, and since you have plenty of time to concentrate it's assumed you take the best possible result. (Spell points and material components are only consumed when casting is successful, so there's no general drawback to repeated attempts.) Then you can fire the spell off later as and when required.

If you want to cast a spell on-the-spot, you either need to Take 10 under relatively calm conditions, or roll dice if you're in distracting conditions (such as combat.) It's closer to having to roll Concentration checks, basically. So every caster, in principle, can be a mix of spontaneous and prepped casting, depending on how many spell points they hold in reserve, and with the understanding that spontaneous casting is chancier.

Yeah, that's definitely a very important point that you elided over. In that case, the very high DCs aren't quite so punitive, but the issue of assuming absolutely optimal modifiers still remains. Not just because of the "newbie player" issue mentioned before, but because the -10 from taking 10 instead of taking 20 means that if you can barely prepare a spell of level X you definitely can't spontaneously cast it reliably.

Again, things are much simpler if you just say "You can prepare spells of up to level N and spontaneously cast spells of up to level [N-2]" or the like.


Part of the reason why I'd like to generalise the rules on augmenting spellcasting is so that low-level characters can use them too- e.g, if your buddy rogue just got bit by a werewolf, the party's junior cleric might not be able to cast 'remove curse' by themselves, but maybe if you get them to the village chapel and ask the parishioners to hold hands and pray to pelor you can wring out enough of a casting bonus to do the job. (Also, HeroWars has extensive rules for this sort of thing, which I rather like.)

Now this is definitely a valid reason to want to have a hard-coded ritual casting system, and one that's nicely thematic, too. But this system doesn't actually have to be part of the core casting mechanic. You can have relatively standard "prepare some spells, spontaneously cast some spells, roll a casting check with reasonably high success rates" base casting mechanic, and then add this in as a Ceremonial Casting (for divine casters)/Ritual Casting (for arcane casters) subsystem.

You can then require a hard skill check to cast above your level that would normally be impossible without those modifiers, so that spells they should be able to cast regularly are highly reliable while those once-in-a-blue-moon spells have some risk. Not only that, but by explicitly separating them out mechanically you draw more of a distinction between routine adventuring magic and special ritual magic, where with your current proposal it's all the same thing but with a bunch of big bonuses being thrown around.

jqavins
2018-10-09, 03:22 PM
You can then require a hard skill check to cast above your level that would normally be impossible without those modifiers, so that spells they should be able to cast regularly are highly reliable while those once-in-a-blue-moon spells have some risk.Or, as an alternative, give some few particular spells a higher casting DC than most. That, along with numbers worked out appropriately, would give you a situation where normal spells of one's top available level can be cast with a high rate of success, and for spells below the top accessible level success approaches certainty, while for a few hard spells at one's top level, solo casting is impossible or nearly so, but those too become feasible as one's level advances.

At the risk of harping too much on this point, what you have to do is think carefully through what you want to achieve, then come up with the formulae and numbers, or ask for help therewith. If what I wrote in the paragraph above sounds like what you want, then go from there with the numbers. If PairO'Dice's "casting above your level" is what you want then you (or we) can create the numbers for that. Or PairO's previously suggested "V, S, DF, M, Ritual" spells. Or whatever.

Lacuna Caster
2018-10-10, 05:51 AM
Yeah the background system you're bolting this into is sufficiently different from standard D20 systems to require relearning before it can be properly advised about. How much of the math have you done so far? How do you calculate other DC's, how does combat work? I don't expect(or want) these answers, but they're the sort of information that's needed before parsing and judging a system like this. Sorry to have bother you.
No, not at all. I have a rough outline for the combat system and might write it up at some point, but haven't sunk a lot of thought into tracking, stealth, crafting DCs, et cetera.


My first impression was that you've nerfed the hell out of casters. It's a common point that high level casters are overpowered, but also that very low level ones are underpowered. It looks to me like you've Nerf Blastered them across the board, which means overdoing it at high level and positively cutting the legs off low levels.

...But then I read your second post. So the outrageous 20 + 10*level DC is for preparing spells, not casting? OK, then everybody takes 20 prepare spells and the main thing you've done is make the daily spell praparation take longer. Well, the main thing except for taking the top level spell away from many casters (leaving many first levels with only cantrips).
It's very possible that the balance is off vs. full-fighter-types, but hopefully I can tweak that easily enough by adjusting the spell-point formula. (e.g, SP = Arcana bonus would give around 10 SP at level 1 and 30 SP at level 10, assuming max ranks.)

I would stress again, however, that there are no dedicated caster classes here: Wizard is as wizard does. In other words, if you haven't optimised a character to squeeze out every last point of casting bonuses to Arcana, then they are not a pure wizard. Maybe they look 'part bard' or 'part aristocrat', or something else based on the skills & feats they invested in- and if the relative utility of those other skills/feats is similar-ish, then that's fine- it roughly balances either way.


And with spontaneous casters you mentioned taking 10, but that makes the top spell level absolutely impossible...
There are no 'spontaneous casters'. There aren't even 'casters' per se as a separate category, just characters who invest in the Arcana skill. I would imagine them usually prepping spells in advance, which is easier/more reliable, but they also have the option of casting spontaneously. Some might invest in feats which make that easier. Some might invest in feats that make prepping easier, or maybe reduce spell-point costs, etc. etc. Or maybe they dump points in weapon skills and play a Gish. That's up to the player.


...I'm sorry if this sounds too harsh. I don't want to mock or discourage, but I'm afraid this looks, to me, like a really poor attempt. I usually try to be frank, and sometimes that turns out harsh. Sorry.
No, not a problem. I'm sure there are plenty of rough edges and tweaks to make, I just want to make sure that they're not based on external baggage.


Again, things are much simpler if you just say "You can prepare spells of up to level N and spontaneously cast spells of up to level [N-2]" or the like.
Yeah, I suppose I could phrase it that way, and maybe provide a helpful table of some kind. I just think if you have to explain the general skill system and take-10/20 options to players anyway, why not leverage that? Aside from having spell points in some form, why should there be a separate core system just for spellcasting?

jqavins
2018-10-10, 07:20 AM
The first half of this sentence
I should stress I'm in no sense trying to compete with standard D&D classes...is directly at odds with the rest of the paragraph
and the level-progression would be somewhat different here. Every character just gets a fixed number of total skill points and picks a particular class template during chargen.


Max. Skill Total Ranks Other
Level 1: 5 21 2 Bonus Feats, 2 Class Feats
10 starting points in attributes
Level 2: 7 27 (+6) +1 att
Level 3: 9 39 (+6) Bonus Feat
Level 4: 11 47 (+6) +1 att
Level 5: 13 54 (+6) Bonus Feat
Level 6: 15 60 (+6) +1 att
Level 7: 17 65 (+6) Bonus Feat
Level 8: 18 69 (+6) +1 att
Level 9: 19 72 (+6) Bonus Feat
Level X: 20 75 (+6) +1 att
The level progression is different, the max skill by level is different, the use of "Total Ranks" rather than skill points is different (because of cross-class skills) the increase of ranks with level advancement is different, and there are no caster classes. The system is still classed, I think, except for a magic system that belongs in a classless system. How is this not competing with standard D&D classes?


There are no 'spontaneous casters'. There aren't even 'casters' per se as a separate category, just characters who invest in the Arcana skill. I would imagine them usually prepping spells in advance, which is easier/more reliable, but they also have the option of casting spontaneously. Some might invest in feats which make that easier. Some might invest in feats that make prepping easier, or maybe reduce spell-point costs, etc. etc. Or maybe they dump points in weapon skills and play a Gish. That's up to the player.This sounds like you want a classless system, but you've gone half way there by only making casting classless. Is that about the size of it? If so, it also eliminates half-caster classes like paladin and ranger so, again, it certainly is competing with standard D&D classes. Unless I'm still totally missing the point.

Lacuna Caster
2018-10-10, 07:41 AM
This sounds like you want a classless system, but you've gone half way there by only making casting classless.
I'm probably just explaining myself badly again, but yes- the idea is that this would be an entirely classless system. You don't have paladins and rangers as permanently distinct categories, just folks who mostly dump skill points in Marksmanship or Close Combat, with some Faith in [X] on the side.

But no, it's not competing with standard D&D classes, because you wouldn't have any, per se. They can't be in competition if they're absent. :P

jqavins
2018-10-10, 08:22 AM
Then I come back to what both Atlas Sniperman and I have said earlier: what you've got here is an original game system rather than a casting tweek. To ask for comments on the magic system before posting the full system's basics is putting the cart before the horse.

A classless system that uses some (or even a lot) of D&D building blocks is a fine idea. (It's probably been done before; search for such threads here in the Playground.)

Paleomancer
2018-10-11, 09:57 PM
Another consideration is that tying all magic to a skill choice is essentially a skill point tax, as otherwise under this system one cannot use magic at all. Even Rogues, who usually depend on maximizing certain skills, have the majority of their class features independent of skill choice (save for trapfinding, I think). Given most casters have a measly base of 2 skill points per level, possibly 1 with a negative Intelligence score, this limits roleplay and mechanics significantly, to say nothing of other skills: Concentration is still vital and so might be Spellcraft (unless you grandfather their roles into your new skills), to say nothing of other skills.

That being said, this is an intriguing concept that I do like and think is promising (and Id love to try out a functional skill-based magic spot). Some ideas to consider:

Having multiple skills used to perform different schools of magic - Divination, Summoning, Alchemy, Invocation...
Tying magic use to skill use as per Tome of Battle.
What about cross-class users like fighters or rogues? Could they learn and wield more basic effects this way? Or participate in rituals? Possibly have a Scholar/Mage class who has an edge in using these skills.
Allowing the skill to reduce or eliminate spell point costs/spell slots on really good successes; cantrips eventually are free (and weak) spells, and on success, more powerful spells are cast efficiently.
What about Charisma-based casters? Sorcerers and Bards may not have optimal intelligence scores, so do they use a third skill - Channeling (for lack of a better score).
Combining certain skills (like Concentration, Use Magic Device, and Spellcraft) into the appropriate skill (Arcana or Faith) to avoid casters having to maximize skill use and ending up even more cookiecutter-ish. In this case, one might even argue that completing spell trigger items requires a Use Magic Device-equivalent check rather than being nearly automatic.


Others might exist.

jqavins
2018-10-12, 07:58 AM
The skill point issue is not one really, as the modified system gives all classes and characters the same number of skill points, without an Int mod. The need to optimize multiple skills (Arcana, Spellcraft, and Concentration) simultaneously, now that's an issue.

Lacuna Caster
2018-10-12, 09:06 AM
Having multiple skills used to perform different schools of magic - Divination, Summoning, Alchemy, Invocation...
Tying magic use to skill use as per Tome of Battle.
What about cross-class users like fighters or rogues? Could they learn and wield more basic effects this way? Or participate in rituals? Possibly have a Scholar/Mage class who has an edge in using these skills.
Allowing the skill to reduce or eliminate spell point costs/spell slots on really good successes; cantrips eventually are free (and weak) spells, and on success, more powerful spells are cast efficiently.
What about Charisma-based casters? Sorcerers and Bards may not have optimal intelligence scores, so do they use a third skill - Channeling (for lack of a better score).
Combining certain skills (like Concentration, Use Magic Device, and Spellcraft) into the appropriate skill (Arcana or Faith) to avoid casters having to maximize skill use and ending up even more cookiecutter-ish. In this case, one might even argue that completing spell trigger items requires a Use Magic Device-equivalent check rather than being nearly automatic.

The last one, most likely: Arcana would certainly replace UMD/Spellcraft, and possibly Concentration. I like a lot of those ideas.

At the moment, the basic idea is that Sorcery is a feat-chain that you have to start taking during chargen- it's a natural talent, maybe with cha-based pre-reqs, but casting is broadly still Int-based. Not sure how to handle Bards. I will try to get back with some more concrete build-examples and details on, say the combat system, but probably not this weekend.

Paleomancer
2018-10-12, 12:35 PM
The last one, most likely: Arcana would certainly replace UMD/Spellcraft, and possibly Concentration. I like a lot of those ideas.

At the moment, the basic idea is that Sorcery is a feat-chain that you have to start taking during chargen- it's a natural talent, maybe with cha-based pre-reqs, but casting is broadly still Int-based. Not sure how to handle Bards. I will try to get back with some more concrete build-examples and details on, say the combat system, but probably not this weekend.
If that is the case, and you still want to consider divine magic its own thing, consider having Faith (or for extra versimilitude, Thaumaturgy - literally means miracle working :smallbiggrin:) cover similar rules for divine spellcasters (Concentration, Use Magic Device, Spellcraft, all restricted to divine spells only, just as Arcana only applies to Arcane spells). Look forward to seeing more :smallsmile:.

Lacuna Caster
2018-10-16, 02:20 PM
Okay, time for some number-crunching.

Character-generation begins with selecting a class template and starting at a particular character level, which gives you a certain number of total skill points and a certain number of feats. Couple of notes:

* I'm not making a distinction between attributes and bonuses. i.e, Str 5 here == Str 20 in regular D&D.
* Dexterity is renamed 'Reflexes' to cover perception-checks, rather than being based off Wisdom.
* Strength is merged with Con. All combat skills are reflex-based, but Strength factors into prereqs for a variety of feats and weapons.
* 'Standing' is a base attribute to represent social status, a la Resources/Circles in Burning Wheel.
* No distinct saving throws, which I recall 4e/5e did away with anyway- you just use attributes.



Core attributes:
Strength
Reflexes
Intellect
Wisdom
Charisma
Standing

Core skills:
Close Combat [Ref]
Marksmanship [Ref]
Perception [Ref]
Evasion [Ref]
Athletics [Str]

Faith in [X] [Wil]
Truth Sense [Wil]
Command [Cha]
Persuasion [Cha]

Arcana [Int]
Knowledge [X] [Int]
Crafting [X] [Int]

Standing may start at 0, all other attributes must be between 1 and 5.
Attribute checks gain character level as a free bonus.

Hit Points = 10 + Level + (Strength x 2). Can be boosted further with feats.
Characters are stricken at 0 HP, lose consciousness at -5, and die at -10.




Max. Skill Total Ranks Other
Level 1: 6 15 2 Bonus Feats, 2 Class Feats
15 points in attributes
Level 2: 8 20 (+5) +1 att
Level 3: 10 25 (+5) Bonus Feat
Level 4: 12 30 (+5) +1 att
Level 5: 14 35 (+5) Bonus Feat
Level 6: 16 40 (+5) +1 att
Level 7: 17 45 (+5) Bonus Feat
Level 8: 18 50 (+5) +1 att
Level 9: 19 55 (+5) Bonus Feat
Level X: 20 60 (+5) +1 att


(I've tweaked the skill points progression with character levels, but it doesn't matter much for this example.) So, referring to some of the options in the OP... our hypothetical newbie PC might look like the following:


Achmed the Generic
Background: Wizard
Attributes:
Strength 1
Reflexes 3
Intellect 5
Wisdom 2
Charisma 2
Standing 2
Skills:
Arcana 6
Perception 3
Knowledge [History] 2
Craft [Alchemy] 4
Feats:
Sphere of Matter
School Focus [Abjuration]
Appraisal
Eccentric Interests
Gear:
Arcane Staff +2
Talisman of Recall
Astrolabe
Sulphur (uses x3)
35 GP
Other Stats:
Hit Points: 13
Spell Points: 11
Income: 24 GP/month
.

Achmed has a baseline Arcana bonus of +11 from skill ranks and attributes, +2 for Evocation/Transmutation/Abjuration from Sphere of Matter, and +3 for Abjuration from School Focus. His Arcane Staff grants a further +2 bonus, and Sulphur can be expended as a +5 casting bonus for Evocation[Fire] spells.

So when he's prepping an Abjuration, Achmed has a +18 casting bonus, which is nearly enough to cast level 2 spells if he Takes 20, and more than sufficient if he takes x200 the normal casting time or has access to the facilities of a small studio. In fact, any second-level spell from the schools of Evocation, Transmutation or Abjuration should be accessible that way. He can also, in principle, prepare any second-level Evocation[Fire] spell by spending a dose of Sulphur.

He can cast any level-0 spell/cantrip spontaneously as long as he's in conditions calm enough to Take 10, and he has roughly a 25% chance to cast 1st-level Evo/Trans spells spontaneously in combat- or 40% for Abjurations.

I still don't have the combat system worked out fully, but I'd imagine it being fairly reminiscent of standard d20 hack'n'slash in the essentials- you just use Close Combat or Marksmanship instead of BAB/proficiency, rolling versus your opponent's passive Defence/AC by default, and roll for damage if you hit. HP progression is relatively anaemic, so I'd probably beef up some of the PCs' defensive options, and maybe add in some rock/paper/scissor maneuver contests a la Tome of Battle or Burning Wheel. But maybe it needs tweaking?

Anyway, I hope that clears up some of the confusion. I'll probably have a combat outline at some point this week.
.

Lacuna Caster
2018-10-20, 06:40 PM
So, Imma steal BW's scripted combat system shamelessly and try to stuff it into D&D's turn-based grid-positioning system with a plunger.

Basic combat options are as described above (make a Close Combat or Marksmanship check vs. an opponent's Defence.) However, each time you take the Combat Expertise feat, you can pick 2 new techniques for use that tweak the formula. (Note that if either Defence/AC or a defensive skill test applies, the defender takes the better result. Defence by default is 10 + Reflexes + armour bonus.)


Parry Stance: Roll Close Combat to defend against your opponent's attack with a +2 bonus. Even if your opponent succeeds, they cannot inflict more damage than their margin of success. You may attempt to deflect missile attacks as well, but at a -8 penalty.

Block Stance: Roll Close Combat vs. opponent's attack roll with a +6 bonus. If you succeed, you do not thwart the attack, but add 2 + Strength to damage reduction up to your margin of success.

Evade Stance: Roll either Close Combat or Evasion vs. your opponent's attack with a +1 bonus for every 5 feet of movement you have remaining. You must have room to move and not be immobilised.

Power Strike: Add up to your Strength bonus to damage at a similar penalty to your Close Combat test. If you smash through a Block or Parry, you have a 50% chance to destroy their weapon or shield.

Fencing Strike: Gain +3 to your Close Combat attack at a 1d4 damage penalty. If you managed to Parry or Block last turn, you may strike at the same opponent and suffer no damage penalty.

Feint Strike: Gain a +5 test bonus and +2 damage vs. Parry or Block stance, but create an Opening otherwise. Optionally, test Persuasion vs. Truth Sense for another +/- 3 modifier.

Etc., etc.


This is pretty melee focused and one can draw up a half-dozen more without much effort, but the gist is this: Stances are defensive postures that you use an action to ready and select in secret, which activate in response to enemy action. Direct strikes apply, well, directly during your turn, and for optimal performance you need to anticipate an opponent's stance and counter it appropriately.

Since BW's combat system is a little overwhelming for beginners, I'm hoping that parcelling it out in feat-based chunks will let players ease in gradually, and there's the usual gravy of specific weapon/armour proficiencies, plus passive bonuses like Mounted Combat, Sneak Attack or Parting Shot.

Oh, some sample weapons/armour, for the curious:


Swords & Daggers:
Dagger:
1d4 damage. +4 to hit during Grapple, -2 otherwise.
Edged or Piercing, as preferred.
Shortsword:
1d6 damage. +2 to hit during Grapple, +2 to Disarm and Fencing.
Need Str 2+. Edged or Piercing, as preferred.
Broadsword:
1d8 damage. +2 to Parry and Disarm.
Need Str 3+. Edged.
Greatsword:
1d12 damage. +2 to Cleave and Executioner.
-3 to hit during Grapple.
Need Str 4+, two-handed grip. Edged, ignore 1 armour.



Other Melee Weapons:
Spear:
1d6 damage. +2 to Parry and Opportunist.
+4 vs. Charge, -4 to hit during Grapple.
Throw at -3 penalty for 1d10 damage, ignore 1 armour.
Need Str 2+. Piercing.
Axe:
1d8 damage. +2 to Cleave and Power Strike, -2 to Parry.
Need Str 2+. Edged.
Staff:
1d6 damage. +2 to Parry, Opportunist and Low Blow.
Need Str 2+, two-handed grip. Blunt, ignore 1 DR.
Mace or Poleaxe:
1d8 damage. +2 to Power Strike, -2 to Parry.
Need Str 3+. Blunt, ignore 1 DR.
Morningstar or Flail:
1d10 damage. -2 to hit, cannot use to Block or Parry.
Need Str 3+. Blunt, ignores Shields, ignore 1 DR.



Armour Types:
Leather:
DR 1. Defence +2.
Encumbrance +5%.
Scale or Chain:
DR 2. Defence +4.
Need Str 2+. Encumbrance +10%.
Bracers & Greaves:
Defence +2. Cannot combine with Full Plate.
Encumbrance +5%.
Full Plate:
Need Shield & Plate feat.
DR 1, or 3 vs. Edged & Piercing damage. Defence +6.
Need Str 3+. Encumbrance +25%.
Open Helm:
+2 vs. Executioner and Sneak Attack. Defence +1.
Full Helm:
DR +1, -2 to Perception. Defence +2.
Encumbrance +5%.

Lacuna Caster
2018-10-27, 07:33 PM
So- returning to the original topic, let's try another caster example-



Agnes the Regular
Background: Paladin

Alignment & Experience:
Vow of Chastity +1
Vow of Fealty +3
Vow of Mercy +1
Law/Chaos +3, Good/Evil +1
Level 1, 4 XP

Attributes:
Strength 3
Reflexes 4
Intellect 3
Wisdom 3
Charisma 2
Standing 1
Skills:
Close Combat 4
Faith in [God] 6
Athletics 2
Command 2
Knowledge [Latin] 1
Feats:
Sense Evil
Lay Hands
Weapon Expertise [Sword, Spear]
Shield & Plate

Domain Spells:
Close Wounds
Purge Affliction
Commandment
Mark of Justice
Exorcism
Discern Lies
Gear:
Two-Handed Sword +2, Javelins x4
Full Plate & Cloak
Crucifix & Prayer Beads, Latin Bible
Rations x5, 10 GP
Other Stats:
Hit Points: 18
Spell Points: 14
Income: 4 GP/month



So here, if Agnes wants to cast a level 1 Commandment spell to cow the unrighteous, she adds her Wisdom +3 to 6 ranks in Faith, along with a +5 bonus for her Vows, for a total divine casting bonus of +14. Given adequate casting time to pray for this blessing, she can do this without particular trouble. If Agnes spends an action to fish out and brandish her crucifix first, she gets a +5 spontaneous casting bonus (this does not apply if she Takes 10 or Takes 20.)

The Lay Hands feat provides a +3 bonus for any divine spells cast at touch range and ensures they do not create an Opening, so her casting bonus for a level 0 Close Wounds orison, converting 1d4 damage to fatigue and providing a +2 bonus to Craft[Healing], is +17 vs. a casting DC of 20. She can do this easily if she has the chance to take 10, and has an 85% chance to cast spontaneously in battle.

Sense Evil provides a bonus to Divination spells and defensive skill tests matching 2x an opponent's Eeeevilness, so a +5 Evil target would grant her a +10 bonus to casting Discern Lies. The feat also allows corresponding at-will Detect spells.

Agnes advances her Vows by adhering to them under conditions where it entails clear risk, cost or complication, up to +5 (some guidelines for handling this may be specified per vow.) Similar mechanics apply for advancing Good/Evil and Law/Chaos, if the players care to track such things independently of a given God's favour.

Gross violations of a particular Vow sufficient to incur her patron's displeasure may, at the GM's discretion, knock the Vow's rating down by 1 and apply a -5 cumulative casting penalty until suitable atonement is performed. If all Vows taken are in breach, she cannot cast divine spells at all.


Or, for another example:


Bjorn the Illustrative
Background: Fighter, Level 1

Attributes:
Strength 5
Reflexes 3
Intellect 1
Wisdom 1
Charisma 3
Standing 2
Skills:
Close Combat 5
Athletics 2
Command 2
Persuasion 3
Faith in [Heimdall] 2
Knowledge [Mythology] 1
Feats:
Bardic Arts
Combat Expertise [Press, Feint]
Carouser
Word of Honour

Beliefs & Alignment:
Vow of Bravery +2
Vow of Honour +1
Oathkeeper's Vow +1
Law/Chaos +2, Good/Evil -1

Domain Spells:
Ballad of Courage
Epic of Lore
Hymn of Devotion
Song of Love
Bless Weapon
Shield of Faith
Gear:
Broadsword +1
Steel Gauntlet
Scale Mail & Full Helm
Horn of Battle
Flagon of Mead (uses x2)
5 GP
Other Stats:
Hit Points: 22
Spell Points: 7
Income: 8 GP/month



Bjorn can use his Bardic Arts feat to prepare spells without access to a spellbook or holy text, while using his Persuasion or Command skill to weave Song-spells to, e.g, bolster morale or court romantic partners, provided he has time to perform without undue distractions. (Carouser grants an effective +5 bonus to social skills while he and others subjects are drunk, so that's usually a good opportunity.)

His direct divine casting bonus is fairly modest, with just 2 ranks in Faith and Wisdom +1, but a +4 bonus from his Vows helps. And with +3 Persuasion, +3 Charisma and a +5 bonus from Bardic Arts, he has an 80% chance of correctly intoning a DC 15 Hymn of Devotion for a one-off +10 prayer bonus, allowing him to access first-level divine spells with some regularity.

A modest degree of group prayer from his amiable fellows for a further +5 bonus can even allow prepping a second-level spell. (+7 for ranks, wis and vows, +10 for song bonus, +5 for group prayer by 10 people, total +22. By taking 20 he can meet the DC of 40 for a 2nd-level spell.)



EDIT: I think that covers the basics for everything aside from Monks and a Sorcerer example(?), and maybe some specific rules for negotiating Pacts with an evil/demonic patron.
.

johnbragg
2018-10-27, 08:37 PM
Part of the reason why I'd like to generalise the rules on augmenting spellcasting is so that low-level characters can use them too- e.g, if your buddy rogue just got bit by a werewolf, the party's junior cleric might not be able to cast 'remove curse' by themselves, but maybe if you get them to the village chapel and ask the parishioners to hold hands and pray to pelor you can wring out enough of a casting bonus to do the job. (Also, HeroWars has extensive rules for this sort of thing, which I rather like.)


I know I was working on something like this, but I don't know if I ever finished it. I'll check my posting history to see what I had up that alley.

I was definitely working on a mechanic where the chanting cultists actually had a game effect.

EDIT: I apparently didn't finish that. But I have something for you. You can cast whatever spell you like by passing a Spellcraft check. But if you're doing it on an amateur basis (not using your class abilities, spell slots, etc) then you take backlash--d6 Constitution damage per spell level. (3.5 is assumed here--the ability damage is not permanent) Where the chanting cultists come in is you form a coven, or an anima pool, or a magic circle or whatever you'd like to call it. Everyone who joins the pool takes an equal share of the backlash damage. (Exactly like the end of Guardians of the Galaxy.)

So you can have everybody clap Tinkerbell back to life, which is sweet and adorable and everything--but when it works, the kids feel like they've been run over by a truck.

Lacuna Caster
2018-10-28, 06:17 AM
I was definitely working on a mechanic where the chanting cultists actually had a game effect...

...So you can have everybody clap Tinkerbell back to life, which is sweet and adorable and everything--but when it works, the kids feel like they've been run over by a truck.
I *did* have an outline for Sorcery feats and Necromancy rules that would exact a cost in terms of exhaustion/injury, but those were more intended for an individual caster than the group as a whole. In the case of group prayer, I'd imagined that anyone participating is a genuine and semi-regular worshipper of the deity/pantheon being petitioned, even if they're not ordained as clergy, so it wouldn't typically be the case that a party of random misfits can hold hands and pray to Pelor.

It might be interesting to add some feats or rule options that merge the two effects, but bear in mind that the rules for Sacrifice allow for offerings of blood, and they don't all have to come from one source- if you and a bunch of buddies are all willing to slit their veins above the altar, Wee Jas is happy to accept that currency.


Ah, actually, that gives me an idea for how Monks should work: In essence, they're clerics without a God, focused on cultivating the divine essence within themselves. They can't harness either group prayer or sacrifice mechanics, but they do get some nifty benefits (Purity of X, etc.) based on progression with respect to the Vows they take, and can never be stripped of their powers. Capstone allows them to reincarnate at will, travel the planes, et cetera et cetera.

noob
2018-10-28, 07:28 AM
I *did* have an outline for Sorcery feats and Necromancy rules that would exact a cost in terms of exhaustion/injury, but those were more intended for an individual caster than the group as a whole. In the case of group prayer, I'd imagined that anyone participating is a genuine and semi-regular worshipper of the deity/pantheon being petitioned, even if they're not ordained as clergy, so it wouldn't typically be the case that a party of random misfits can hold hands and pray to Pelor.

It might be interesting to add some feats or rule options that merge the two effects, but bear in mind that the rules for Sacrifice allow for offerings of blood, and they don't all have to come from one source- if you and a bunch of buddies are all willing to slit their veins above the altar, Wee Jas is happy to accept that currency.


Ah, actually, that gives me an idea for how Monks should work: In essence, they're clerics without a God, focused on cultivating the divine essence within themselves. They can't harness either group prayer or sacrifice mechanics, but they do get some nifty benefits (Purity of X, etc.) based on progression with respect to the Vows they take, and can never be stripped of their powers. Capstone allows them to reincarnate at will, travel the planes, et cetera et cetera.

That description of the dnd monk is weird because now it overlaps with godless clerics which are a thing too.
Also it does not fits with real life usual monk description(always people with a religion and very often with a god)

Lacuna Caster
2018-10-28, 08:13 AM
That description of the dnd monk is weird because now it overlaps with godless clerics which are a thing too.
Also it does not fits with real life usual monk description(always people with a religion and very often with a god)
I don't disagree, exactly, but... the problem I see with the D&D monk at the moment is that it's... a mess, thematically speaking. If they worship a God or are otherwise religious figures like real-world monks, then they should be getting divine spells like clerics and paladins. If they're just martial artists specialising in unarmed combat, they should be a type of fighter, and I don't recall those ever get access to Chi abilities, which looks very similar to positive energy regardless. And then you've got the whole problem with east/west flavour dissonance.

So basically, what I'm aiming for here is to specifically capture the east-asian/vedic buddhist tradition. You might acknowledge and even revere specific Gods as powerful and virtuous beings (most east-asian religious practice is highly syncretic), but the buddhist perspective is that Gods are in the same boat with lesser mortals as prisoners of the cycle of death and rebirth. Their ultimate aim is to escape from the meatgrinder of history entirely... and maybe come back to help others get out.

Point being that the different components of the D&D monk would be handled by distinct skills and feat-chains that don't need to be lumped together in one package. The unarmed combat & dodge-perks are just part of regular combat feats. The spooky supernatural abilities are mostly just regular divine magic. The 'religion without a God' part is what gets a few special rules specific to either Monks or Animism (forgot about Druids.)

General rules for religious syncretism (e.g, pantheon worship, or combining polytheism with animism or ancestor-worship) are something I still need to address, but that's the broad idea.

Lacuna Caster
2018-11-01, 07:32 PM
One more example for completeness' sake:



Parvati the Atypical
Background: Priest

Attributes:
Strength 2
Reflexes 2
Intellect 3
Wisdom 4
Charisma 4
Standing 0
Skills:
Faith in [Shakti] 3
Arcana 4
Persuasion 3
Truth Sense 5
Feats:
Sorcerous Blood [Nephilim]
School Focus [Enchantment]
Voice of the Pulpit
Theology [Shakti]

Alignment & Experience:
Vow of Peace +2
Vow of Poverty +3
Enemy: Caste System
Law/Chaos: -2, Good/Evil +3
Level 1, 7 XP

Known Spells:
Close Wounds
Libation
Word of Peace
Alter Mood
Holding
Slumber
Detection
Foresight
Seeming
Gear:
Robes & Begging Bowl
Chakra Wheel
Other Stats:
Hit Points: 15
Spell Points: 11
Income: 0 GP/month



Parvati has a baseline 4 + 3 in Faith, and 3 + 4 in Arcana. Her Vows give her a +5 bonus to faith-casting, allowing her to access 1st-level divine spells, and with her school focus +3, she can access 1st-level enchantments. Fairly straightforward.

Her Sorcerous Blood allows her to apply the Exhausting Spell option, granting a +10 bonus at the cost of 5 extra spell points and 25 fatigue (which rolls over to 15 fatigue and 10 injury, knocking her out cold.) But it'll allow access to 2nd-level- or, if she follows the usual arcane prep rules and takes x2000 the usual casting time- even a 3rd-level arcane enchantment. (A 1-minute default casting time seems fair, with Quickened Spell allowing for 1-round results, so x2000 works out to about 32 hours, or 4 days allowing for rest & sleep.)

I'm inclining to the view that arcane and divine spell points should be tracked separately, but I'm not sure I like the extra bookkeeping. It might also be nice if Nephilim could apply sorcery feats toward divine spells or otherwise get some synergy between the two, but I might be getting ahead of myself...

So, while I'm cribbing from burning wheel, some provisional rules for social conflicts:

All parties involved in the debate sort into teams and nominate a spokesperson. (Teams of 1 are also fine.) By default, each round, each spokesperson selects an action in secret, then reveals their actions and rolls Persuasion vs. Persuasion.



Body of Argument = 10 + character level + Cha bonus.

Point
Make a direct statement or argument in favour of your position.
vs. Lead, roll vs. DC of 0. Half margin damages BoA.
vs. Rebuttal, roll vs. opponent. Half margin damages BoA.
Otherwise, roll vs. DC of 10. Half margin damages BoA.

Rebuttal
Counter an opponent's argument with your own.
vs. Point, roll vs. opponent. Margin restores your BoA.
vs. Lead, you may not test.
Otherwise, roll vs. DC of 10. Half Margin restores your BoA.

Lead
Expose a weakness with a leading question or implication or two.
vs. Rebuttal, roll vs. DC of 0. Half margin damages BoA.
vs. Point, you may not test.
Otherwise, roll vs. DC of 10. Half margin damages BoA.

Digression
Bring in extraneous information to make an indirect point or distraction.
Roll vs. opponent. Spend margin on effects-
5 points: Add +3 to next roll of self or an ally.
5 points: Add 1 to your own BoA, apply -2 penalty to opponent's next roll.
10 points: Your opponent is engrossed and takes no action next turn.

Supporting Argument
You agree with or back up a colleague's argument.
Roll vs. DC of 10.
Add 1/4 margin of success to ally's next argument.



Body of Argument Modifiers
Terms offered are very good: +10
Terms offered are good: +5
Terms offered are mean: -5
Terms offered are very mean: -10
Subject is a soulmate: +10
Subject is a steady ally: +5
Subject is friendly: +2
Subject is unfriendly: -2
Subject is a known enemy: -5
Subject is a nemesis: -10

Other Modifiers
Fresh Evidence: +4 to single roll.
Repetition: -4 penalty (cumulative).
Deceit: May roll vs. Truth Sense to lie, lose action otherwise.
Threats/Insult: Add +5 to roll, -2 to BoA and next roll.

Giegue
2018-11-05, 09:37 AM
I once made something similar to what your doing, or rather had an idea for it, so I appreciate what your doing. However, from what little I have seen Charisma is a auto-dump for basically every single character in your system I apologize in advance if this is not the case; I don't have all the information and there could be something I don't know about that makes Charisma a pretty sweet score to have. However, without charisma-based spellcasting, it just seems to me that Charisma will be dumped by basically everybody because what the other stats give you are far, far, far, far more valuable than anything Cha can. Dex helps you go first in combat, lets you used ranged weapons, and helps you not die by boosting your AC and Ref saves. Str unlocks better melee weapons and lets you carry more loot. Con really helps you not die. Int gives you more skill points, and governs arcane casting. Wis helps you not die by boosting Will saves and Perception, and governs divine casting. Cha gives you...a bonus to some skills that you might not even use if your doing a hardcore dungeon crawl with little-no negotiation and downtime. Simply put, Cha is a stat thats utterly useless compared to the others under this system in all but niche'/narrow cases and specific kinds of games, which I feel is a bad thing. As it stands, pretty much every character will want to dump that cha right into the ground, as they will largely feel no ill-effects for doing so, meaning that dumping cha ammounts to free Str, Dex, Con, Int, or Wis. This is not good desgin, but thankfully there are two really simple things that could be done to fix this.

A) Make Will saves run off Cha. Wisdom is already a pretty stacked ability score, between governing divine casting and the god skill that is perception, so moving will saves to being based on Cha would throw Cha a bone it sorely needs while not really changing the system in a big way, and it makes sense from a themeatic standpoint for Cha to be the stat to resist mind control.

OR

B) I noticed that druidic casting seems to be missing from your game. While I assume its just a subset of divine magic, there are a lot of druid fans that may not like that. Even further, I think in terms of lore that Drudic magic is distinct enough from cleric magic that it being a third skill would not be strange. I personally think that having three magic skills, each based off one of the mental stats, helps to make Cha less useless in more combat-focused games. It would also make a nice trifecta of casting types, and match up to Pathfinder 2e's divison of Arcane, Divine and Primal magic. So what is this proposition? Make a third, wisdom-based casting skill for Druidic magic, and swap cleric magic to being a Charisma skill. From a lore standpoint, priestly magic being cha-based makes sense. Strength of belief always struck me as a Cha-thing rather than a Wis-thing, and if you go with "divine magic comes from strength of belief" as your excuse than Cha-based cleric casting totally works. Likewise, priests strike me as very likely to be charismatic individuals, who will give rousing sermons and lead the faithful, so this would make sense, at least to me.

Of course, I could be totally wrong, and maybe you do have a way to make Cha useful in combat that I don't know about. So I apologize if I offend you coming from the ignorant position I am, thats not my intent. However, this is just something that deeply worries me about what you have thus far, as I don't find that having one stat thats clearly worse than every other one in almost every way possible is bad design.

Lacuna Caster
2018-11-05, 02:51 PM
I once made something similar to what your doing, or rather had an idea for it, so I appreciate what your doing. However, from what little I have seen Charisma is a auto-dump for basically every single character in your system I apologize in advance if this is not the case; I don't have all the information and there could be something I don't know about that makes Charisma a pretty sweet score to have. However, without charisma-based spellcasting, it just seems to me that Charisma will be dumped by basically everybody because what the other stats give you are far, far, far, far more valuable than anything Cha can. Dex helps you go first in combat, lets you used ranged weapons, and helps you not die by boosting your AC and Ref saves. Str unlocks better melee weapons and lets you carry more loot. Con really helps you not die. Int gives you more skill points, and governs arcane casting. Wis helps you not die by boosting Will saves and Perception, and governs divine casting. Cha gives you...a bonus to some skills that you might not even use if your doing a hardcore dungeon crawl with little-no negotiation and downtime. Simply put, Cha is a stat thats utterly useless compared to the others under this system in all but niche'/narrow cases and specific kinds of games, which I feel is a bad thing. As it stands, pretty much every character will want to dump that cha right into the ground, as they will largely feel no ill-effects for doing so, meaning that dumping cha ammounts to free Str, Dex, Con, Int, or Wis. This is not good desgin, but thankfully there are two really simple things that could be done to fix this.

A) Make Will saves run off Cha. Wisdom is already a pretty stacked ability score, between governing divine casting and the god skill that is perception, so moving will saves to being based on Cha would throw Cha a bone it sorely needs while not really changing the system in a big way, and it makes sense from a themeatic standpoint for Cha to be the stat to resist mind control.

OR

B) I noticed that druidic casting seems to be missing from your game. While I assume its just a subset of divine magic, there are a lot of druid fans that may not like that. Even further, I think in terms of lore that Drudic magic is distinct enough from cleric magic that it being a third skill would not be strange. I personally think that having three magic skills, each based off one of the mental stats, helps to make Cha less useless in more combat-focused games. It would also make a nice trifecta of casting types, and match up to Pathfinder 2e's divison of Arcane, Divine and Primal magic. So what is this proposition? Make a third, wisdom-based casting skill for Druidic magic, and swap cleric magic to being a Charisma skill. From a lore standpoint, priestly magic being cha-based makes sense. Strength of belief always struck me as a Cha-thing rather than a Wis-thing, and if you go with "divine magic comes from strength of belief" as your excuse than Cha-based cleric casting totally works. Likewise, priests strike me as very likely to be charismatic individuals, who will give rousing sermons and lead the faithful, so this would make sense, at least to me.

Of course, I could be totally wrong, and maybe you do have a way to make Cha useful in combat that I don't know about. So I apologize if I offend you coming from the ignorant position I am, thats not my intent. However, this is just something that deeply worries me about what you have thus far, as I don't find that having one stat thats clearly worse than every other one in almost every way possible is bad design.

I think that's a valid analysis and a perfectly reasonable concern. I'm hoping that social conflicts of one form or another will be regular enough that it's a stat worth investing in, but my hopes in that area are mostly predicated on some assumptions about campaign structure and inter-PC conflicts that I haven't really articulated yet. (e.g, that stuffing PCs with radically different alignments into the same 'party' should expectably lead to significant in-character disagreements.)

Charisma should also factor into the following:
* Bardic arts & performances, which are essentially a type of low-cost/subtle magic.
* Most uses of Enchantment spells, since making requests seem reasonable makes them harder to resist.
* Exorcism and Planar-Ally spells, since you basically have to talk the subjects into coming or going.
* 'Social capital' during character creation, which allows you to create/nominate NPC allies.

(Minor errata: Con is merged with Str and there's no Int bonus for skill points, they're simply fixed by level. Perception is based off Reflexes, formerly known as Dex, while Truth Sense is based off Wisdom.)

For Druids in particular, I do have some rough notes for Animism as an alternative mode of worship- basically rooting their power in a particular 'sacred ground' or natural location where they are particularly strong, but leaving them weak if they stray too far from their favoured territory or preferred habitat, which might or might not be combined with the worship of a particular deity. There will probably be a 'school' of nature-themed divine spells available as well.

Other than that... I need to work out ancestor worship and syncretic polytheism, but that's the rough outline.

Lacuna Caster
2018-11-05, 07:13 PM
Okay, loose sketch of the mechanics here:

Animism/Druidism:

Players should select a preferred terrain type (jungle, desert, shallows, etc.), then select a sacred site within that terrain, which should be an eye-catching natural feature of the landscape.
If you are within a mile of your sacred site, you gain a +10 bonus to casting or preparing domain spells. For each mile you go outside it, but within the same terrain, the bonus drops by 1.
If you are outside of your favoured terrain entirely, you suffer a -5 casting and preparation penalty. If you are in a particularly barren or polluted landscape (which often includes large cities and dungeons), you suffer a -10 penalty.
Animists may typically avail of both Group Prayer and Sacrifice as normal, but only with worshippers of the same sacred site, and only at their sacred site. Their powers can never be entirely stripped, however.
Conjuration spells such as Planar Ally or Commune cannot contact Outsiders, but may be used to summon, speak with and bind animals, ancients and fae within your favoured landscape. Due to their attachment to the material plane, Animists are particularly likely to reincarnate on death.
Vows that relate to protecting sacred ground and preserving the natural landscape count toward your state of grace.


Syncretic Worship and Greater and Lesser Deities:

Less powerful patrons (such as heroic demigods and revered ancestors) are easier to contact with Commune spells and to bargain with for pacts (see below), but have corresponding limits on the spells they can grant. Each -1 reduction in maximum spell level (below 9) grants a +2 bonus to Communing with said patron.
Particularly powerful patrons (such as the primary focus of an extensive monotheist church or henotheist cult, or the head of a pantheon) grant a +3 bonus to all domain spellcasting, but impose a -5 penalty to unsolicited Commune spells.
A single character may apply their Faith toward multiple deities, but must devote at least one Vow toward each, and counts their bonuses for each deity separately when it comes to domain access and spell preparation. (If they adopt a new deity during play, Vows start off in a state of 'breach' and must be confirmed through 'atonement'.)
For gameplay purposes, Deities that compose a 'tight' pantheon may be treated as a single patron with their own Vows and Domain spells, though actual use of Commune spells (see below) may reveal multiple participants in any dialog.


Patronage, Commune and Pacts:

Patrons will generally allow Commune spells to query for information or perhaps bargain for services. At the GM's discretion, a dialog check or full social conflict scene may be run to agree on terms or solicit hidden secrets. Each spell level the patron can grant increases their Body of Argument by 2, in addition to the usual modifiers for subordinates speaking to superiors.
Certain patrons may allow Commune to establish a Pact, granting a bonus to other spellcasting in exchange for a particular ad-hoc service or desired condition. Each +5 bonus to subsequent casting correspondingly increases the patron's Body of Argument. Once agreed on, this Pact must be fulfilled in a timely manner or the caster's powers may be rescinded, in addition to any other stipulations the patron may have imposed.


I should have rules for Monastic worship over the next couple of days, but I like the idea of Monk-beliefs and Animism being opposite or at least complementary/symmetric: One is specifically focused on spiritual reverence for some aspect of the material/biological world with a high chance of rapid reincarnation on death, while the other is focused on spiritual detachment from the material/biological world with the hope of escaping reincarnation.

PairO'Dice Lost
2018-11-05, 10:07 PM
Animism/Druidism:

Players should select a preferred terrain type (jungle, desert, shallows, etc.), then select a sacred site within that terrain, which should be an eye-catching natural feature of the landscape.
If you are within a mile of your sacred site, you gain a +10 bonus to casting or preparing domain spells. For each mile you go outside it, but within the same terrain, the bonus drops by 1.


Characters tied to specific locations tend to make for bad adventuring characters, so instead of the character choosing one particular sacred site to be their "home base" I'd suggest that every terrain region have a particular natural feature that would serve as a sacred site, and that characters could have some ability to find or sense that location. So Joe Forest Druid might grow up in Kokiri Forest and use the Great Deku Tree as his sacred site, but if he travels to the Dire Wood he can sense the presence of the Grandfather Tree and use that as a sacred site.

Perhaps they could even sense sacred sites in other terrain regions, even if they can't make use of them; a desert druid would probably be able to sense the power in Stonehenge and an ocean druid be able to sense the power in Mount Doom even if (and especially if) their powers are opposed. That would fit more with the animistic side of things, where certain terrain features have powerful spirits and powerful magic, rather than a site being sacred merely because a druid circle chose it.

Lacuna Caster
2018-11-06, 03:52 PM
Characters tied to specific locations tend to make for bad adventuring characters, so instead of the character choosing one particular sacred site to be their "home base" I'd suggest that every terrain region have a particular natural feature that would serve as a sacred site, and that characters could have some ability to find or sense that location.
Yeah, that's probably fair. I think I'm leaning more toward the 'roots in the area' paradigm (https://www.scribd.com/document/168668516/Ron-Edwards-Setting-Dissection) for party generation- even the 5e DMG seems to suggest this by default- but being able to sense places of power in different countries does sound rather nifty.

My 'pick a terrain and pick a place' phrasing is mostly intended from a meta-perspective- it's not that one particular Druid or even a whole coven picked somewhere at random and made it sacred, it's that the player is either picking from a list of sites prepped by the GM or proactively inventing a little chunk of setting during chargen.

Lacuna Caster
2018-11-07, 01:10 PM
...And, finally, monk progression, based off the Meditation feat. The specifics of the Vows could probably be tailored for each monastic order, so these are merely stereo/typical examples- another might insist on self-flagellation, or the memorisation of difficult sutras, or total non-violence, et cetera. But a Monk must take 1 to 3 Vows, one each concerned with the Body, the Mind, and the Soul.



Vow of the Body:
No sexual congress. No alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. No meat, no luxuries, etc.
+1: +5 bonus to resist disease, poison & paralysis, natural healing doubled, +1 DR.
+3: Gain +2 DR, +2 regeneration per round, and +5 spell resistance.
+5: May enter suspended animation, immune to disease, poison, aging & paralysis.

Vow of the Mind:
At least 1 hour devoted to Meditation per day per level of the Vow.
+1: +5 bonus to resist illusion & enchantment, add Wis to spell points, +2 to Int-skills.
+3: Immune to mind-affecting spells & effects, gain +1 bonus to mental attributes.
+5: You may roll twice for all Int or Wis-based skill tests.

Vow of the Soul:
No actions based on anger, grief or fear. No lies or disrespect. Minimal use of force, etc.
+1: Recall 1 L1 past life, gain 20% bonus XP with each level.
+3: Recall 1 L3 past life, immune to level loss from spells or revival.
+5: Recall 1 L5 past life, not bound to any plane on death, gain XP normally while dead.



Meditation
Faith DC to meditate is (10 + 1 x hours spent).
Time spent on meditation counts twice toward rest and recovery.
Each hour in excess grants a +1 bonus to any single test where you Take 20.
May gain 1 bonus XP during downtime, or make a morale check to remove stress.

Past Lives
Invent a new character with appropriate skills and feats for their level.
Reflect on their place in history, and how their karma affected your next incarnation.
With a DC 20 Faith test, gain access to 1 feat or skill for purposes of 1 test or action.

Transcendance
Requires +10 bonus from all 3 vows.
You may convert as many character levels as you wish to Outsider levels, and travel at will between planes.
Perfect recollection of all memories and past lives, min. rank 10 in all skills.



Some of this feels a bit ad-hoc at the moment, but that's the overall picture.

Lacuna Caster
2018-11-22, 07:56 AM
Actually, while I'm on the topic of reincarnation and suchlike...

Based on the character samples above, the casual reader may have gathered that PCs can take up to 3 religious Vows that boost divine spellcasting, and in principle this could be generalised to non-religious motives as well. What I'll probably do is split them up as follows:


Vows, for the Lawful- specific, conscious commitments to always/never do X or Y- truth, poverty, justice, secrecy, obedience, mortification, etc. Stereotypical paladin material with built-in 'fall' mechanics for gross violations.
Appetites, for the Chaotic- innate emotional tendencies, such as a thirst for knowledge, beauty, adventure, vengeance, wealth, destruction etc. More flexible than a Vow, but has a random chance to 'kick in' and compel action at the GM's discretion. Some religious cults prize these in stead of Vows.
Beliefs and Goals- general-purpose 'X is true' or 'must accomplish Y' directives.
Bonds and Enmities- affection or hatred toward persons, groups, institutions, whole species or life in general- anything beside the self.

Advancing or altering motives also grants Inspiration to the player for later use.


So anyway. What happens when you're dead? Well, without a material underpinning the soul starts to fray around the edges and runs the risk of decohering, unless it can 'pull itself together' sufficiently by consolidating around some strongly held aspect of one's self-image: which is to say, one or more of the character's motives.

Each type of Outsider gets a small feat-chain related to building their image around a particular motive- Bonds for celestials, Enmities for fiends, Vows and Appetites for the denizens of lawful/chaotic planes. Undead are defined by their attachment to a familiar haunt on the material plane, such as their own physical remains, a treasured possession or a ruined home, but run the same risk of decoherence. This is all keyed off the Manifestation skill, which is only available to Outsiders.

Every day you're dead, make a DC 20 Manifestation check, adding your character level and the sum of your motives as a bonus.

If you succeed, you may optionally convert one character level to an 'Outsider level'- convert any associated skill points to ranks in Manifestation, and/or replace any associated feat with an outsider feat.
If you fail, you lose one character level. Souls who lose all character levels merge with their plane of residence and are lost. You must take at least one Outsider feat in order to invest in Manifestation or resist decoherence.

The upshot of this is that high-level characters and/or those with strong motives will probably fend off decoherence long enough that they can convert some skills and feats to 'outsider stuff' and attain stability without losing all vestige of their mortal personality. Relatively novice or weak-willed characters are likely to either decohere or will need to sacrifice enough of their skills/feats that little remains of their former identity- they wind up as low-level lemures, lantern archons and the like. At higher DCs, Manifestation checks can also be used to embark on alien planes, possess mortal remains, modify a host body, regenerate a body from scratch or do without one entirely- and the skill also grants the player some latitude over the appearance and attributes of their 'true form'.

Some of the more benign planes and/or their patron deities will send welcoming committees to assist newcomers with their transition, while the lower planes tend to treat fresh souls as livestock for consumption or worse. Monks are better at resisting decoherence, while Animists can seize the chance to reincarnate, and some settings will allow transition between the material plane and afterlives at particular times and places.


So... I do still need to actually draw up the feats in question. But that's the idea.

Lacuna Caster
2018-11-22, 04:49 PM
Ho-kay, traits for Lemures/Undead & Demons below:



OUTSIDERS AND MANIFESTATION

The Manifestation skill already, by default, allows for
possession, tweaks to a host body, incorporeal forms or bestowal
of outsider traits you already possess.

Possession
Take control of a living or vacant body
Sculpt Flesh
Make adjustments to your host body- add fangs, wings, blue skin, etc.
Bestow Essence
Help another with Manifestation checks, bestow one or more of your own traits
Spirit Bridge
Can cast Conjurations spontaneously





LEMURE TRAITS


Lemure [Haunting X]
Requirements: You focus on some aspect of the material world
to which you were bound by affection or trauma or both- your
own physical remains, the place of your death, a treasured
possession or a living wrongdoer. This trait may be taken
more than once- each time it applies to a different Haunt.

You may take the Manifestation skill, and gain a +5 bonus to
tests against decoherence. However, if your Haunt is ever
physically destroyed, the trait is rendered null and void.

All Lemures are vulnerable to light, and take 1 HP per round
per character level in damage when exposed to direct sunlight.


Corpse Walker
Requirements: Lemure, haunting your own corpse.
You inhabit and animate your own physical remains, reviving
with half your maximum health and no fatigue. No
Manifestation check is required (but see below.)

You do not suffer pain, hunger, fatigue or sleep, and remain
active down to -10 HP. However, your body still decays over
time, and the discomfort of inhabiting a putrid corpse clouds
your senses, applying penalties to most basic attributes.
* Largely intact (1 day or so):
-2 to Int/Wis/Cha/Ref, +4 max HP.
* Mildly decomposed (1d10 days or so):
-4 to Int/Wis/Cha/Ref, -2 max HP, gain DR 2/slashing.
* Heavily decomposed (1d100 days or so):
-6 to Int/Wis/Cha/Ref, -10 max HP, gain DR 5/blunt.

As the dead often lack working lungs and vocal cords, verbal
communication with the living is difficult at best, and any
non-physical skill checks require a DC 20 Manifestation test
to marshal the concentration required.


Consumption
Requirements: Corpse Walker
You may regenerate your body by consuming the flesh and blood
of the living.

A medium-sized victim will provide meals for 4 consumers,
allowing them to regenerate 2 HP per character level and roll
back 1 stage of decomposition. Draining a victim's blood in a
controlled nonlethal manner inflicts 2d6 injury per meal, but
needs some skill and specialised tools to be done safely.
Victims must be of the same species as the consumer- you can't
use cow's blood to reconstitute a human body.

You suffer from hunger as if you were alive- treat this trait
as an Appetite, with a DC of 10 per stage of decomposition.


Memory of Flesh
Requirements: Corpse Walker
As long as you are at nearly full HP (i.e, no pain penalties),
your body can manifest some of the attributes of life- blood
flow, physical warmth, breathing, etc. You can physically
pass as alive, and even birth or sire children.
You also regain 2 HP per day as long as the normal conditions
of living, such as sleep and air, are met.


Spectral Image
Requirements: Lemure, haunting a physical object, location or
other person
You gain a +10 bonus to Manifestation within or near your
Haunt, appearing as a ghostly image of your former self.
However, the absence of a body clouds your senses, and you
suffer a -4 penalty to Ref, Int, Wis and Cha. As an
incorporeal creature, you cannot interact with physical
objects, but also cannot be injured by most physical attacks
or spells, and gain basic flight abilities within your haunt.


Poltergeist
Requirements: Spectral Image
You can wield or manipulate physical components of your Haunt
as if you possessed your normal Str score. You also gain +2
to Str and a +1 bonus to Marksmanship and Close Combat per 3
character levels.


Tenebrous Form
Requirements: Spectral Image
You may turn invisible at will, gain +3 to Evasion, and gain a
+5 bonus, +1 per character level, to resist Divinations
revealing your presence or identity.


Stubborn Tenant
Requirements: Lemure
You no longer suffer penalties to mental/physical attributes
based on the state (or absence of) your corpse. Any corpse
you inhabit no longer decays.
You gain a +4 bonus to all tests of Will, including vs.
illusion or enchantment.
You also gain 10 bonus HP, and DR 1/magic for every character
level. Finally, your damage in sunlight is halved.


Chilling Aura
Requirements: Stubborn Tenant
You can feed upon the ambient energy of your surroundings,
manifesting as a perceptible chill in the air. This grants a
+2 bonus to divination checks to reveal your presence or
identity, and regenerates 4 HP per day.
You gain a +2 bonus to intimidate the living.
You gain a +5 bonus, +1 per character level, to Evocations
based on Ice, Void, Darkness or Silence.


Grave's Touch
Requirements: Stubborn Tenant
Successful touch attacks against the living allow you to (pick 1):
* (level 2+) deal 1d4 bonus fatigue damage, regain 2 HP
* (level 5+) inflict paralysis (treat as DC 20 disease with
immediate onset)
* (level 8+) bestow one negative level
These touch attacks function even when incorporeal.
Enemies you slay by touch receive an automatic Bestow Essence
check with a +10 bonus.



DEMON TRAITS


Demon [Enmity against X]
Requirements: You fixate on your hatred (Enmity) for a
particular person, group, institution, species or life in
general- this must be either an existing Motive or replace
one. In either case, the rating advances by 2 (to a maximum
of 5.) This Enmity can never be replaced or discarded as long
as you have the trait, but the trait may be taken more than
once to cover multiple Enmities.

You may take the Manifestation skill, and gain a +5 bonus to
tests for Possession of your chosen enemy. If they ever fall
under your permanent control or are otherwise destroyed or
negated as a threat, you must make a decoherence test at a -10
penalty, then select another subject.

Your hatred may be treated as an Appetite for either Vengeance
or Destruction by the GM, with +2 to temptation when provoked-
you may also succumb at will.

All demons are vulnerable to silver, and take double damage
from such weapons.


Crushing Will
Requirements: Demon, Cha +2, Will +2 or more
You gain +1 to Will and Charisma.
You gain a +5 bonus, +1 per character level, to intimidate or
enchant those who stand in the way of your hatred.


Hideous Strength
Requirements: Demon, Str +3 or more
You gain +2 to Strength, which may exceed normal maximums.
While you are provoked by your hatred you gain a +2 bonus, +1
per 3 character levels, to all physical combat tests.


The Black Gift
Requirements: Demon, Int +3 or more
You gain +5 to Manifestation tests to Sculpt Flesh.
You gain +5, +1 per character level, to spontaneous casting of
Profane magic.




So to give an example of how that might translate into more familiar terms:



Skeleton Warrior (level 1)
Lemure [Haunting: own corpse]
Corpse Walker
2 extra feats from regular list

Ghoul (level 3)
Lemure [Haunting: own corpse]
Corpse Walker
Consumption
Stubborn Tenant
Grave's Touch

Revenant (level 5)
Lemure [Haunting: own corpse]
Demon [Enmity: former murderer]
Corpse Walker
Chilling Aura
Stubborn Tenant
Hideous Strength

Vampire (level 7)
Lemure [Haunting: own corpse]
Corpse Walker
Consumption
Memory of Flesh
Stubborn Tenant
Grave's Touch
1 extra feat from regular list




Ghost (level 1)
Lemure [Haunting: family home]
Spectral Image
2 other feats from regular list

Oathbreaker (level 4)
Lemure [Haunting: arms & armour]
Spectral Image
Poltergeist
Stubborn Tenant
Chilling Aura

Haunted House (level 7)
Lemure [Haunting: family home]
Demon [Enmity: current residents]
Spectral Image
Poltergeist
Tenebrous Form
Crushing Will
Hideous Strength

Lich (level 10)
Lemure [Haunting: own corpse]
Lemure [Haunting: phylactery]
Corpse Walker
Stubborn Tenant
Chilling Aura
3 extra feats from regular list



I might loosen some of the prerequisites here or provide some extra freebies (ideally building a vampire shouldn't take 6 dedicated feats). Once I flesh out the Fae side of things I should have some templates for Succubi, Asura, Wendigo, Werewolves, et cetera as well.

PairO'Dice Lost
2018-11-24, 11:10 PM
Appetites, for the Chaotic- innate emotional tendencies, such as a thirst for knowledge, beauty, adventure, vengeance, wealth, destruction etc. More flexible than a Vow, but has a random chance to 'kick in' and compel action at the GM's discretion. Some religious cults prize these in stead of Vows.


I don't know if "Appetites" is the best term for this. Aside from possible confusion with undead creatures' Consumption, one colloquially hears of an appetite for negative things: a hunger for wealth, a thirst for vengeance, a taste for violence, etc. is more common than a hunger for justice, a thirst for discovery, a taste for love, etc., and an "insatiable appetite" is generally not a good thing.

I'd suggest something more explicitly emotional, like Passion or Zeal. Those are fairly neutral (one can equally have a passion for knowledge or a passion for killing, colloquially speaking), and since you intend for these to be GM compulsions it fits better there too (since you want to pursue your passion when possible, whereas you might put off a hunger pang until later if it's not convenient).


Each type of Outsider gets a small feat-chain related to building their image around a particular motive- Bonds for celestials, Enmities for fiends, Vows and Appetites for the denizens of lawful/chaotic planes. Undead are defined by their attachment to a familiar haunt on the material plane, such as their own physical remains, a treasured possession or a ruined home, but run the same risk of decoherence. This is all keyed off the Manifestation skill, which is only available to Outsiders.

Every day you're dead, make a DC 20 Manifestation check, adding your character level and the sum of your motives as a bonus.

If you succeed, you may optionally convert one character level to an 'Outsider level'- convert any associated skill points to ranks in Manifestation, and/or replace any associated feat with an outsider feat.
If you fail, you lose one character level. Souls who lose all character levels merge with their plane of residence and are lost. You must take at least one Outsider feat in order to invest in Manifestation or resist decoherence.


The upshot of this is that high-level characters and/or those with strong motives will probably fend off decoherence long enough that they can convert some skills and feats to 'outsider stuff' and attain stability without losing all vestige of their mortal personality. Relatively novice or weak-willed characters are likely to either decohere or will need to sacrifice enough of their skills/feats that little remains of their former identity- they wind up as low-level lemures, lantern archons and the like. At higher DCs, Manifestation checks can also be used to embark on alien planes, possess mortal remains, modify a host body, regenerate a body from scratch or do without one entirely- and the skill also grants the player some latitude over the appearance and attributes of their 'true form'.

I like that you're providing a nice mechanical explanation for how some characters retain their selves in the afterlife while others don't, with enough wiggle room that a high-level character could simply roll low a bunch of times in a row to end up as a petitioner and a 1st-level character could roll some 20s and stabilize. I assume the motive bonuses are +1/+3/+5 like the divine caster bonuses, such that someone with 3 long-term vows has +15 to this check and is guaranteed to succeed if they're 4th level or higher? I also assume that outsider HD will continue to have 8+Int skill points or thereabouts so a high-level character with low or no motive bonuses can sink 8+Int skill points into Manifestation after a single success (and possibly trade a feat for Skill Focus [Manifestation] or the like) to also have a guaranteed success on further checks?


I might loosen some of the prerequisites here or provide some extra freebies (ideally building a vampire shouldn't take 6 dedicated feats). Once I flesh out the Fae side of things I should have some templates for Succubi, Asura, Wendigo, Werewolves, et cetera as well.

Rather than giving out a bunch of freebie feats, I'd suggest condensing a lot of the basic effects into a few different "starter package" feats, so you can make all sorts of standard undead with just a handful of feats. Something like this:
One mandatory feat for choosing an appearance and basic traits: Flesh Form (rotting corpse, decays over time), Skeletal Form (skeleton, doesn't decay as much but lacks lungs and such), and Spirit Form (incorporeal, doesn't decay at all but hard to interact physically)
One optional feat to choose how lifelike it is: Memory of Life (like Memory of Flesh) or Embrace of Death (gives you the nice necromantic perks but makes it very hard to seem alive), both of which give the lack-of-degradation benefits of Stubborn Tenant.
One optional feat to choose kind and degree of dependence: Consumption (as your feat) or Sustenance (regenerate automatically as long as some focus is intact)

So a Skeleton Warrior just has Skeletal Form, a Ghoul has Corpse Form and Consumption (Flesh), a Ghost has Spirit Form and Sustenance (Family Home), a Vampire has Corpse Form, Memory of Life, and Consumption (Blood), a Lich has Spirit Form, Embrace of Death, and Sustenance (Phylactery), and so forth. Just 1-3 feats to create baseline versions of everything, giving you a bunch more feat slots to differentiate your cultured seductive vampires from your rat-controlling savage vampires, your revenants from your mummies, etc.

Also, if you haven't taken a look at Ghostwalk, I'd suggest it. That book has a build-your-own-ghost system by way of special classes (Eidolon and Eidoloncers, for martials and casters, respectively) and feat groups (in six thematic paths: Corrupter, Dominator, Haunt, Poltergeist, Shaper, and Traveler), so it'll probably give you plenty of material for your undead and demon feats.

Lacuna Caster
2018-11-28, 11:23 AM
I'd suggest something more explicitly emotional, like Passion or Zeal. Those are fairly neutral (one can equally have a passion for knowledge or a passion for killing, colloquially speaking), and since you intend for these to be GM compulsions it fits better there too (since you want to pursue your passion when possible, whereas you might put off a hunger pang until later if it's not convenient).
Well... yes and no. There are contexts where you might put off your Appetite for Destruction, for example, if you're attending a royal ball and don't want to wreck the place, or need to show restraint in a duel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kFysvQ7gzc&t=14m8s).

"Instinct" might be a better word, perhaps, given part of the intention here is that these map onto 'animal urges' or other primal survival instincts- my plan at the moment is to have that seque into the various Fae abilities, focused on borrowing animal/plant/elemental traits from wild species.


I like that you're providing a nice mechanical explanation for how some characters retain their selves in the afterlife while others don't, with enough wiggle room that a high-level character could simply roll low a bunch of times in a row to end up as a petitioner and a 1st-level character could roll some 20s and stabilize. I assume the motive bonuses are +1/+3/+5 like the divine caster bonuses, such that someone with 3 long-term vows has +15 to this check and is guaranteed to succeed if they're 4th level or higher?
Pretty much, yeah. Other beliefs and goals will do the same trick of course, and various feats can provide a stabilisation bonus. All characters of a given level have the same number of skill points & feats, though (with some extra at level 1)- there aren't any class/species-specific skill point allowances.


So a Skeleton Warrior just has Skeletal Form, a Ghoul has Corpse Form and Consumption (Flesh), a Ghost has Spirit Form and Sustenance (Family Home), a Vampire has Corpse Form, Memory of Life, and Consumption (Blood), a Lich has Spirit Form, Embrace of Death, and Sustenance (Phylactery), and so forth. Just 1-3 feats to create baseline versions of everything, giving you a bunch more feat slots to differentiate your cultured seductive vampires from your rat-controlling savage vampires, your revenants from your mummies, etc.
Hmm. That makes a certain amount of sense.

My only quibble would be that I'm a little leery of having 'skeletal form' as a permanent selection- it seems like any corpse that lacks regeneration of some kind is gonna decay to that state eventually, and if you have regeneration abilities you might as well regain flesh?

I'll try and take a look at Ghostwalk once I have the chance.

noob
2018-11-28, 11:49 AM
Well... yes and no. There are contexts where you might put off your Appetite for Destruction, for example, if you're attending a royal ball and don't want to wreck the place, or need to show restraint in a duel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kFysvQ7gzc&t=14m8s).

"Instinct" might be a better word, perhaps, given part of the intention here is that these map onto 'animal urges' or other primal survival instincts- my plan at the moment is to have that seque into the various Fae abilities, focused on borrowing animal/plant/elemental traits from wild species.


Pretty much, yeah. Other beliefs and goals will do the same trick of course, and various feats can provide a stabilisation bonus. All characters of a given level have the same number of skill points & feats, though (with some extra at level 1)- there aren't any class/species-specific skill point allowances.


Hmm. That makes a certain amount of sense.

My only quibble would be that I'm a little leery of having 'skeletal form' as a permanent selection- it seems like any corpse that lacks regeneration of some kind is gonna decay to that state eventually, and if you have regeneration abilities you might as well regain flesh?

I'll try and take a look at Ghostwalk once I have the chance.

Feats can be retrained or replaced.
So you could put clauses allowing to replace skeletal form by corpse form when you are targeted by a regeneration spell and other stuff like that(like allowing to gain skeletal form when you have corpse form by a process involving stripping yourself of your flesh and some vague fluff about flesh being able to decay if you are left unfed too)

PairO'Dice Lost
2018-11-28, 04:58 PM
"Instinct" might be a better word, perhaps, given part of the intention here is that these map onto 'animal urges' or other primal survival instincts- my plan at the moment is to have that seque into the various Fae abilities, focused on borrowing animal/plant/elemental traits from wild species.

Instinct is a good value-neutral term, yeah.


Hmm. That makes a certain amount of sense.

My only quibble would be that I'm a little leery of having 'skeletal form' as a permanent selection- it seems like any corpse that lacks regeneration of some kind is gonna decay to that state eventually, and if you have regeneration abilities you might as well regain flesh?

Well, there are some undead varieties that are traditionally themed as rotting corpses, which might rot away to a skeletal form but might reasonably regenerate flesh, such as zombies, ghouls, and liches. But then there are some that are definitely themed as skeletal in nature, such that they'd need to be raised from skeletons rather than fleshy corpses (and/or immediately decay down to a skeleton when animated) and for whom regenerating flesh wouldn't really make sense, such as skeletons, death knights, devourers, mohrg, boneclaws, bone nagas, and so forth, and being able to reliably recreate those would be beneficial.

Lacuna Caster
2018-11-30, 06:48 AM
Well, there are some undead varieties that are traditionally themed as rotting corpses, which might rot away to a skeletal form but might reasonably regenerate flesh, such as zombies, ghouls, and liches. But then there are some that are definitely themed as skeletal in nature...
The Lich actually struck me as being one of the odder cases, since they explicitly have full regenerative capabilities but all that gets regenerated is a skeletal frame with some vestiges of flesh. Unless the soul has some specific neurosis which causes it to see itself as naturally decrepit and emaciated? I suppose 'Embrace of Death' might fit the idiom. Hmm.

I have traits for animals/fae nearly done, though they're probably horribly unbalanced and might be streamlined a bit.

Actually, let me just throw out the sketches I have for the lawful/celestial side of things- maybe you'd have some thoughts on gaps I need to cover or where I could merge functionality?


Eidolon [Vow of X]
You are bound to the conventions and edicts of a particular
social group through a Vow of importance to that group.

Vulnerable to agate.

First Principles
Enshrined sense of honour- cannot willingly break Vow.
Immune to persuasion/enchantment that would break Vow.
Bonus to preparing/casting spells from the Order domain.

Myrmidon Bond
Share thoughts/experience/coordination.
Compulsory obedience toward superiors/majority.
May be taken more than once to increase rank.

Unbreakable Word
Any agreement you make is supernaturally binding upon both
parties. +5 to all dialog checks where you do not lie.
Resistant to deceit or illusions.


Logos [Natural Law X]
You focus upon your knowledge of the universal forces that
bind and govern matter and energy- known as Natural Law- and
use it to consolidate your own self-image.

Vulnerable to either apathy, reverie or rigidity.

Logos Pythagorean
Requirements: Logos, a crafting or knowledge skill focused
on geometry or mathematics
Gain a +5 bonus to the skill in question.
You may adopt an outer frame or shell modelled on one of the
Five Perfect Solids without the need for any Manifestation
check. It is ethereal but plainly visible with divination
spells.

Tesseract Planar
Requirements: Logos Pythagorean
Can enlarge, reduce, establish a bridge between planes, or
trap an enemy.

Music of the Spheres
Requirements: Logos Pythagorean
Bonus to all Universal spells, including spontaneous
Telekinesis.

Logos Atomist
Requirements: Logos, a crafting or knowledge skill focused
on medicine or chemistry
Gain a +5 bonus to the skill in question.
Heal & repair things more easily.
Pick 1 trait:
Liquid Visage (+1 Cha, +5 to Disguise)
Steel Sinews (+3 Str, +5 to grapple techniques)
Iron Skin (+3 DR, +3 spell resistance)
Item Graft (can't be disarmed, +5 bonus to use)
Fast Healing (+2 HP/round, no bleeding)
Mana Reserve (+5 spell points, cantrips free)

Internal Alchemy
Requirements: Logos Atomist
Bonus to Transmutations of permanent duration.
Gain an additional Atomist trait per 3 levels.

Law Of Conservation
Requirements: Logos Atomist
Bonus to countering Evocations, gain free Ward spell.
Can absorb spell points/HP from spells countered.

Logos Nous
Requirements: Logos, either perception or a knowledge skill
Gain a +5 bonus to the skill in question.
You have perfect recollection of all witnessed events.

Inexorable Conclusion
Requirements: Logos Nous
Bonus to divination.
Make prediction or plan, rewind if failed (mini wish.)

Quad Erat Demonstrandum
Requirements: Logos Nous
Bonus to gathering information or research.
Bonus to debate when you provide evidence or ugly truths.
No compromise if you win without using lies or threats.




Angel [Bond with X]
You focus on a powerful Bond.

Vulnerable to obsidian.

Halo of Protection
Bonus to defences, DR, saving throws and counterspells.
Bonus to diplomacy.
Can always bestow on the target of your Bond.

Ethereal Wings
Can turn ethereal at will without risk of decoherence.
Bonus to divinations/conjurations to/from the home plane of
your Bond.

Hand of Grace
Bonus to spontaneous casting of Holy spells.
Gain bonus to bestow essence.
Can bestow Halo on one several non-bonded subjects nearby.


Maia [Locus X]
Bestow material form on a portion of the plane (known as the
Locus)- in this way, the plane no longer threatens you with
decoherence, and it grows in substance. You cannot leave your
Locus, and if it is destroyed, the trait is rendered null and
void.

Maia are vulnerable to void magic- they can be 'countered' as
a spell matching their character level, dealing half their
maximum HP in damage.

Genius Loci
Requires: Maia
You may embody within your locus with a Manifestation test,
and exit it.
Can extend Locus benefits wherever you go within a few feet.

Eminent Domain
Requires: Genius Loci
Expand the area of your Locus. Can be shaped using Crafting
skills.
You can possess and bestow essence more easily within the
Locus.

Insular Domain
Requires: Genius Loci
Turn your Locus into a personal Demiplane with it's own
conditions.
May optionally bridge to material plane.

Genesis
Requires: Maia
Create minor/ambient life within your Locus, such as edible
insects, trees & fruit.
Intelligent animals or organisms must take up residence
independently.

Renewal
Requires: Genesis
Providing healing or repairs within your Locus.
Objects & life that are part of the Locus self-renew.

Breath of Life
Requires: Genesis
Create an intelligent soul within your Locus.
Starts off as a level 1 Maia with any other traits/skills
you can teach.

Ambient Empath
Requires: Maia
You sense the emotions and intent of others within your
Locus. No save is possible, but any pain is felt directly.

Window Of Soul
Requires: Ambient Empath
You can probe thoughts by establishing a mental link with a
subject. You also gain control over your Empath ability.

Spirit Meld
Requires: Ambient Empath
Merge willingly with another Maia to gain half their levels
and your pick of skills/feats.

Lacuna Caster
2018-11-30, 02:26 PM
...And finally, wilderness and the Fae. Turned out to be rather long, probably still needs fine-tuning.



Animal:
Cannot learn or speak true languages. Can communicate with
own species in simple terms- stop, come, flee, danger, etc-
equivalent to a vocabulary of maybe 5 words per point of Int.

Cannot learn Craft or Knowledge skills (unless granted by a
trait) or Faith or Arcana. Can only take Skill Focus,
Resilience or Weapon Expertise as feats.

All animals of a given species have the same attribute array,
though you may pick 2 attributes and swap a point from 1 to
the other.

Natural Weapons: Bite/Claws/Horns/Tentacles/etc.
Gain either:
1d6 claw attack x2.
1d8 bite attack with +1 damage and trip.
1d4 constriction, +1 cumulative damage/round.
1d4 bite/sting with 1d6 poison/round (once/day.)
1d8 tail or tentacle slap, improved reach.
chemical fog
acid spray
rapid digestion
Does not create Openings like usual unarmed attacks.

Natural Armour: Antlers/Frills/Colouration/Fur/Hide/etc.
Bonus to certain social skills, as for clothing.
Pick 1:
+2 to Persuasion/Command, or +5 when herding or courting.
+5 to Evasion when hiding or moving silently in habitat.
+5 versus Exposure to heat/cold/acid/etc., per habitat.
DR +4 for thickened hide.
1d4 bash damage for spiked hide.

Limbs & Locomotion [pick type]:
Sprinting/Jumping/Climbing/Swimming/etc.
+10 to a particular Athletics check.
Wings:
40 ft/round fly speed, +/-5 feet per size category.
Needs 1/2 as much space to turn around.

Animal Senses [pick 2]:
Sharp Eyes: +5 to Perception when searching.
Wide Eyes: +5 to Perception when surprised.
Night Vision: negate up to +10 darkness penalties.
Keen Hearing: +3 to Perception, even when asleep.
Echolocation: ignore darkness, see through walls (counts x2.)
Scent: +5 to Perception when tracking, +2 if asleep.
Feelers: +5 to Craft or Perception checks with touch.
Bio-Sense: +8 vs. illusion/darkness/camouflage (counts x2.)
You can, if desired, select the same perk twice, but no more.

Animal Instinct:
Pick one:
+5 to Knowledge[Terrain] (for habitat only.)
+5 to Craft[Building] (for nest only.)
+5 to Truth Sense, even vs. humans or other species.

Alternate Metabolis:
Rapid Metabolism
Food requirements increase x4, lifespan halved.
+2 to Reflexes, +1 to Int and Cha, +4 to Athletics.
Cold-Blooded
Food requirements reduced by 90%, lifespan doubled.
Exposure DCs for cold weather doubled.
Hibernation
Enter suspended animation to reduce food/water/air needs x20.
Gain +10 bonus vs. exposure to heat & cold. Needs 24 hours.
Steady Growth
Advance a size category with each age category.
Gain +1 to all attributes when doing so, ignore age penalties.

Marine or Amphibious
Can breathe normally in water. Requires Cold-Blooded.
Scent, vision and other senses function normally in water.
Amphibious creatures can still operate on land.
Marine creatures cannot, but ignore swim penalties.

Natural Spell [Usage]:
Gain a pool of 5 spell points to expend on a single type of
arcane spell from any school beside Necromancy, Transmutation
or Thaumaturgy. (Note that an animal's ability to engage in
dialog or complex mimicry may be limited.)



Plant:
Vegetation doesn't usually get up and move about, and it's
perceptions of the world are quite slow and limited. As such,
their usual array of attributes can be ignored, and they
cannot take skills.

They don't need eat or sleep in the usual sense, but they do
suffer drought or prolongued darkness in a manner similar to
starvation, and need air.

Gain +10 bonus vs. exposure to heat & cold.

New Growth:
Convert 1 HP/round to fatigue damage, up to a limit of 10 HP.
Gain x2 at level 4, x3 at level 7, and x4 at level 10.
Other forms of natural healing are doubled.

Bark Skin:
Gain +2 DR, or +5 vs. elements other than fire.
DR for both increases by +1 at levels 4, 7 and 10.

Stillness:
Gain +3 to Evasion tests used to hide or move silently.
Gains +1 at levels 4, 7 and 10.
Can enter dormant state to reduce need for food/water/air x20.

Longevity:
Age penalties reduced by 1 category, lifespan doubled.
Can be taken more than once, effects stack.

Entanglement:
Gain +5 to grapple or climb checks.
Gain a free constriction attack on a successful grapple.

Motile Tissues
Body can express physical attributes (Str & Ref).
Max of +1 per age category.
Uproot to gain 5-foot move speed, dealing half max HP in
damage. Gain +5 to Close Combat tests.
May also take Natural Weapon or Animal Senses traits.

Sessile Mind
Body can express mental attributes (Int, Wis & Cha).
Max of +1 per age category.
Gain human-level senses within 15 feet.
Can gain skills and feats normally, plus Natural Spell.

Steady Growth
Advance a size category with each age category.
Gain +1 to all attributes when doing so, ignore age penalties.



Infection:
Diseases and microbes, for obvious reasons, are not usually
played as standalone characters, but giant variants of walking
mushrooms, gelatinous oozes, etc. do exist.

Amoeboid Form
Critical hits impossible, no pain penalties.
Gain DR 2/edged, +1 per character level.
Successful grapple allows for 'digestion', dealing 1d4 acid
damage per round, plus suffocation.
Can split into two identical individuals with the same number
of total HP at the cost of 1 level of experience. Each is 1
size category smaller than before, adjusting age category
accordingly if needed.

Rapid Maturity
Lifespan halved, grow to maturity in 10d10 days.
Regain 2 bonus HP per day, +1 per character level.

Acquired Immunity [Element X]
Gain +5 DR, +1 per character level, to one of the following:
Fire, Ice, Lightning, Acid, Poison, Disease

Infectious Gestation [X Vector, Y Development]
Vector: Spore, Contact, Sting, Sexual
Spore: Infection to anyone within 10 feet who fails a DC 8 Str test.
Contact: Infection if a DC 12 + damage Str test is failed.
Sting: Automatic infection on a successful sting attack (need natural weapon.)
Sexual: Automatic infection after sexual congress.
Development:
Embryonic: Offspring emerges in 2d10 days, killing the host.
Alternating: As Embryonic, but you may choose an alternate form for offspring.
Transformative: Host gradually turns- use decoherence based on DC 20 disease per day.
Possessive: As Transformative, but treat host using possession rules.

Adverse Mutation [Attribute X]
This trait has no benefit, and is taken purely as a consequence of bad rolls for mutation.
It applies a -1 penalty to a randomly selected attribute.
(If Standing is chosen using a d6, pick another yourself.)

Steady Growth
Advance a size category with each age category.
Gain +1 to all attributes when doing so, ignore age penalties.



Elemental traits:

Stone Form
+5 DR\blunt, +2 Str, -2 Ref, 10 bonus HP.
Immune to critical hits and pain penalties.
Normal weight doubled.
Motion halved or reduced by 10 feet, whichever is less.
+10 vs. knockback or trip effects, +5 to grapple or charge.

Aerial Form
Can fly 40 ft/round, bypass physical attacks & barriers.
Immune to critical hits and pain penalties.
Cannot carry most items.
+10 to spontaneous casting of Call Wind or Lightning spells.

Infernal Form
Deal 1d6 fire damage to opponents in melee, x2 if grappled.
Deals 50% damage to carried items, or x2 if flammable.
Immune to critical hits and pain penalties.
+10 to spontaneous casting of Call Fire or Light spells.

Glacial Form
+2 DR\blunt, 1d4 ice damage to grappled opponents.
Immune to critical hits and pain penalties.
Can 'melt' to slip past barriers, dropping items.
Only deal 50% physical damage while melted.
+10 to spontaneous casting of Call Ice or Void spells.

Well of Chaos
You suffer +3 to the DC of all Instinct tests.
You gain a +5 bonus to all Evocation tests.
You gain +10 to casting Transmutations upon yourself only.

Inner Furnace [Element X]
A particular element runs through your veins and sustains you.
You can eventually digest almost any substance, converting it
to your native element, thus allowing you eat most substances.
In addition, you gain the following benefits:
Earth: +2 DR, 50% faster natural healing, 2d4 acid breath weapon.
+5 to Instinct: Social or Gluttony test DC
Air: Fly speed +10 feet/round, 2d10 lightning breath weapon.
+5 to Instinct: Curiosity or Beauty test DC
Fire: 2d8 fire breath weapon, add 1 Call Fire modifier for free.
+5 to Instinct: Aggression or Lust test DC
Ice: 2d6 ice breath weapon, add 1 Call Ice modifier for free.
+5 to Instinct: Greed or Fear test DC
Breath weapons extend in a 15-foot-cone by default, with the
standard reach modifiers for size category, and increase by 1
die per 3 character levels.



Fae [Instinct X]
You pick an Instinct and use it give you focus. The longer
you go without indulging it, the higher the Manifestation DC
required to resist decoherence (DC 10 + 1/day without
indulgence.)

Heart's Desire
+5 bonus to Sendings, Illusions and Enchantments related to
satisfying your own or another creature's Instinct.

Id And Ego
Create an alternate physical form that you may bestow a
selection of your traits upon.
This form emerges either at will or when triggered by your
Instinct. Doing so takes 1 round, and requires a will save
versus a DC 15 temptation to revert.

Primal Legacy [Trait A, Trait B]
Obtain random traits from an animal species with the same
Instinct, or any vegetable, infection or elemental species.
(Pick 3, including Adverse Mutation, then roll to pick x2.)

Natural Selection
For rolls related to Manifestation or mutation, roll twice
and keep best result.
Gain +5 bonus to Manifestation checks to Sculpt Flesh.

Forth And Multiply
A DC 15 Manifestation test allows you to confer a selection
of your traits on offspring, creating a stable template for
a 'race'.
+5 to Bestow Essence on others.

Changeling Form
On your body's death, a DC 20 Manifestation test allows you
to reincarnate in a random body with only 1 lost level of
experience (albeit as an infant.)

Lacuna Caster
2018-11-30, 03:06 PM
Feats can be retrained or replaced.
So you could put clauses allowing to replace skeletal form by corpse form when you are targeted by a regeneration spell and other stuff like that(like allowing to gain skeletal form when you have corpse form by a process involving stripping yourself of your flesh and some vague fluff about flesh being able to decay if you are left unfed too)
Yeah, being able to swap traits in and out might make sense as well. It's combining that with natural regeneration that raises some questions.

So, couple of more examples of how the traits above might be packaged into some more familiar configurations (I'll most likely revisit these after I've digested Dice's suggestions- they also eat up way too many feats at the moment.)



Grey Ooze (level 1):
Amoeboid Form
Natural Weapons [Tentacle]
Acquired Immunity [Cold]
Animal Senses [Bio-Sense]

Werewolf (level 4):
Fae [Instinct: Aggression]
Id and Ego
Natural Weapons [Claw x2]
Natural Weapons [Bite]
2 other feats from regular list

Succubus (level 6):
Fae [Instinct: Lust]
Natural Weapons [Claw x2]
Heart's Desire
Lemure [Haunting: Victim]
Memory of Flesh
Consumption
1 other feat from regular list

Red Dragon (level 8):
Natural Weapons [Claw x2]
Natural Weapons [Bite]
Natural Armour [Thickened Hide]
Locomotion [Wings]
Steady Growth
Cold-Blooded
Inner Furnace [Fire]
1 other feat from regular list



Modron (level 1):
Eidolon [Vow of Obedience]
Myrmidon Bond
Logos [Knowledge: Accounting]
Logos Pythagorean [Cubic Form]

Dryad (level 4):
Maia [Locus: Grove]
Genesis
Ambient Empath
Fae [Instinct: Fear]
Heart's Desire
1 other feat from regular list

Inevitable (level 6):
Eidolon [Vow of Justice]
Myrmidon Bond
Logos [Knowledge: Anatomy]
Logos Atomist [Liquid Visage]
Internal Alchemy [Iron Body, Item Graft: Morningstar]
Internal Alchemy [Fast Healing, Iron Body x2]
Logos Nous

Planetar (level 8):
Angel [Bond: Mortals]
Eidolon [Vow of Mercy]
Halo of Protection
Ethereal Wings
Hand of Grace
Unbreakable Word
2 other feats from regular list



Elf (level 1)
Fae [Instinct: Beauty]
Longevity
Stillness
Animal Senses [Sharp Eyes, Keen Hearing]

Dwarf (level 1)
Fae [Instinct: Greed]
Animal Senses [Night Vision, Feelers]
Animal Instinct [Knowledge: Underground]
1 other regular feat of choice

Naga (level 4)
Fae [Instinct: Gluttony]
Animal Senses [Night Vision, Scent]
Natural Weapons [Poison bite]
Natural Weapons [Constriction]
Cold-Blooded
Locomotion [Swimming]

Weirwood (level 9)
Fae [Instinct: Survival]
Bark Skin
Longevity
Steady Growth
Sessile Mind
3 other regular feats of choice



Sylph (level 3)
Fae [Instinct: Curiosity]
Locomotion [Wings]
Inner Furnace [Air]
2 other regular feats of choice

Red Slaad (level 5)
Fae [Instinct: Aggression]
Natural Weapon [Claws x2]
Natural Weapon [Bite]
Locomotion [Jumping]
Well of Chaos
Infectious Gestation [Contact, Alternating: Blue Slaad]

Lament Configuration (level 7)
Eidolon [Vow of Secrecy]
Logos [Knowledge: The Nine Hells]
Logos Pythagorean [Cubic Form]
Tesseract Planar
Unbreakable Pact
Sphere of Summoning
1 other regular feat of choice

The Burning Eye (level 10)
Demon [Enmity: The Kings of Men]
Maia [Locus: The Dark Tower]
Genius Loci
Eminent Domain x2
Ambient Empath
Window of Soul
Crushing Will
The Dark Flame

noob
2018-11-30, 04:43 PM
Steady growth seems a bit too much: someone who takes that feat can then get +6 to all mental stats without any penalty to physical stats.
It is a bit too much good as a feat.
I mean it is worth like 2 of the other feats from the list.
maybe you should put most of the stuff from those lists as half feats except for stuff that truly stands out such as steady growth.
(you can make half feats under multiple forms for example it could be "every two feats from a given list you gain a bonus feat" or have
a feat "outsider picks" which allows you to get two picks at once and have most of those former feats becomes outsider picks)

Lacuna Caster
2018-11-30, 07:31 PM
Steady growth seems a bit too much: someone who takes that feat can then get +6 to all mental stats without any penalty to physical stats.
It is a bit too much good as a feat.
I mean it is worth like 2 of the other feats from the list.
Yeah, quite possibly. I could just... say that it counts as two feats for simplicity?

Anyway, assuming balance can be ironed out- which is not a small assumption- the overall framework should give some indication of how one could put together a sizeable bestiary from a relatively small selection of building blocks. And... I could probably put together a transmutation school now, leveraging the traits available.

PairO'Dice Lost
2018-12-04, 04:33 PM
Actually, let me just throw out the sketches I have for the lawful/celestial side of things- maybe you'd have some thoughts on gaps I need to cover or where I could merge functionality?

I won't go line-by-line, since there's a lot of stuff to cover and most of it is good, but some general thoughts:

1) Most of the feats you've come up are fairly targeted and discrete, doing one thing and doing it well, but the various "made of or covered by a certain material" abilities (Logos Atomist, [Elemental] Form, Bark Skin, Amoeboid Form) are a lot more fiddly and conceptually-overlapping. There's little pattern to whether being made of something hard (stone/ice/metal) grants +Str and/or +DR, some scale and some don't, Inner Furnace benefits don't always align with the baseline benefits (e.g. Stone Form and Furnace [Stone] grant DR, Aerial Form and Furnace [Air] grant a fly speed boost, but Glacial Form grants DR and Furnace doesn't boost DR), you have an Amoeboid Form for oozes but no Water Form for water elementals but Glacial Form lets you melt and kinda be a water elemental, and so on.

There's nothing inherently wrong with special-casing things like this--you don't want your earth elementals, stone golems, and gargoyles to basically be palette swaps of the same basic "earth-based bruiser" monster, or earth elementals and ice paraelementals to be identical except for damage types, after all--but breaking things down more would require you to write up fewer abilities and would make monsters more modular. For instance:


Amoeboid Form
Critical hits impossible, no pain penalties.
Gain DR 2/edged, +1 per character level.
Successful grapple allows for 'digestion', dealing 1d4 acid
damage per round, plus suffocation.
Can split into two identical individuals with the same number
of total HP at the cost of 1 level of experience. Each is 1
size category smaller than before, adjusting age category
accordingly if needed


Glacial Form
+2 DR\blunt, 1d4 ice damage to grappled opponents.
Immune to critical hits and pain penalties.
Can 'melt' to slip past barriers, dropping items.
Only deal 50% physical damage while melted.
+10 to spontaneous casting of Call Ice or Void spells.


Stone Form
+5 DR\blunt, +2 Str, -2 Ref, 10 bonus HP.
Immune to critical hits and pain penalties.
Normal weight doubled.
Motion halved or reduced by 10 feet, whichever is less.
+10 vs. knockback or trip effects, +5 to grapple or charge.


All of them share "immune to crits" and "DR against one type," but the amount of DR and whether it scales differs for each. Amoeboid and Glacial Form share "damage during a grapple," but Stone doesn't, when one can certainly justify 1d4 bludgeoning + suffocation for being engulfed and crushed by a stone elemental. Glacial Form lets an ice creature melt to go through small spaces, but Amoeboid Form doesn't let an ooze contort itself to do the same. A Stone creature gains benefits vs. knockback and trip and benefits with grapples, but an un-trippable and pseudopod-equipped Amoeboid creature does not. Lots of tiny differences that can trip you up, lots of things only one gets that others might reasonably want from a conceptual standpoint.

Instead, you could have a generic "Inorganic Form" feat or the like which would grant immunity to crits and pain and then would let you choose a certain number of selections from a menu of elemental-themed abilities like Animal Senses does. These selections would include things like "Amorphous: Can slip through very small spaces" or "Elemental Grasp: 1d4 damage during a grapple" or "Breath Weapon: 2d6 damage with a free Evocation selection applied, both of a matching energy type" or "Exceptionally Stable: Bonuses to resist combat maneuvers" and so forth. You can use that setup to recreate all of the existing Form feats, plus those form feats swapped around (like an ooze that can slip through cracks or a super-tough ice monster), plus other things like a belker with its smoke claws, which wants the "fly through cracks" part of Aerial Form but not the "can't physically interact with things" part and the "resist swords and suffocate people" part of Amoeboid Form but not the "splits like an ooze" part.

------------------------------

2) Regarding Plants:


Vegetation doesn't usually get up and move about, and it's
perceptions of the world are quite slow and limited. As such,
their usual array of attributes can be ignored, and they
cannot take skills.

[...]

Motile Tissues
Body can express physical attributes (Str & Ref).
...
May also take Natural Weapon or Animal Senses traits.

Sessile Mind
Body can express mental attributes (Int, Wis & Cha).
...
Gain human-level senses within 15 feet.
Can gain skills and feats normally, plus Natural Spell.


One of the worst design decisions of the 3e monster system was the concept of nonabilities. It might seem intuitive at first to say that incorporeal things have no Str, immobile things have no Dex, unliving things have no Con, and mindless things have no Int, but that leads to a cascade of corner cases (What happens when ghosts want to attack other incorporeal creatures, which they should be able to grab just fine? Can a golem handle more or less complex instructions than a shield guardian, or than a skeleton?) and rules patches (giving constructs and undead too many HD to compensate for lack of Con, then giving constructs but not undead size-based bonus HP, then giving some but not all undead Cha to HP instead of Con; giving immobile creatures Dex -- and then slapping on arbitrary AC bonuses to make things work out right, and having to explain why Dex -- creatures are more mobile than those at Dex 0).

So I think Motile Tissues and Sessile Mind are bad feats to have. First, anything that can attack the PCs but is mindless and usually immobile is more of a trap than a monster, and anything that can talk to the PCs but can't move itself is more of a magic item or wondrous architecture than a creature. Look at the Shrieker (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/fungus.htm); why make a full stat block for a "monster" with three nonabilities and two very low stats when it could be a two-line trap?

Second, most plant monsters you'll want to duplicate (treants, myconids, orcworts, shambling mounds...) [I]are going to have a mind and mobility, so those are just a two-feat tax on all plant monsters, leading to higher minimum HD and less ability diversity. Instead, I'd just have the Plant type be "Caps on stats, normally immobile but can uproot to move slowly" with no special treatment of certain stats or skills to avoid all those issues.

------------------------------

3) Almost all of your sample monsters have at least one Natural Attack selection, and those that don't either effectively do (the Inevitable's weapon graft), normally come with a specific weapon (Planetars and their greatswords), or is a noncombatant by obligation (the Lament Configuration [great choice, by the way] physically can't) or by personality (the Modron isn't violent).

So rather than requiring 90+% of monsters to take Natural Attack at least once, I'd instead give every monster one natural weapon or appropriate manufactored weapon for free (of a type based on its body plan and fighting style) with the option to take Natural Attack or Item Graft for more, and then have a specific Noncombatant feat that takes away the free weapon and grants some other benefit, say a knowledge and/or social skill bonus since those sorts of monsters are meant to be allies and information sources anyway and it might save a slot on Logos.


Anyway, assuming balance can be ironed out- which is not a small assumption- the overall framework should give some indication of how one could put together a sizeable bestiary from a relatively small selection of building blocks. And... I could probably put together a transmutation school now, leveraging the traits available.

Agreed. Turning iron body into "You gain Inorganic Form (Iron)" and alter self into "You can swap out your feats for some monster feats" is a heck of a lot easier to balance and to deal with during play than long special-case spell descriptions or playing mix-and-match with monster stat blocks.

EDIT: And I see you've done basically that in your other thread. Off to comment there.

noob
2018-12-04, 05:25 PM
Amoeboid Form
Critical hits impossible, no pain penalties.
Gain DR 2/edged, +1 per character level.
Successful grapple allows for 'digestion', dealing 1d4 acid
damage per round, plus suffocation.
Can split into two identical individuals with the same number
of total HP at the cost of 1 level of experience. Each is 1
size category smaller than before, adjusting age category
accordingly if needed
So the epic level commoner from more than half of the capitals of 50000 person could with that feat become 1048576 persons that then could spread and form 20 such capitals?
Furthermore if the origin commoner have that feat which make it grow with age it means that most of the sub commoners will be of adult age(there is no age categories under adult)

Lacuna Caster
2018-12-10, 12:09 PM
All of them share "immune to crits" and "DR against one type," but the amount of DR and whether it scales differs for each. Amoeboid and Glacial Form share "damage during a grapple," but Stone doesn't, when one can certainly justify 1d4 bludgeoning + suffocation for being engulfed and crushed by a stone elemental. Glacial Form lets an ice creature melt to go through small spaces, but Amoeboid Form doesn't let an ooze contort itself to do the same. A Stone creature gains benefits vs. knockback and trip and benefits with grapples, but an un-trippable and pseudopod-equipped Amoeboid creature does not. Lots of tiny differences that can trip you up, lots of things only one gets that others might reasonably want from a conceptual standpoint...

...Instead, you could have a generic "Inorganic Form" feat or the like which would grant immunity to crits and pain and then would let you choose a certain number of selections from a menu of elemental-themed abilities like Animal Senses does. These selections would include things like "Amorphous: Can slip through very small spaces" or "Elemental Grasp: 1d4 damage during a grapple" or "Breath Weapon: 2d6 damage with a free Evocation selection applied, both of a matching energy type" or "Exceptionally Stable: Bonuses to resist combat maneuvers" and so forth. You can use that setup to recreate all of the existing Form feats, plus those form feats swapped around (like an ooze that can slip through cracks or a super-tough ice monster), plus other things like a belker with its smoke claws, which wants the "fly through cracks" part of Aerial Form but not the "can't physically interact with things" part and the "resist swords and suffocate people" part of Amoeboid Form but not the "splits like an ooze" part.
I can't see much to disagree with here- it's definitely an area I'll have to revisit. The stuff with the elementals and inner-furnace-abilities in particular was sorta kludged-together and I should really tease out the separate perks and thematic-progression more thoroughly.


One of the worst design decisions of the 3e monster system was the concept of nonabilities... ...look at the Shrieker (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/fungus.htm); why make a full stat block for a "monster" with three nonabilities and two very low stats when it could be a two-line trap?

Second, most plant monsters you'll want to duplicate (treants, myconids, orcworts, shambling mounds...) are going to have a mind and mobility, so those are just a two-feat tax on all plant monsters, leading to higher minimum HD and less ability diversity. Instead, I'd just have the Plant type be "Caps on stats, normally immobile but can uproot to move slowly" with no special treatment of certain stats or skills to avoid all those issues...

...rather than requiring 90+% of monsters to take Natural Attack at least once, I'd instead give every monster one natural weapon or appropriate manufactored weapon for free (of a type based on its body plan and fighting style) with the option to take Natural Attack or Item Graft for more, and then have a specific Noncombatant feat that takes away the free weapon and grants some other benefit...
That's hard to argue with as well. I suppose I'm just thinking by habit within a sort of simulationist/evolutionary framework where the ability to move and think independently is something that the organism has to develop on top of their basic competencies, but... if the game is balanced by default around creatures that can already move and think and have manual dexterity for free (i.e, humans), you're right, it is just paying-not-to-suck.

As it happens, and given you liked my 'puzzle box from hell' example... I was kinda thinking of rejiggering trap mechanics as a kind of 'immobile creature', so I might come back to this when I have crafting rules together.


So the epic level commoner from more than half of the capitals of 50000 person could with that feat become 1048576 persons that then could spread and form 20 such capitals?
Furthermore if the origin commoner have that feat which make it grow with age it means that most of the sub commoners will be of adult age(there is no age categories under adult)
I love these edge cases! Normal progression caps at level 10, so a maximum of 9 divisions for 512 level-1 'offspring'. And I'll probably add an infant/juvenile category for consistency with, e.g, dragons & treants, but I'd rule that once you hit 'tiny' size further division is impossible.

PairO'Dice Lost
2018-12-12, 01:28 PM
That's hard to argue with as well. I suppose I'm just thinking by habit within a sort of simulationist/evolutionary framework where the ability to move and think independently is something that the organism has to develop on top of their basic competencies, but... if the game is balanced by default around creatures that can already move and think and have manual dexterity for free (i.e, humans), you're right, it is just paying-not-to-suck.

The trick here is that not everything in D&D that's alive (or differently-animated; undead and constructs are people too :smallwink:) is a "creature" mechanically. So you can still think in that evolutionary sort of way--assuming evolution exists in your setting, which is not a given with Obad-Hai and other nature gods running around--but instead of plants going from "plant creature that can't move independently" -> "plant creature that can move independently" by taking a feat, they go from "plant trap that can't move independently" -> "plant creature that can move independently" by changing their mechanical role in the game.


As it happens, and given you liked my 'puzzle box from hell' example... I was kinda thinking of rejiggering trap mechanics as a kind of 'immobile creature', so I might come back to this when I have crafting rules together.

Go for it; there's nothing inherently wrong with immobile creatures-as-traps, as long as there's a benefit to statting them that way. A trap with (pseudo-)intelligence, moving parts, multiple attacks, special weaknesses, etc. can reasonably require a full monster statblock, where a basic "save or X happens" trap really doesn't whether it's a pit trap or a mushroom that's theoretically a creature.


So the epic level commoner from more than half of the capitals of 50000 person could with that feat become 1048576 persons that then could spread and form 20 such capitals?
Furthermore if the origin commoner have that feat which make it grow with age it means that most of the sub commoners will be of adult age(there is no age categories under adult)

Huh. In core 3e you generate random NPCs by figuring out the highest-level NPC of each class and then, for each NPC of level N, adding twice as many at N/2, four times as many at N/4, and so forth. Who knew it was because all NPCs are secretly oozes and "cities" are merely breeding grounds for multiple colonies? :smallamused:

Lacuna Caster
2018-12-17, 05:06 PM
The trick here is that not everything in D&D that's alive (or differently-animated; undead and constructs are people too :smallwink:) is a "creature" mechanically... ...there's nothing inherently wrong with immobile creatures-as-traps, as long as there's a benefit to statting them that way. A trap with (pseudo-)intelligence, moving parts, multiple attacks, special weaknesses, etc. can reasonably require a full monster statblock, where a basic "save or X happens" trap really doesn't whether it's a pit trap or a mushroom that's theoretically a creature.
Well, from my perspective the main benefit is that I can say, e.g, a Level 8 trap should be roughly 'balanced' versus Level 8 adventurers, because they'll both have the same caps on their Marksman/Close Combat/Athletics skills, and I can use feat-slots to add camouflage, mechanical complexity, extra attacks, and so forth. e.g-



Trap Feats:
Pit Trap: 10 feet deep for 1d6 damage, +1 to melee damage, stacks per 10 feet.
Crushing Surface: 2d6 crush damage/round, 4-round onset. Damage stacks.
Portcullis/Block: 3d6 damage if you're caught, blocks off passage.
Drowning/Gas: Fills one 5-ft cube per round. Speed stacks.
Projectile/Melee: Allows for up to 10 total points of weapon damage (before stats), stacks.
Poisoned: May include poison (or other alchemical product) with up to 50 GP value.
Locked Door: Bars entry to area without key unless disarmed or forced.
Trick Opening: Attack gains either Trip, Power Strike or Feint.
Fast Release: Increases attack-skill by 2 and damage by 1, reduces crush onset by 1.
Complexity: Increases disarm DC by 5.
Camouflaged: Increases perception DC by 5.
Reloading: Returns to initial configuration after 10-round delay (melee/crush only.)

Disarm and Perception DC is 10 + (trap level x 2).
Construction DC is 10 + (trap-level x 2), and takes the usual crafting time.

Traps can only invest skill-ranks in:
Close Combat or Marksmanship (for weapon attacks or pit trap)
Athletics (to crush or resist forcing attempts)



There's still the problem of appropriate CR, since a trap is typically one-shot and disarmed or bypassed rather than beaten, but it should make an apples-to-apples comparison more straightforward.

On the subject of Crafting skills... I'm trying to satisfy a couple of different design constraints and use-cases at the moment, so maybe you'd have some other thoughts on what to watch out for?

Use-case-1 is crafting items for personal use (equipment, potions, cloaks, etc.) Obviously enough, this means that tool/outfit bonuses should scale appropriately with skill-level, along with expectable earnings.
Use-case-2 is providing medical care to expedite recovery from injury, cure poison, restore ability damage, etc. Ideally this should remain useful at higher levels rather than being entirely obviated by magic.
Use-case-3 is constructing keeps and dungeons, including traps and gates and secret doors, etc. (I'm not sure how regularly adventuring PCs are likely to do this, but it seems like this would be relevant if you get into 1e/2e style property-magnate play at higher levels.)
Use-case-4 is providing consumable items like food, wine, or perhaps alchemical reagents, which means that per-unit production times need to fit with both market prices for common goods and expectable income based on wealth-by-level. (Some general rules for earning income during downtime should fit that curve, really, though again this seems more like something to fill up skill ranks for civilian NPCs.)


Now, I think I have use-case-1 roughly worked out as follows:



DC for crafting is 15 + (bonus x 5), +5 bonus max. You cannot take 10 or take 20.
Crafting time is typically 2 weeks, with an extra 2 weeks for each +1 bonus.

Raw materials typically cost 1/3 the base price of an item with no bonus.

Interruptions & Concentration:
The check needs to be repeated each week, or if you are
otherwise substantially interrupted by leaving the workshop
for more than a day. You gain a +2 bonus for each week of
progress.
If you succeed, crafting proceeds as normal.
Fail by <= 5: progress is stalled.
Fail by <= 10: set back by 1 week, need more raw materials.
Fail by > 10: crafting is ruined.

Modifiers:
Assistants: +2/+4/+6
Facilities: +2/+4/+6

Working quickly:
Decrease time by 50%.
Suffer a -1 check penalty.
Roll twice and keep the worse result.

Working carefully:
Increase time by 50%.
Gain a +3 check bonus.
Roll twice and keep better result.



Item Values:
+0: (up to) 5 GP
+1: 20 GP
+2: 80 GP
+3: 180 GP
+4: 320 GP
+5: 500 GP

Wealth By Level:
1: 100 GP
2: 270 GP
3: 900 GP
4: 2000 GP
5: 3500 GP
6: 6500 GP
7: 12,000 GP
8: 20,000 GP
9: 35,000 GP
X: 75,000 GP

Typical income per month is ~= 1/30th this value.



So a standard (+0) sword can be made by a level-1 smith with 6 ranks in Craft[Smith] and +4 Int. An epic (+5) sword can be made by a level-10 smith with 20 ranks in Craft[Smith] and +5 Int, assuming they roll a 5 or higher with a +10 bonus from extra time, facilities or assistants.

A +1 sword takes 1 months to make (50% chance), ~= 10 GP/month.
A +3 sword takes 2 months to make (50% chance), ~= 45 GP/month.
A +5 sword takes 3 months to make (50% chance), ~= 135 GP/month.

The problem here is that the level-10 character capable of making a +5 sword won't earn anything like the 2500 GP/month that one might expect from someone of their rank and station. So... I could either say that the WBL for adventurers is severely atypical, or suggest that high-level characters are expected to manage a business, estate or guild with dozens of other members and take a share of their income as revenue? I don't know, what do folks think makes sense?

noob
2018-12-18, 04:46 AM
So a smith with the best assistants and the best production ground and which is crafting carefully and have +2 int modifier and +3 from skill focus could craft a +5 sword at level 1 if he gets many 20.
On the other hand that smith would be very likely to spoil the materials.
But it means we can start getting access to the best weapons in e1(not that I know people playing in e1).
What are the requirements for taking trap feats?

PairO'Dice Lost
2018-12-18, 05:26 PM
Well, from my perspective the main benefit is that I can say, e.g, a Level 8 trap should be roughly 'balanced' versus Level 8 adventurers, because they'll both have the same caps on their Marksman/Close Combat/Athletics skills, and I can use feat-slots to add camouflage, mechanical complexity, extra attacks, and so forth. e.g-

*snip trap feat list*

There's still the problem of appropriate CR, since a trap is typically one-shot and disarmed or bypassed rather than beaten, but it should make an apples-to-apples comparison more straightforward.

Having "level X" mean the same rough challenge level for both monsters and traps is a good goal, but again, that doesn't mean that statting traps as monsters is the best or easiest way to do that. At the point where traps lack some stats, can't move, have sharp restrictions on available skills, have special lists of feats that only traps can take, are approached in different ways than most encounters, and so forth, there's not much "monster" left in the traps and you don't really gain much by trying to fit them into the monster rules.

There's also the important consideration that traps don't scale the same ways monsters do. A low-level trap that fires a dart at one target up to 30 feet away for 1d4 damage (Ref 10 negates) and a high-level trap that fires a disintegration beam at everything in a 30-foot line for 40d6 damage (Fort 30 reduces to 5d6 damage) have very different outcomes if you fall prey to them but are fundamentally the same in that if you find them you can just walk around them (or duck under the firing line or avoid the pressure plate or whatever), as opposed to monster scaling where a high-level monster with a death beam has more ways to find and follow you than a low-level one with a crossbow, is generally tougher so it can use its death beam more often than the other can use its crossbow, and so forth.

Instead, I'd fold all the trap enhancements into the crafting system you're making, both because traps, dungeon sections, and wondrous architecture have a lot in common and because it's entirely possible to enhance a trap with some time, money, and tools, unlike most monsters. "Locked Door" and "Portcullis" make more sense as separate items, rather than as add-ons to another item, trap or no; "Camouflage" and "Poisoned" are things that can be painted onto any surface, not just a trap; "Pit Trap" is something a handful of people with shovels can add in a few hours to weeks depending on depth, and really shouldn't require a feat slot (and thus a higher level) to possess.

A trap's level, then, could be based on its creator's level, or the result of skill checks, or gold invested, or some other benchmark you pick; as long as the end result is "This scything blade trap is 8th level" and you can reason about its challenge level based on that, it doesn't matter whether it's 8th level because it was created by an 8th-level artificer or because its creator rolled a 24 on her Craft check or it cost 8,000 gp or whatever.


On the subject of Crafting skills... I'm trying to satisfy a couple of different design constraints and use-cases at the moment, so maybe you'd have some other thoughts on what to watch out for?

Use-case-1 is crafting items for personal use (equipment, potions, cloaks, etc.) Obviously enough, this means that tool/outfit bonuses should scale appropriately with skill-level, along with expectable earnings.
Use-case-2 is providing medical care to expedite recovery from injury, cure poison, restore ability damage, etc. Ideally this should remain useful at higher levels rather than being entirely obviated by magic.
Use-case-3 is constructing keeps and dungeons, including traps and gates and secret doors, etc. (I'm not sure how regularly adventuring PCs are likely to do this, but it seems like this would be relevant if you get into 1e/2e style property-magnate play at higher levels.)
Use-case-4 is providing consumable items like food, wine, or perhaps alchemical reagents, which means that per-unit production times need to fit with both market prices for common goods and expectable income based on wealth-by-level. (Some general rules for earning income during downtime should fit that curve, really, though again this seems more like something to fill up skill ranks for civilian NPCs.)


There are three basic issue with equipment, healing, and the like as far as skills are concerned:

1) Skills scale linearly with investment but results scale quadratically, exponentially, or otherwise higher-than-linearly. Costs for bonus-granting items scale quadratically with the bonus (or lower in your case, but still supra-linearly), HP scales both with more HD and with higher Con, and so forth. So you need to add a dimension and make things multiplicative; maybe that's the ability to raise the DC to increase the progress like in core 3e, maybe that's a separate set of things you buy alongside skills, whatever.

2) An item's cost is not necessarily proportional to its crafting complexity or time. A trebuchet, a royal carriage, and a wooden shed are all more expensive than a wooden cart, but the trebuchet is more expensive because it's much more complex and requires more skill to craft, a carriage is more expensive because it's more fancy and requires roughly the same amount of skill to craft, and the shed is more expensive because it uses more wood but arguably requires less skill to craft. Similarly, an adamantine sword is more expensive and presumably harder to craft than a steel sword but should take roughly the same amount of time to craft, a small clockwork device will cost much less in materials than a piece of jewelry but take much longer to craft, and so forth. So you need to add another dimension and separate out the cost from the crafting DC and figure out how the two relate; maybe complexity is a skill rank minimum and time is item-specific, maybe complexity is a multiplier on gold cost to determine crafting time, whatever.

3) In general, you want level-appropriate skill checks to do level-appropriate things, and you want lower-level things to be easier/faster/cheaper/etc. If a +1 sword is appropriate at 3rd level and a +3 sword is appropriate at 9th level, you want a 3rd-level crafter to have roughly the same chance of making the +1 sword as a 9th-level crafter does to make the +3 sword, but you want the 9th-level crafter to be able to make bunches of +1 swords for a similar cost in time and gold because he's arming followers or making a living or whatever.

For your use case 1 rules, you've sort of addressed (2) in that you use the base item price rather than the enhanced item price for determining materials costs, and you've sort of addressed (3) with the ability to work quickly, but beyond that you're still looking at a minimum of weeks of work with no way to reduce it beyond that 50% discount, having a +25 bonus vs. DC 20 doesn't really give you anything vs. having a +20 bonus (in both cases you can work quickly and still automatically make the DC, but that's it, no time or cost reductions), and this doesn't take into account any items beyond pure +X items.

Speaking of (1) and (3) the timing here is probably a non-starter:


So a standard (+0) sword can be made by a level-1 smith with 6 ranks in Craft[Smith] and +4 Int. An epic (+5) sword can be made by a level-10 smith with 20 ranks in Craft[Smith] and +5 Int, assuming they roll a 5 or higher with a +10 bonus from extra time, facilities or assistants.

A +1 sword takes 1 months to make (50% chance), ~= 10 GP/month.
A +3 sword takes 2 months to make (50% chance), ~= 45 GP/month.
A +5 sword takes 3 months to make (50% chance), ~= 135 GP/month.

99% of PCs are not going to have a month of downtime to spend on anything, much less 2 or 3 months. It's tempting for homebrew crafting systems to give "epic" items a long crafting time so they feel like they're "worth it," but in the fiction RPGs are emulating, such legendary items generally either take a short amount of time because the crafter is awesome/they work night and day to speed things up/they use magic/etc. or it takes a long time but the plot stops to let them do it because in single-author fiction you can just do that. In an RPG context, if it's faster for a PC to kill some bad guys, take 500 gp, and buy a +5 sword than it is to craft one himself, he'll probably just do that, at which point investing in crafting skills becomes a trap option, so if you want it not to be a trap option you have to make it work better with PC timescales.

Ideally, if a standard 1st-level smith can make a standard +0 sword in 2 weeks, an epic 15th-level smith should be able to make an epic +5 sword in 2 weeks as well, and should be able to make a standard +0 sword in, say, 1 day tops. Because really, the standard you care about is not "How long does this +X sword take to forge in a vacuum?" (well, in a smithy, actually :smallwink:) but rather "How long does a level-appropriate sword take to forge for this particular crafter?" and "How long does it take this crafter to make a plain ol' sword so he has a sword at all after he lost his last one?" and "How fast can this crafter pump out multiple swords to arm a militia if he doesn't care about quality?"

Contrast this setup to the core 3e system--which gets a lot of flak, but honestly "make checks to build up progress points and you're done when you meet the quota" works quite nicely, it just requires decoupling cost and complexity and adding in more scaling, as mentioned above. In that, a basic longsword costs 15 gp and a basic 1st-level smith (4 ranks, +0 Int) can craft one in 5 days on average (progress quota of 150 sp, DC 15, gets a check result of 14 with a roll of 10, 14*15=210 sp progress per week), which lines up nicely with the 3-5 days it historically took to forge a sword. It would take him 2 months (just over 8 full weeks) to craft himself a masterwork longsword, though, given its cost of 315 gp (15 gp of which takes him 5 days as above, and 300gp of which takes 7.5 weeks, with a quota of 3000 sp, a Craft DC of 20, and a progress of 20*20=400 sp every week), and that's if he's lucky enough to roll 16 every time because he can't make the DC taking 10. That seems to scale roughly like your system, with shorter times on the low end and longer times later due to differing prices.

But compare that to a more competent 1st-level 3e smith with, say, 4 ranks in Craft, +1 Int, +2 masterwork tools, and Skill Focus (Craft), for a nice even +10 modifier. He can craft a basic sword in 3.5 days, enough for 2 per week, and takes roughly the same time to craft the masterwork sword as the basic smith does but can take 10 and so has no possibility of losing materials or taking longer. Then take a look at a 10th-level master smith with a modifier of +24 (13 ranks, +4 Int, +3 Skill Focus, +2 masterwork tools, +2 Aid Another from an apprentice): he can churn out basic swords at a rate of 5-6 per week by taking the "voluntarily increase the DC by +10" option, and the masterwork sword only takes him 3 weeks because he's just That Darn Awesome.

So I'd definitely suggest either scaling the time required to craft an item to the check result and have more options for speeding things up, or explicitly pegging it to the skill of the crafter (with something like "N weeks per +1 minus X days per rank in Craft" or similar) or the item's cost (like how 3e magic items have a flat 1 day per 1,000gp crafting time, much faster than the mundane crafting rules would allow).


The problem here is that the level-10 character capable of making a +5 sword won't earn anything like the 2500 GP/month that one might expect from someone of their rank and station. So... I could either say that the WBL for adventurers is severely atypical, or suggest that high-level characters are expected to manage a business, estate or guild with dozens of other members and take a share of their income as revenue? I don't know, what do folks think makes sense?

Tying WBL and monthly income--even just for DM-side estimations rather than a hard "if you have ranks in Craft here's what you get for income" rule--is, to be blunt, a terrible idea, for several reasons:

1) WBL is just a rule of thumb for creating higher-than-1st-level characters (it's the average value of the average treasure tables for the average set of encounters, minus a percentage for assumed consumables use) not some sort of holy writ to which all organically-leveled adventurers must strictly adhere. Swings in wealth where you e.g. fight a Juiblex cult with lots of treasure-less oozes and demons for a few levels and then slay a dragon and take its hoard and are flush with cash for a few levels are normal and expected.

2) Income and skill level are uncorrelated: Volund the Smith may be capable of easily churning out 5 +5 swords at 500gp a pop, but he's not getting 2,500gp per month in income unless he find 5 buyers for all of those swords in one month, and the same the next month, and the same for every month after that, and going by your existing crafting rules he can't even finish 1 +5 sword in fewer than 3 months. Plus you have things like high-level paladins and low-level nobles, where the paladin wants high-cost gear but has taken a vow of poverty and so is given those items by grateful people he helps and has no income worth mentioning, while the minor noble can have a lavish palace and a treasury full of platinum pieces but also has little income because the taxes he collects roughly balance out with his expenses and he wouldn't use it to buy a +1 sword in any case.

3) Adventuring and holding a job are directly opposed. You only need +5 swords if you're spending your days slaying vampire lords and demon cultists, and if you're doing that you don't have the time to make +5 swords in the first place. If you're not spending your days adventuring, you can make those +5 swords but don't have any minimum gear or wealth requirements you need to meet to not die. Plus, no one but adventurers can afford the small mountain of gold needed to buy a +3 sword because the devs didn't want anyone but mid-level adventurers to be buying them and they wanted low-level adventurers to have to find them as loot.

4) WBL doesn't take into account any expenses: An adventurer doesn't need to buy a smithy, feed his family, repair his anvil and wagon, buy raw materials, pay rent to the local baron, or the like, so he can afford to get his WBL in large chunks while a smith needs a smaller but more reliable income, regardless of his level.

So I'd say any kind of income rules should go under Profession rules or the like and be totally divorced from class, level, or other skills. A smith or alchemist should have an income based on his sustainable output, not the best thing he can craft; a medic or priest should have an income based on his value to the community, not the most HP he can heal at once.

Lacuna Caster
2018-12-18, 07:26 PM
...Okay, that's, uh, quite a bit to digest. I'm probably gonna be busy for the next week or two, so I might not get the time to visit this properly until the new year, but as always I do appreciate the feedback. I would make some general remarks for now:

* The power curve for this system is probably closer to being linear than in regular D&D, so I'm quite happy to ditch the WBL guidelines entirely in favour of something less runaway, though I would suspect that a level-10 noble is statistically likely to be richer than a level-1 noble.

* I don't have any great objection to fixed crafting times if that fits the idiom, but by default I would lean toward (https://www.scribd.com/document/168668516/Ron-Edwards-Setting-Dissection?campaign=SkimbitLtd) a campaign style where significant, potentially months-long downtime does occur (the seasonal/annual cycle from Mouse Guard or Pendragon might be a hybrid example.)

* I'm curious if there are there any plausible adventurer-related considerations for casks of wine of bushels of grain, or should those costs just disappear as rounding errors once you get a level or two under your belt? I'm wondering if the copper-piece cost-listings for mundane starting equipment serve any function if you don't want to play dirt poor village peasants struggling through the winter. (Nothing wrong with that, mind, but it's perhaps not the core focus here.)

In any case, I'm hopeful that once the crafting/knowledge skills are done, I can adapt the rules for tracking/stealth/athletics with relative ease and that'll be it, aside from spit and polish.

olskool
2018-12-26, 09:52 PM
I think a simple DC 10 "To Cast A Spell" skill could work (in D&D5e anyway). I would do it like this...

Take the CASTER'S LEVEL and subtract the LEVEL at which that caster wishes to cast the spell in question at (Casters CANNOT cast at a level higher than they are). You then SUBTRACT this number from the DC of 10. Thus, if a 5th Level caster wanted to cast a Spell at 3rd Level, he would subtract 2 from the DC of 10 giving him an 8+ to succeed in his casting. To his roll he would add his PROFICIENCY BONUS and any BONUS for INT. If that 5th Level caster had a 16 INT and cast his spell with a Bonus Modifier of +3 (INT) and Proficiency Modifier of +3 (5th Level), he would only fail on a roll of 1 or 2. This is not a bad chance of success (90%).

We have been using this for our Wizard's Ritual Casting when in a Dungeon. IF he casts in the quiet and safety of a private secure place, his DC is 5+. If we are outside but not in the vicinity of a potential enemy, his DC is 10+. If we are in an actual dungeon near bad guys, his DC is 15+ to cast a Ritual Spell from his book. This system works just fine after half a dozen sessions of play.

noob
2018-12-27, 05:28 AM
I think a simple DC 10 "To Cast A Spell" skill could work (in D&D5e anyway). I would do it like this...

Take the CASTER'S LEVEL and subtract the LEVEL at which that caster wishes to cast the spell in question at (Casters CANNOT cast at a level higher than they are). You then SUBTRACT this number from the DC of 10. Thus, if a 5th Level caster wanted to cast a Spell at 3rd Level, he would subtract 2 from the DC of 10 giving him an 8+ to succeed in his casting. To his roll he would add his PROFICIENCY BONUS and any BONUS for INT. If that 5th Level caster had a 16 INT and cast his spell with a Bonus Modifier of +3 (INT) and Proficiency Modifier of +3 (5th Level), he would only fail on a roll of 1 or 2. This is not a bad chance of success (90%).

We have been using this for our Wizard's Ritual Casting when in a Dungeon. IF he casts in the quiet and safety of a private secure place, his DC is 5+. If we are outside but not in the vicinity of a potential enemy, his DC is 10+. If we are in an actual dungeon near bad guys, his DC is 15+ to cast a Ritual Spell from his book. This system works just fine after half a dozen sessions of play.
You see the problem is that in dnd 5e either you actually need levels in a caster class to have the right for skill magic or everyone can cast spells without being a caster because it is easy to get an arbitrary proficiency and tons of people max either charisma or wisdom furthermore thanks to bounded accuracy it would end up being "anyone can be a great caster without much focus in it"
On the other hand if you already played gishes that magically progressed two classes at once before then it fits fine.

PairO'Dice Lost
2018-12-28, 01:18 PM
* The power curve for this system is probably closer to being linear than in regular D&D, so I'm quite happy to ditch the WBL guidelines entirely in favour of something less runaway, though I would suspect that a level-10 noble is statistically likely to be richer than a level-1 noble.
[...]
* I'm curious if there are there any plausible adventurer-related considerations for casks of wine of bushels of grain, or should those costs just disappear as rounding errors once you get a level or two under your belt? I'm wondering if the copper-piece cost-listings for mundane starting equipment serve any function if you don't want to play dirt poor village peasants struggling through the winter. (Nothing wrong with that, mind, but it's perhaps not the core focus here.)

So, WBL guidelines have an interesting relationship to power curves, because it all depends on how much you can "buy" power. In 1e, PCs generally ended up with a lot more wealth than a 3e character, but could never have more wealth than expected for their level because every 1 gp worth of treasure they successfully acquired turned into 1 XP for that character. Wealth thus tended to be used for buying keeps, hiring armies, and so forth--including running trading caravans and such with the commodities you mention.

In 2e they dropped the 1 gp = 1 XP rule, so 2e PCs had comparatively more wealth for their level than in 1e since you didn't automatically level up at a certain amount of gold in your coffers, but like 1e you couldn't really buy magic items or any other direct upgrade to character power, so wealth was still spent on non-direct-personal-power stuff. In 3e, you could buy magic items much more freely, so everyone did that and keeps, armies, and such generally fell by the wayside--and 3e PCs tended to have comparatively less wealth for their level as DMs tended to worry about giving them too much treasure, or they'd give a good amount but PCs would sell it off much more often than they would in AD&D because now they could buy more appropriate treasure with the gold they got back.

Then you take a look at 4e, where PCs tend to be swimming in gold because you can't buy keeps and hirelings and such like in AD&D, and while you can buy magic items like in 3e everyone wants such specific magic items that your 15th-level character might want all 5th-level items and exponential magic item prices means he's just selling off every new item to have a pile of gold to sleep in.

What's the point of all that? Wealth doesn't automatically correlate with power or with level, and the extent that it does depends on what you can do with that wealth for advancement, both vertically and horizontally. No edition of D&D requires a minimum level of wealth for PCs at any given level (even 3e; the math doesn't actually require or assume the Big Six items, everyone just buys them because they're the most obvious and efficient power-up), and different editions of D&D break down in different ways if the PCs come into 1 million gp at 1st level, so it's entirely up to you how you want to deal with wealth. If your game ends up being balanced only at a very specific amount of wealth in the PCs' hands, you'll want hard WBL rules la 4e; if it ends up being mostly balanced most of the time if things aren't too ridiculous, you'll want WBL guidelines la 3e; if it ends up being fine no matter how many armies and magic swords the PCs have, you don't need them at all.


* I don't have any great objection to fixed crafting times if that fits the idiom, but by default I would lean toward (https://www.scribd.com/document/168668516/Ron-Edwards-Setting-Dissection?campaign=SkimbitLtd) a campaign style where significant, potentially months-long downtime does occur (the seasonal/annual cycle from Mouse Guard or Pendragon might be a hybrid example.)

If that's the case (and I definitely like that kind of enforced/encouraged downtime; my current 3e campaign has gone on for roughly three in-game years now), you need to write that into the rules, you can't simply assume that most campaigns that will be run that way. Whether it's a hard requirement (seasonal phases like those games or Ars Magica, level-up training times like in AD&D, etc.) or soft incentives (downtime rules that allow all classes to gain power in some way, robust trading/army minigames that work on longer timescales and grant specific power-ups, etc.), you'll want to lay out your expected amounts of downtime and how flexible those amounts are.


I think a simple DC 10 "To Cast A Spell" skill could work (in D&D5e anyway). I would do it like this...

Making skill-based spellcasting in 5e is generally a bad idea, for a few reasons. Firstly, as noob mentioned, the skill math is quite frankly totally nonfunctional at modeling "an Xth-level character can reliably do this thing, while an [X-N]th level character has a hard time and an [X+N]th character has an easy time." A 20th-level character maxes out at +6 proficiency and +5 stat (barring a magic item that bypasses the stat cap), so a world-famous archmage is still failing the "there are enemies nearby" DC 20% of the time like a chump and it's much worse at the mid levels. Plus, 5e functions primarily on spell level rather than caster level for Pelor-only-knows-why, so there's no reason not to always cast a spell at the minimum possible CL to lower the DC.

Secondly, 5e has little enough resource management for spells that adding a skill check doesn't get you much. The new spell preparation mechanic means you have tons of spells available and can cast them from lots of slots, so there's no risk of "Oh no, I failed to cast the one fireball I have prepared today!" or the like, and in any case there are already concentration checks to do that when casting in combat. Ritual spells can be cast over and over again, so a failed check just means you need to spend more time, and there are already random encounter checks to mess with casters trying to use ritual spells. The skill check basically comes down to adding an arbitrary 10ish% failure chance for every spell for no reason, and that's really unnecessary.

It may work fine for your group, but it's not good in the general case. And even if it were, the 5e math and 3e math are completely different so that basic structure wouldn't transfer at all to what Lacuna is doing.

Lacuna Caster
2019-01-19, 01:37 PM
So... belatedly getting into the groove here after some time to digest over the holidays. I'm gonna have to comb over the last few posts again, but let me see if I can summarise the key points that Pair O'Dice was discussing:


* Monsters are quadratic and traps are linear (i.e, single attack, no mobility, etc.) Fair point so far as CR/XP allotments are concerned, I guess. Uh... not sure what the solution is, though I guess I could just draw up a table with typical reflex/disarm DCs, or something.

* An item's raw-material cost might not be dependent on time or complexity, so that should be separate from price factors- Okay, fair point, but the market price of labour generally will scale with time and complexity, so I think that relationship holds.

* High-level crafters should be able to crank out low-level items faster, while the skill places a cap on maximum quality- okay, touched on this earlier, but sounds fine to me.

* PCs are quadratic but skill-results are linear- not sure I understand what you're saying? There's still a sort of expectable enhancement-bonus associated with adventurers of a particular level, right, so should skill-results *not* be linear in that respect?

* Having regular, extensive downtime could be good- sure, I can write that into the 'campaign advice' section or other high-level mechanics.

* On Wealth By Level- I'm aware that WBL is more a set of guidelines than holy writ, but I am trying to set up the system so that it is at least *plausible* that an NPC of such-and-such a level could organically accumulate that degree of wealth by practicing such-and-such a profession on a 9-5 basis for 20 years, or whatever seems apt. Deviations from that norm can be handled accordingly.

* I'm not sure any of this answers my question about mundane item costs?


I'll revisit this over the next couple of days with some new math, and see if I can't start tying up loose ends.

PairO'Dice Lost
2019-01-22, 06:17 AM
* Monsters are quadratic and traps are linear (i.e, single attack, no mobility, etc.) Fair point so far as CR/XP allotments are concerned, I guess. Uh... not sure what the solution is, though I guess I could just draw up a table with typical reflex/disarm DCs, or something.

Pretty much, yeah. 3e was on the right track for having basically a build-your-own-trap setup (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/traps.htm) where various factors increased the DCs and costs, it just had a few issues in the implementation details (the biggest one being CRs for spell-based traps).


* An item's raw-material cost might not be dependent on time or complexity, so that should be separate from price factors- Okay, fair point, but the market price of labour generally will scale with time and complexity, so I think that relationship holds.

* High-level crafters should be able to crank out low-level items faster, while the skill places a cap on maximum quality- okay, touched on this earlier, but sounds fine to me.

Market price correlates with time and complexity, it's the crafting time that doesn't necessarily correlate. Separating things out so one 10,000gp item might have High complexity and be craftable in 1 week and another might have Low complexity but might take 1 month to craft both helps with verisimilitude (the "Why does an adamantine dagger take the same time and effort to craft as a cottage?" issue) and also you vary time without varying complexity so high-level crafters can do low-level stuff faster without making it easier for low-level crafters to craft higher-level stuff.


* PCs are quadratic but skill-results are linear- not sure I understand what you're saying? There's still a sort of expectable enhancement-bonus associated with adventurers of a particular level, right, so should skill-results *not* be linear in that respect?

Basically, the skill modifiers scale roughly linearly with level (1 rank per level, plus whatever per-level miscellaneous bonus expectation you have), but what you want to do with skills scales more.

For instance, a common houserule is to let the Heal skill heal hit points. That's great, and helps reduce reliance on divine casters, but when setting DCs you have to keep in mind that a 1st-level healer has somewhere in the range of +4 to +8 Heal (max ranks plus +0 to +4 Wis) and partymates with 6-16 HP (from a wizard with Con 14 to a barbarian with Con 18) while a 10th-level healer has somewhere in the range of +27 to +33 Heal (max ranks plus +0 to +6 Wis plus +4 miscellaneous and let's throw in a +10 competence item just 'cause) but his partymates can reasonably have anywhere from 46 HP (wizard, Con 14, average HP rolls) to 153 HP (barbarian, Con 22 while raging, above-average HP rolls).

If you set HP healed proportional to the DC, something that lets that 1st-level healer heal his partymates to full or near-full HP (e.g. HP healed = check result - 5 or check result/2 or something) is going to be worthless for the 10th-level healer (he can't even heal the frail wizard to 3/4 HP!), while something that works on a proportional level (e.g. DC 20 to heal 1/4 target's HP, DC 25 to heal 1/2 target's HP, etc.) would have to scale fast enough so that healing isn't trivial at higher levels and doesn't render cure X wounds obsolete, but in turn would be useless for low-level characters because they can't hit those DCs reliably.

Same with Craft DCs (3e results are linear check result * DC, crafting costs for high-level items grow exponentially), Knowledge DCs (it's a straight 5-points-per-piece-of-info increase but low-level monsters have 1-2 relevant things to know and high-level monsters have dozens), etc. Note that the problem with 3e Diplomacy is exactly that this isn't taken into account: the DCs are flat to let low-level characters diplomacize people, but the benefits for diplomacizing a great wyrm red dragon and exponentially greater than those for diplomacizing a kobold so the DCs should scale supra-linearly.


* On Wealth By Level- I'm aware that WBL is more a set of guidelines than holy writ, but I am trying to set up the system so that it is at least *plausible* that an NPC of such-and-such a level could organically accumulate that degree of wealth by practicing such-and-such a profession on a 9-5 basis for 20 years, or whatever seems apt. Deviations from that norm can be handled accordingly.

Well, the disconnect there is that if anyone could accumulate adventurer-level wealth through just practicing a normal occupation, why would anyone risk their lives adventuring (unless they're really bored and/or suicidal, I suppose)? Anyone approaching that amount of wealth would presumably have to have done some adventuring in their youth, or gotten an amazing commission, or inherited from a rich relative, or something other than working a 9-to-5 for 20 years.

So you probably want to aim for your NPC income levels to only get someone to 1/4 to 1/3 of adventurer WBL, leaving the rest for those extraordinary sources of wealth. Joe Town Blacksmith might be a legendary smith able to craft legendary blades, but unless he forgets Excalibur Jr. for some rich noble the guys who went and plundered a forgotten tomb are going to end up with more gold than he has.


* I'm not sure any of this answers my question about mundane item costs?

I sort of tangentially addressed it, in that those low-level mundane goods only matter if you make them matter. In some editions and campaigns, mundane items are useful in adventuring all the way up to mid levels thanks to good tactics and a dungeon-based context, and mundane goods are valuable in large quantities because the party is carting around shiploads and caravanloads of wealth already from Greyhawking dungeons; in other editions and campaigns, no one cares about mundane items past 3rd level or so because magical gear obsoletes them, and commodities are purely background flavor.

If you're aiming for campaigns that involve lots of downtime, chances are those campaigns are going to involve more trade, armies and/or hirelings, realm management, and other "spend time for power" aspects of the game, in which case you might want to make those things more relevant. But, conversely, you might want to abstract things more so individual mercenaries and bushels of wheat never come up. It's entirely up to what you want the game to focus on during downtime and what level of detail you want to deal with.

Lacuna Caster
2019-01-23, 07:38 PM
Pretty much, yeah. 3e was on the right track for having basically a build-your-own-trap setup (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/traps.htm) where various factors increased the DCs and costs, it just had a few issues in the implementation details (the biggest one being CRs for spell-based traps).
Could you elaborate on that a bit? I think the rules I have set up for thaumaturgy already enabled magical traps of varying configurations, but how would you set up CR?


Market price correlates with time and complexity, it's the crafting time that doesn't necessarily correlate. Separating things out so one 10,000gp item might have High complexity and be craftable in 1 week and another might have Low complexity but might take 1 month to craft both helps with verisimilitude (the "Why does an adamantine dagger take the same time and effort to craft as a cottage?" issue) and also you vary time without varying complexity so high-level crafters can do low-level stuff faster without making it easier for low-level crafters to craft higher-level stuff.
Sure, I think I get the idea.


For instance, a common houserule is to let the Heal skill heal hit points. That's great, and helps reduce reliance on divine casters, but when setting DCs you have to keep in mind that a 1st-level healer has somewhere in the range of +4 to +8 Heal (max ranks plus +0 to +4 Wis) and partymates with 6-16 HP (from a wizard with Con 14 to a barbarian with Con 18) while a 10th-level healer has somewhere in the range of +27 to +33 Heal (max ranks plus +0 to +6 Wis plus +4 miscellaneous and let's throw in a +10 competence item just 'cause) but his partymates can reasonably have anywhere from 46 HP (wizard, Con 14, average HP rolls) to 153 HP (barbarian, Con 22 while raging, above-average HP rolls).

If you set HP healed proportional to the DC, something that lets that 1st-level healer heal his partymates to full or near-full HP (e.g. HP healed = check result - 5 or check result/2 or something) is going to be worthless for the 10th-level healer (he can't even heal the frail wizard to 3/4 HP!), while something that works on a proportional level (e.g. DC 20 to heal 1/4 target's HP, DC 25 to heal 1/2 target's HP, etc.) would have to scale fast enough so that healing isn't trivial at higher levels and doesn't render cure X wounds obsolete, but in turn would be useless for low-level characters because they can't hit those DCs reliably.

Same with Craft DCs (3e results are linear check result * DC, crafting costs for high-level items grow exponentially), Knowledge DCs (it's a straight 5-points-per-piece-of-info increase but low-level monsters have 1-2 relevant things to know and high-level monsters have dozens), etc. Note that the problem with 3e Diplomacy is exactly that this isn't taken into account: the DCs are flat to let low-level characters diplomacize people, but the benefits for diplomacizing a great wyrm red dragon and exponentially greater than those for diplomacizing a kobold so the DCs should scale supra-linearly.
Well, one imagines that diplomacy should be an opposed skill check in some sense, so the great wyrm should have enough skill points invested in sense motive or bluff or or intimidate or whatever to up the DC. But I can bear the other points in mind.


Well, the disconnect there is that if anyone could accumulate adventurer-level wealth through just practicing a normal occupation, why would anyone risk their lives adventuring (unless they're really bored and/or suicidal, I suppose)?
Fair point, I suppose. Means I can scale the target numbers down by maybe a factor of 10, so that might suit the purpose, actually.


I sort of tangentially addressed it, in that those low-level mundane goods only matter if you make them matter. In some editions and campaigns, mundane items are useful in adventuring all the way up to mid levels thanks to good tactics and a dungeon-based context, and mundane goods are valuable in large quantities because the party is carting around shiploads and caravanloads of wealth already from Greyhawking dungeons...
Oh, mundane items could be useful, certainly, but the relevant constraint here might just be encumbrance rather than pricing. And if you're trading in bulk, I'm not really familiar with any standardised rules for handling that at the appropriate level of abstraction.

PairO'Dice Lost
2019-01-24, 03:37 AM
Could you elaborate on that a bit? I think the rules I have set up for thaumaturgy already enabled magical traps of varying configurations, but how would you set up CR?

I was referring to the fact that they provide a bunch of piecemeal DC and price modifiers for mechanical traps for things like search DC, trigger type, and so forth, but magic traps were just costed by spell level instead of breaking things down the same way (e.g. varying price for single-target vs. AoE spells, or damaging vs. disabling vs. SoD spells, or the like), so you end up with a Poisoned Spike Pit Trap (pressure trigger, manually resettable, easy to save against/avoid/disable for its level, low damage) and a Wail of the Banshee Trap (alarm trigger, auto-resetting, hard to save against/avoid/disable for its level, instant death) both being CR 10 because the mechanical one uses an actual system of more or less well-thought-out calculations to arrive at CR and the magical one is just "CR = spell level + 1."

So I was saying that you probably want to follow a similar approach to that, figuring out CR and price and such based on individual trap details rather than just a generic DC table, but that you'll want to handle spell traps the same way you handle mechanical traps. Which, given the modular spellcasting setup you're using, should hopefully be fairly straightforward.


Well, one imagines that diplomacy should be an opposed skill check in some sense, so the great wyrm should have enough skill points invested in sense motive or bluff or or intimidate or whatever to up the DC. But I can bear the other points in mind.

That's part of it, certainly. But you can't necessarily just make it a straight-up opposed check to do anything, because then you can't have e.g. a commoner petitioning a baron for aid against a goblin attack, because the commoner is 1st-level with no Diplomacy ranks and the noble is 10th level with great Sense Motive and the commoner can't convince the baron of anything he isn't immediately inclined to agree with.

That's why I suggested originally that to deal with super-linear scaling you generally want to add a dimension somehow. For crafting, you can address crafting complexity and crafting time separately; for healing, difficulty of healing something and amount/degree healed; for diplomacy, difficulty of convincing someone and, say, how closely the diplomat and/or the deal align with the target's goals. Being able to vary two axes independently like that helps limit the need for ridiculous scaling to achieve both low- and high-level results with the same skills while preventing low-level characters from easily achieving high-level results, and it helps when handling corner cases (e.g. it's really hard for a low-level person to convince the mid-level baron to do something he really doesn't want to do, but a stranger convincing him to do something he's on the fence about or a close friend convincing him to do something he's opposed to is easier).


Oh, mundane items could be useful, certainly, but the relevant constraint here might just be encumbrance rather than pricing. And if you're trading in bulk, I'm not really familiar with any standardised rules for handling that at the appropriate level of abstraction.

For that, you'll probably want to look for some third-party books on the topic. There are some that specifically address trade, mercantile expansion, and so on (A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe, Strongholds & Followers, etc.), and some OSR books that happen to address it because domain play is big for OSR games (ACKS being the only good one I know of offhand).

Lacuna Caster
2019-02-03, 09:15 AM
Thanks for the feedback. Regrettably, it's looking like I'm gonna have to park this project for at least a couple of months, though, so I might not even get the chance to compile the rules properly.

Hope it helps to spark a couple of ideas, though. Ciao for now.