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Zhorn
2018-12-16, 09:44 AM
For adding into your games an item damage system that works off the same style of mechanics as some monsters from the Monster Manual (see references).
Operates much like a crit/fumble system it that it triggers on natural 1's and 20's, with the intent that adding additional rolls to the game is kept to a minimum.
In low magic setting* it can also function as a method to consistently chew through your group's equipment, especially on those long dungeon crawls or wilderness expeditions, where scavenging gear and making use of professions is encouraged.
A potential use could also be if you want to give out a powerful magic item, but don't want it around forever (Crystal Vorpar Sword to the rescue!), though I would consider this a side effect rather than the main intention of the system. My personal interest is this system is that equipment damage seemed like an interesting mechanic to utilize considering it existed of a few select monsters, but isn't used anywhere else (at least not in the same consistent form). Plus experiences with a former DM who would just declare player's items to break without player input solely for their own malicious enjoyment struck me the wrong way, and how could it have been done in a way that I as a player would have felt as fair. Knowing rules on penalties for degrading gear and the numbers for the effective durability of items are already in the books, so no need to reinvent the wheel, just needed fair way to apply it.

References:
Black Pudding ability "Corrosive Form." (MM p241)
Grey Ooze ability "Corrode Metal." (MM p243)
Rust Monster abilities "Rust Metal." and "Antennae." (MM p262)
Object Armor Class (DMG p246)

Durability Table**


Substance Mundane Common Uncommon Rare Very Rare Legendary
Cloth, Paper, Rope 11 12 13 14 15 16
Fur, Hide, Leather 12 13 14 15 16 17
Crystal, Glass, Ice 13 14 15 16 17 18
Bone, Wood 15 16 17 18 19 20
Stone 17 18 19 20 21 22
Iron/Steel 19 20 21 22 23 24
Mithral 21 22 23 24 25 26
Adamantine 23 24 25 26 27 28
Durability of exotic materials are at Dungeon Master's discretion.
Magic Items have a +1 to their durability value per tier of rarity (represented in the table).**

Durability Roll
Unlike regular objects, weapons, armor and combat related items such as an arcane focus are made to withstand rough usage, and as such operate differently to the regular rules for breaking objects such as doors and furniture.
On a roll of either a natural 1 or a natural 20 is made, the equipment being used or effected are subjected to a durability roll once the effects of the initial attack or skill check are resolved.

d20 + Attack's Ability Score Modifier vs Object Durability

If the roll equals or exceeds the object's durability it then causes 1 point of durability damage to the object. This is representing the items taking an unusual mistreatment, such as a blade striking stone, armor being punctured at a weak point, or magical energy backfiring on an arcane focus. The roll can be ignored if the durability value is impossible for the check to meet (example: Rare adamantine magic items are impossible to break with anything less than a +6 ability score modifier)

Attack rolls of natural 20 effect items/armor being struck by an attack.
Attack rolls of natural 1 effect items/weapons being used in an attack.
Saving throws of natural 1 effect items worn or carried that would logically take the brunt of the attack.
Skill check rolls of natural 1 effect items/tools being used in the check.

Creative Judification:

Advantage on the roll.
If the object being damaged if being damaged if made of a considerably weaker material than the object it is being struck by (example: a wooden shield being struck by an adamantine axe), or is affected by a damage type that that would logically be more damaging (example: a wooden focus used for a fire spell), then the roll is made with advantage.

Disadvantage on the roll.
If the object being damaged if being damaged if made of a considerably stronger material than the object it is being struck by (example: a mithral shield being struck by an bone club), or is affected by a damage type that that would logically be less damaging (example: leather armor subjected bludgeoning damage) then the roll is made with disadvantage.

Damage Immunity.
No roll is required if the object is being subjected to a condition that would logically cause no damage to it (example: rolling a 1 when drawing on a bow string) or when subjected to damage types that it would logically be immune to (example: poison damage splashing against medal armor)

Equipment Damage

Damaged Weapons and Focuses
Weapons and Focuses taking damage receive a cumulative 1 penalty to damage rolls. If the penalty drops to 5, the item is destroyed.

Damaged Armor
Armor and shields taking damage receive a cumulative 1 penalty to the AC it offers. Armor reduced to an AC of 10 or a shield that drops to a +0 bonus is destroyed.

Repairing Equipment
With access to appropriate tools and supplies, as part of a short rest, a character can attempt to reduce an equipment's penalty by 1 with a DC of 15 plus the item's current penalty level.
Depending on the level of damage, an appropriately skilled tradesperson can repair a damaged item to fully quality for a percentage of the items cost (times and cost subject to Dungeon Master's discretion)

Corrosive Damage
Damage to weapons and armor caused by corrosive effects is considered permanent and cannot be repaired outside of replacing the damaged component entirely.

TL;DR version
Roll a 1 or a 20? DM declares what item is being effected.
What is it made of? DMG p246 has a table for that
Is it magical? Add +1 for each tier of item rarity
d20 + Ability Score Modifier vs Object Durability
Item either received -1 penalty or didn't.
Shields break at AC 0, Armor breaks at AC 10, everything else breaks when the penalty is -5

Notes:
* It has been advised that Mending (PHB p259) can be used to circumvent much of this system. I don't see it as completely negating it, but will admit that a generous DM ruling on how the cantrip is applied can repair almost any damage, and it is advisable that if you want to use this rule system then usage of Mending should be strictly interpreted via the wording of the spell.
- All pieces of a broken/damaged item must accounted for for the cantrip to be successful, as it does not generate new material.
- The cantrip repairs a single break or tear, no larger than 1 foot is any dimension
- The cantrip cannot restore magical properties when repairing a magic item
(suggested ruling: The magical effects that a magic item retains can only handle being repaired by the Mending cantrip so many times before becoming a mundane item. Each repair with mending drops the items rarity by one tier, with items loosing their magical bonuses if they drop below common rarity)
** If different numbers for the different tiers of magic items is a concern for you, instead just the Object Armor Class table (DMG p246), and add a flat +3 if the item is magical when determining durability.

CardboardDragon
2018-12-16, 10:48 AM
I like this system a lot - I've wanted to introduce equipment damage as an actual, present threat to my games in the past, but the systems I thought of to accomplish that ended up making very little mechanical sense. And I like the way that the durability tables for different types of equipment are balanced so that the strongest materials with significant magical enchantment are just out of reach without extraordinary magic on the part of the attacker.

MeimuHakurei
2018-12-16, 02:03 PM
Isn't this just another one of those house rules that add realism to the game in a way that heavily hampers martial characters while casters don't give a damn?

Zhorn
2018-12-16, 08:00 PM
Isn't this just another one of those house rules that add realism to the game in a way that heavily hampers martial characters while casters don't give a damn?

This is why I included

or magical energy backfiring on an arcane focus.
Which could also be applied to component pouches, spellbooks, etc. if you like. Suddenly the best warlock cantrip ever is on par with the same risks a fighter is facing.

This system is meant to be modular in that it's simple to slot into to a game without massive changes (hence basing it on mechanics that are already present as the effect a few monsters have), but as to what it effects there is plenty of room for DM fiat.

Erloas
2018-12-16, 09:13 PM
It seems like a lot of extra bookkeeping for very little effect. It sounds like, in effect, you're just forcing some characters to take craft skills. It also does just sound like an anti-martial system because most casters get very low level mending spells that would fix most things. Most spells don't have a d20 roll associated with them either, so you're either going to have to roll for no other reason, or you're going to see casters doing fewer ray or touch type spells.

I'm not even sure what this would feed back to on many casters. Wizards for instance only use their spellbooks in the morning, so it wouldn't make any sense to feed back to the book, and many divine or spontaneous casters don't have direct items. Feeding back onto a spell component pouch... so they carry a couple extra 5gp/2lb pouches. You can get a couple platinum holy symbols for less than a +1 weapon. Unless there are +5 spell component pouches and holy symbols that I don't know about.

For armor vs attacks, yeah, that's going to affect everyone, except that your fighter is going to take a dozen attacks for each one the wizard takes so just the probability is going to screw him over there.

I can see wanted to take a campaign into a much more survival aspect, but really you've almost got to start with a different base system than d20, it just isn't really designed for that sort of thing. At the very least you're going to have to change a lot of basic assumptions of the system.

Right now it just looks like adding another couple rolls to many actions and more tables to look up and things to track and forget about.

Really it seems if you want to control items in different ways as a DM you can use some of the existing things, like the aforementioned rust monsters, gray ooze, and of course anything can try to sunder. Or send in thieves or magic to steal items. That all runs the risk of being a DM focused on winning.

I'm just not sure why they would loose powerful items as they advanced. Usually things get better, not worse, as things go. If you really want to have an item just for a specific mission or two there are plenty of story driven ways to handle that, from the item being a temporary loan or it is used/destroyed in the process of fulfilling it's prophetic story.

Talyn
2018-12-16, 09:20 PM
Yeah, I would remove the Mending spell, or at least give it an expensive, consumable material component, if you wanted to use these rules.

Zhorn
2018-12-16, 09:59 PM
Yeah, I would remove the Mending spell, or at least give it an expensive, consumable material component, if you wanted to use these rules.

I would keep mending in the game as it exists. Unless you have another variant rule in play, casters have a very limited number of cantrips they can know, and should be a meaningful choice in what cantrips are taken over others. If items are never broken in a campaign, then the mending cantrip is nearly useless, so why not allow a moment for it to shine.

Erloas
2018-12-16, 10:34 PM
But then you've given a cantrip to every single primary caster that completely negates the entire system. You've made what would be a challenging obsticle for martial classes and any caster can fix it with a bit of time. At least with a 10m casting time you can't just cast it dozens of times in a row, but still a caster could spend an hour a day during dinner making the system a non-issue. Especially since the valuable items, the ones you act like you want to take away, are going to be the ones focused on first.

edit: oh yeah, this is 5E, so only a 1m casting time, and rather than repairing 1d4 HPs, it simply fixes the item completely.
It isn't really making mending a meaningful choice as a cantrip, it is making it a requirement. And given how few cantrips there are, it isn't that much of a choice.

Zhorn
2018-12-16, 11:04 PM
It seems like a lot of extra bookkeeping for very little effect. It sounds like, in effect, you're just forcing some characters to take craft skills. It also does just sound like an anti-martial system because most casters get very low level mending spells that would fix most things.
The same could be said for character races and backgrounds that are given tool proficiencies or the ability to craft items that never get used because the equipment they have is indestructible.
As for the amount of book keeping, putting down a -1 next to a weapon on a character sheet doesn't seem any more tedious than deducting hit points, or crossing off spell slots.

Most spells don't have a d20 roll associated with them either, so you're either going to have to roll for no other reason
I would exclude those save vs fail spells from risking the items that are used to cast for the same reason those spell don't land crits.

or you're going to see casters doing fewer ray or touch type spells.
Like players not throwing their daggers in combats where they might not be able to retrieve them, or being very conservative on using arrows/bolts when they don't have many left. Certain actions pose certain risks. and also

Feeding back onto a spell component pouch... so they carry a couple extra 5gp/2lb pouches.
congratulations, you've just made a perfect analogy for someone that carries spare ammunition, a very viable and sensible thing to do in adventuring.

I'm not even sure what this would feed back to on many casters. Wizards for instance only use their spellbooks in the morning, so it wouldn't make any sense to feed back to the book, and many divine or spontaneous casters don't have direct items.
So if caster isn't using an arcane or divine focus, then it would just be up to DM fiat on what would be effected. Bards? use their instrument. Eldritch Knight? use their weapon. It doesn't sound like too much of an ask of the DM to just state what would fit logically into that particular nich based on what the player was doing at the time. There is a degree of imagination and improve in this game after all.

You can get a couple platinum holy symbols for less than a +1 weapon. Unless there are +5 spell component pouches and holy symbols that I don't know about.
It would also be keeping keeping casters and melee combatants on par as far as caring about the quality of equipment they were using. A non-magical mithral sword would be more durable than an iron sword, why wouldn't a caster want a more durable material for their casting focus to be constructed of.

For armor vs attacks, yeah, that's going to affect everyone, except that your fighter is going to take a dozen attacks for each one the wizard takes so just the probability is going to screw him over there.
Difference being the fighter is going to be clad is a sturdy armor that will be tougher to break. And if anything the creatures the players will be up against will have it worst of all, with ~4 players carving off their armor plating.

I can see wanted to take a campaign into a much more survival aspect, but really you've almost got to start with a different base system than d20, it just isn't really designed for that sort of thing. At the very least you're going to have to change a lot of basic assumptions of the system.
Which circles back around into using systems that already exist in the monster manual. Don't need to make any massive changes when an official system is already available, it's just applied to more areas of play.

Right now it just looks like adding another couple rolls to many actions and more tables to look up and things to track and forget about.
Some people like crit and fumble tables, some people don't. You clearly don't, and that is completely fair.
But that is more a critique against using ANY crit/fumble systems, and not on this one in particular.

Really it seems if you want to control items in different ways as a DM you can use some of the existing things, like the aforementioned rust monsters, gray ooze, and of course anything can try to sunder. Or send in thieves or magic to steal items. That all runs the risk of being a DM focused on winning.
That last line is the exact thing I would rather avoid. I've been on the receiving end of a DM that would just take things away from players without giving the players any agency over the event, and that was not fun. Things lost as part of a dice roll: reasonable. Things lost because the DM just says so: that's how you lose players.

I'm just not sure why they would loose powerful items as they advanced. Usually things get better, not worse, as things go. If you really want to have an item just for a specific mission or two there are plenty of story driven ways to handle that, from the item being a temporary loan or it is used/destroyed in the process of fulfilling it's prophetic story.
Yes, those are all perfectly reasonable, but still at odds with your initial statement. The story is advancing, and the characters lose access to a thing they had. The end result is the same.

Zhorn
2018-12-16, 11:13 PM
But then you've given a cantrip to every single primary caster that completely negates the entire system. You've made what would be a challenging obsticle for martial classes and any caster can fix it with a bit of time. At least with a 10m casting time you can't just cast it dozens of times in a row, but still a caster could spend an hour a day during dinner making the system a non-issue. Especially since the valuable items, the ones you act like you want to take away, are going to be the ones focused on first.

edit: oh yeah, this is 5E, so only a 1m casting time, and rather than repairing 1d4 HPs, it simply fixes the item completely.
It isn't really making mending a meaningful choice as a cantrip, it is making it a requirement. And given how few cantrips there are, it isn't that much of a choice.

Yes, I suppose if your group definitely has a Bard/Cleric/Druid/Sorcerer/Mage and they want to get the mending cantrip, then sure they could do that.
Each game is different and people will play different ways. I've had my fair share of groups without any of those classes. I've also been in groups where utility cantrips were used constantly, and choices between a limited number of cantrips was a huge deal (example: caving without darkvision and the torches run out, was really wishing someone had picked light that time).

Anyway, instead of overhauling other things, what in my proposed post would you change there to make it more palatable to you personally?

Erloas
2018-12-17, 02:05 AM
Sure all groups are different, but how many groups of 4 don't have one of half the classes, and the majority of which tend to be the more powerful and more played classes. I'm just saying if you're going to go through the trouble of building a system like this it should be more robust than simply being negated with a cantrip available to half the classes at level 1.

The point with the holy symbol or spell component pounch is that you could loose and replace dozens and dozens of those before you've even hit the cost of anything more than a mundane starting weapon or armor. Loosing a high end holy symbol would be cheap and easy to replace compared to even low end magical weapons and armor. So you're not really making the casters worry more about their items because even with more durable items on the martial classes they're still more reliant on their items and they're still going to break more just because of how often rolling attacks against them is going to happen compared to the caster classes.

As for spells and damage, what about things like Color Spray, magic missile, shatter, cure wounds, hold person, etc. etc. that don't have a d20 roll associated with them normally? Many don't have focuses either, so it would just seem rather arbitrary to cast one and have some random thing on the wizard/cleric break because of it. It is a pretty small sub-set of the spells that would be affected, they might not crit but that doesn't mean they aren't regularly used, they're the primary methods those classes interact with the world.

The book keeping is more than just putting a -1 next to an item, it is knowing and checking the whole durability table and figuring out what item would be affected in some cases. Not just keeping track of the end result, but the whole process of deciding if it happened in the first place. It wouldn't be that hard to keep track of if it was only when an attack was critical, but you've got to do a lot more if it is going to matter to many of the magic based classes.


I'm not opposed to a critical system, nor a way to cover item degradation, the tricky part is finding one that is equitable between classes.

If you wanted to make crafting more useful overall I don't think making items be destroyed is going to help much there, it would start with reworking the crafting system and, most importantly, limit was is available in the world. People don't avoid crafting because their +1 flaming sword never breaks, it is because they can easily find one just laying around, or buy one in a store, and when they get more powerful they just go out and buy the +2 flaming sword because who has months of downtime to craft items and use up skills to do it when you can just buy them from a vendor. It is a campaign/world sort of issue more than an item durability issue.


If we look at computer games, where item degradation is not that uncommon, and easy for the computer to track.. the end result is just that it is ignored until things get too broken then they head back to somewhere to repair or you just repair everything anytime you end up somewhere. Functionally it ends up being little more than a money sink. The balance between costs being trivial and them being oppressive is a fine one, and one that I've never seen any game get right.


Do you want your parties to head back into town more often? Is making a few extra "survival" like rolls to repair items occasionally going to make them more cautious, or are they just going to avoid any long trips? Do you make a big deal about survival rolls and carrying rations?
It isn't that these sorts of things aren't realistic, they just tend to not add much value to the game and tend to be forgot about more often than not. If your goal is to make a more survival based approach that is where I would start, and that is where a system like this I think would fit in best. The first step would be to remove or modify many of the spells and abilities that make survival trivial (and in this case I would include item repair as survival in the general sense). Then you make sure you enforce those things. I would also remove, or greatly reduce the availability of magic items that trivialize these things, like a bag of holding, where your str 8 wizard can carrying a months worth of food and water, all the stuff needed for camping, and all of the other miscellaneous items needed to repair their items.
Once you've got a real survival system set up then I could see adding item degradation to it. Without that it feels a lot more like "oh you're a class that relies on items, well you can't have nice things, so now they break."

Zhorn
2018-12-17, 04:54 AM
if you're going to go through the trouble of building a system like this it should be more robust than simply being negated with a cantrip available to half the classes at level 1
Pretty sure there are plenty of things in the base game that magic and abilities negate by having the right spell or skill at first level.
Lots of caves and dungeons with no natural lighting? Darkvision, Dancing Lights, Light.
In the wilderness with no food of water? Create or Destroy Water, Goodberry.
Lost in the wilderness? Not if you have Keen Mind
Someone is dying? Spare the Dying
Something trying to ambush your group? To bad you have Alert
You have disadvantage on a roll? RAW the Lucky feat can turn that into advantage using 3 dice.
Enemy has advantage on a roll? Lucky feat again, only now your opponent have disadvantage with 3 dice.

I get where you are coming from, I just see it as being overly critical about an aspect because of an obvious work around. If someone takes Mending to get around this, good on them. They've chosen a cantrip that they can get a lot of mileage out of and I won't fault them for that. Personally, I see cantrips as highly valuable tools, and it is necessary that characters have such a limited number available due to how much utility they grant. I don't see this as any more of an issue than

magic items that trivialize these things, like a bag of holding, where your str 8 wizard can carrying a months worth of food and water, all the stuff needed for camping, and all of the other miscellaneous items needed to repair their items
because if a player has gone through the effort to get those thing prepared to overcome a challenge, I'm more inclined to let them have their fun rather than tear through their PHB saying "you can't have this, you can't have this, you can't have this". I've had a DM who would just randomly take stuff away from players for his own amusement. He didn't have a group for very long. But campaigns where items are lost not by malicious intend but a roll of the die, those feel more fair, and it's easier to laugh at your own misfortune when it was random chance and not done directly to you by someone else.
Maybe for you this system only seems viable in low magic settings, in which case any issues between its effectiveness against casters vs non-casters becomes a moot point.

As for making crit and fumble tables with perfect parity between all classes, that's a tall order that even veterans will have trouble with without splitting penalties and bonuses in separate sub-groups for ranged, melee, magical, non-magical, material, non-material. Now instead on a couple of numbers to compare against, you have a half-dozen pages.
I'm not looking to reinvent the wheel here, just taking some mechanics that already exist and and giving them a little more frequency. and by a little, I do mean a little. After all, I was looking to make some home rules that are completely modular. Take them or leave them, the rest of the games doesn't need a complete overhaul in order to implement.


you're not really making the casters worry more about their items because even with more durable items on the martial classes they're still more reliant on their items and they're still going to break more just because of how often rolling attacks against them is going to happen compared to the caster classes.

Lets assume we have a fighter with a plus +5 strength with a common iron sword. They roll a natural 1 (so 5% chance that happens on an attack), and so the weapon is subject to a durability roll. Taking the table on p246 of the DMG (the basis for the table in my initial post), we see iron as a 19, with a +5 strength behind the swing, that'll need a roll of 14 or higher to cause damage to the weapon (35% chance). So 35% of 5% is a 1.75% of that fighter's weapon taking damage when they attack with it. It will happen, but it will be rare.

Now let's take a Wizard with a +5 intelligence casting a firebolt using their crystal ball as a focus, and they also roll a natural 1. Doing the same some and dance over again with the same table, crystal = 13, with the +5 modifier on the roll, that'll be a roll of 8 or higher (60%). 60% of 5% comes to 3% chance to damage their own focus on a spell cast.

Now with melee classes making more rolls per turn on average compared to magic users due to multi attack and not all spells using d20 rolls, the difference here I'd say is small enough to not be a concern. And again, this would be just for a single -1 penalty, which if players are active about repairing gear, would only effect them for the remainder of a single combat encounter if they have access to mending. Another appeal I find to this sort of system isn't solely for breaking gear, but also adding an extra danger to combat encounters, those -1's can be just a big a deal as getting those +1 weapons, so these types of penalties feel to fit in really well with 5e's bounded accuracy model.

Now in groups that don't have the cantrip on hand, now we enter into gear grinding territory, where stocking up for those long trips through the underdark or the jungles of Chult have that extra degree of danger, where gear is slowly chipped away, and players are scavenging through the corpses of their fallen enemy for equipment, as even mundane items are now viable upgrades and replacements. Magic items are more durable and last longer, so the quest for gear strong enough that you're unlikely to break it is a good incentive.

Anyway, I'm not looking to overhaul a whole system. I'm just proposing a small modular ruling. I'm all ears if you have tweaks to the numbers that makes it more appealing, but I'm trying to keep it simple and consistent with what is already in the books.

Roll a 1 or a 20? DM declares what item is being effected.
What is it made of? DMG p246 has a table for that
Is it magical? Add +1 for each tier of item rarity
d20 + Ability Score Modifier vs Object Durability
Item either received -1 penalty or didn't.
Shields break at AC 0, Armor breaks at AC 10, everything else breaks when the penalty is -5.

quick and easy to summarize
Wanting a fully worked over survival system? That's someone else's gig.

Erloas
2018-12-17, 02:25 PM
There are a lot of "realistic" things that are negated by magic, that is true. But what it effectively means is that very few games actually care about that. Even though there are rules for food and drink how many games actually do anything about it? Everyone knows how easy it is to bypass that it's almost a non factor. It is there for legacy reasons rather than it adding anything to the game.
So why develop another add on system that can essentially be ignored if the players know about it at character creation?

As an aside, alarm doesn't help much with ambushes since it doesn't work when you're moving and with a range of 30ft it might keep you from being robbed at night but anything wishing to attack would be in melee range before you even have a chance to wake up, or simply shot you from 20ft away (30ft range means only 15ft to center from any side)

I get the idea of making more mundane items more appealing. The system could work for that, but the first step in making it actually happen is to change enough of the base game that it will.

Much the same way that putting something that needs a rope isn't really an obstacle so much as a little bit of background noise to a game because it's essentially a given that the party will get past without an issue. It's on par with a single level 1 goblin against a level 3 party, in theory it can do something, in practice it's not even worth picking up dice for.

Make the system, just make enough other changes that it actually means something.

Zhorn
2018-12-17, 08:00 PM
There are a lot of "realistic" things that are negated by magic, that is true. But what it effectively means is that very few games actually care about that. Even though there are rules for food and drink how many games actually do anything about it? Everyone knows how easy it is to bypass that it's almost a non factor. It is there for legacy reasons rather than it adding anything to the game.
Yes, there are lots of "realistic" things magic negates. Realism wasn't my target goal. It's not mentioned in my post at all and is not what the intent is about. If I cared about realism, then I wouldn't be using a game where sorcery and dragons are a key feature.
Food and drink is steering off topic, but yes I've played in games where they were ignored, and I've played in games where they were crucial (mostly tied into random encounters where dangerous creature lived near water sources, or the smell of blood from a kill attracted predators). These are case by case examples and will swing wildly in relevance from game to game. Some rules are useful, some are not, and some it just comes down to the setting whether they matter or not. I'm making this rule modular because of that. I can see a use for it in how games I've played in have been run. Will it fit every scenario? No, it will fit some scenarios and not fit others, like is the case with food, water, travel exhaustion, skill challenges and a whole slew of other optional rules from the books or things people have home brewed.


So why develop another add on system that can essentially be ignored if the players know about it at character creation?
Because it wouldn't be ignored when it happens? Solutions exist, some of them can be instant fixes too. GREAT! That is not a problem. But when does this equipment damage occur and when can it be fixed, there's the engagement right there. Is it in the middle of combat? Is the fighter now with a -1 on their shield in the middle of a pack of mobs while the wizard with Mending on the opposite side of the battle map? Sure it can be fixed later when its safe, but in the moment, that's a penalty that the fighter has to deal with, or the wizard has to risk getting into the fray where they don't want to be. Or flip the scenario around and the wizard has a damaged arcane focus, and the BBEG is on the move to escape, do they use their action to try and attack them or spend it on repairing with their magical-fix-all. Choices and consequences is the exact opposite of being ignored.
Can it happen at trivial moments, sure, and in those moments it'll be a simple fix. Other times there is potential tension in game for the players where that fix isn't simple and trivial.
I liken it to hp and long rests. If a long rest restores all hp and for the players at the table it is just a fade-to-black then onto the next day a second later, does that trivialize taking hp damage? Niche cases can be made about plenty of scenarios for plenty of rules that will either make them trivial or add to the tension. The key part being that the rules are just a framework to give the scenarios potential, and its then up to the DM and players to capitalize on that potential.


As an aside, alarm doesn't help much with ambushes since...
Waaaaay off topic there. I wasn't talking about Alarm, and hadn't mentioned it anywhere. I understand how it works, and it's a neat spell, but has nothing to do with this conversation.


Much the same way that putting something that needs a rope isn't really an obstacle so much as a little bit of background noise to a game because it's essentially a given that the party will get past without an issue. It's on par with a single level 1 goblin against a level 3 party, in theory it can do something, in practice it's not even worth picking up dice for.
More niche scenarios. These all come down the how the players act and what the DM has in mind in setting up the encounter. Example: put that climb into a chase scenario and it matters a lot more, or give that goblin information the party needs, and it's flipped the encounter from combat into role play with entirely different parameters. But even then, it would still count for naught if there is no investment from the DM or buy-in from the players.

Which brings me back to our back-and-forth.

Make the system, just make enough other changes that it actually means something.
I'm not looking to overhaul a whole system.
I'm trying to propose a small and simple modular optional rule.

If it changes too many things then is it no longer small (hence using tables already in the DMG)
If it is too convoluted then it is no longer simple (hence using the monster mechanics mostly unchanged)
And if it requires a whole lot of other components to be changed to work, then it is no longer modular (hence not taking away or changing the baseline game)

If you don't like it, that's fine, I respect people having their own tastes.
I disagree of what you say constitutes as a problem with what has been written so far, BUT I'm still willing to listen if you have constructive suggestions about how to adjust my rule to be more favorable. Not other rules, this rule.

Erloas
2018-12-17, 08:58 PM
Yes, there are lots of "realistic" things magic negates. Realism wasn't my target goal. It's not mentioned in my post at all and is not what the intent is about. If I cared about realism, then I wouldn't be using a game where sorcery and dragons are a key feature.
Food and drink is steering off topic, but yes I've played in games where they were ignored, and I've played in games where they were crucial (mostly tied into random encounters where dangerous creature lived near water sources, or the smell of blood from a kill attracted predators). These are case by case examples and will swing wildly in relevance from game to game. Some rules are useful, some are not, and some it just comes down to the setting whether they matter or not. I'm making this rule modular because of that. I can see a use for it in how games I've played in have been run. Will it fit every scenario? No, it will fit some scenarios and not fit others, like is the case with food, water, travel exhaustion, skill challenges and a whole slew of other optional rules from the books or things people have home brewed.
Items damage and breaking is at it's base a push for realism. The second line in your reasoning for this was as a way to remove powerful items over time, without changing more, such as mend, that is never going to happen.



Because it wouldn't be ignored when it happens? Solutions exist, some of them can be instant fixes too. GREAT! That is not a problem. But when does this equipment damage occur and when can it be fixed, there's the engagement right there. Is it in the middle of combat? Is the fighter now with a -1 on their shield in the middle of a pack of mobs while the wizard with Mending on the opposite side of the battle map? Sure it can be fixed later when its safe, but in the moment, that's a penalty that the fighter has to deal with, or the wizard has to risk getting into the fray where they don't want to be. Or flip the scenario around and the wizard has a damaged arcane focus, and the BBEG is on the move to escape, do they use their action to try and attack them or spend it on repairing with their magical-fix-all. Choices and consequences is the exact opposite of being ignored.
It might be easier to just build a normal critical failure system, because right now, while it might happen at important times, it is actually something you could very well go several games without it actually coming up, and that would simplify it more.


Waaaaay off topic there. I wasn't talking about Alarm, and hadn't mentioned it anywhere. I understand how it works, and it's a neat spell, but has nothing to do with this conversation.You specifically listed Alarm as one way low level trivializes a staple of combat, an ambush. I'm just saying it doesn't.


BUT I'm still willing to listen if you have constructive suggestions about how to adjust my rule to be more favorable. Not other rules, this rule. I was just trying to say if you want it to be worth doing you should change mend enough to make the system be more than a very rare -1 that goes away after a combat.
At the very least I would say that an item can only benefit from mend once a day (maybe once a week) and that it only heals one point.

I would do away with the table of common->legendary and just go with the type of the item, with a set bonus if it is magical. That would mean that every type of item only has 2 option, a robe would be AC 11 or AC 13 if magical, rather than the large table you have now. It would mean there is a reasonable chance you can remember rather than looking it up every time it happens. I would build in a mechanism so you still check if a magic user casts a spell that doesn't roll to hit (most buffs, most utility spells, a number of their attacks) so that it is more equitable. (fireball, call lightning, meteor storm, flame strike, and summon spell, etc. would never have a chance to harm the caster. In fact it seems that more spells wouldn't ever have a chance of damaging the caster than spells that would)

Zhorn
2018-12-17, 11:26 PM
You specifically listed Alarm as one way low level trivializes a staple of combat, an ambush. I'm just saying it doesn't.

Something trying to ambush your group? To bad you have Alert
Alert =/= Alarm, but I suppose the spelling is close enough that a speed read slip can be expected to happen. We've all been there.
But anyway, back to the main show...


The second line in your reasoning for this was as a way to remove powerful items over time, without changing more, such as mend, that is never going to happen.
Completely fair call. My bad for not wording my intent better. If I edit my first post to reflect changes I will try to phrase this better.
As I conceded previously, I do recognize Mending as a solution to this, and I also agree that it does enable characters to overcome item degradation in the long term.
While I do think this system is a viable way to break items to remove them from play, I view that as a possible use, not the intended goal for my intentions. In the case of it being a possible use that was from my musings about my aforementioned previous DM who would like to just declare player's items as breaking when he arbitrarily saw fit, and me thinking that sort of thing would have been more palatable from a player perspective if it were the result of random chance dice roll as opposed to malicious intent.
As to my main intent, it is as the thread title suggests: "Making equipment damage more common". Having an item sudden break seems too quick, and having something completely indestructible felt like a condition that could be interesting to tinker with considering the effect of the monsters I have listed. Thoughts about realism I only give as much attention as needed when considering thematic and mechanical consistency while in play.


It might be easier to just build a normal critical failure system, because right now, while it might happen at important times, it is actually something you could very well go several games without it actually coming up, and that would simplify it more.
Possibly. Confirmation rolls to the side for the moment, I chose to try and tie this system into natural 1's and 20's as a way of slotting it into that crit/fumble niche, to give it that rare-but-thematically appropriate feel to when it occurs. It was also to keep any additional rolls to a minimum, hence why I'm adverse to adding extra rolls to spells that don't already use a d20 as part of their use, plus a good amount of spells that don't have a d20 roll on the part of the caster still have it on the part of the target, so spells like Meteor Swarm and Fireball still participate, but the roll is just at the other end. Also, while the caster would technically be protected from the negative side of the roll in these cases, that was one of the trade-offs I was willing to accept when mathing out the difference it item durability vs frequency in rolls when comparing melee classes to casters (or material vs non-material if I'm understanding your nomenclature correctly?).
Also defining what a constitutes "normal critical failure system" is widely open to interpretation, considering most crit/fumble tables are house ruled. I've got another thread on lingering injuries and massive damage that was in part inspired by how much of a clunky hot mess the system in the DMG is (p272-273).


I was just trying to say if you want it to be worth doing you should change mend enough to make the system be more than a very rare -1 that goes away after a combat.
At the very least I would say that an item can only benefit from mend once a day (maybe once a week) and that it only heals one point.

I would do away with the table of common->legendary and just go with the type of the item, with a set bonus if it is magical. That would mean that every type of item only has 2 option, a robe would be AC 11 or AC 13 if magical, rather than the large table you have now. It would mean there is a reasonable chance you can remember rather than looking it up every time it happens. I would build in a mechanism so you still check if a magic user casts a spell that doesn't roll to hit (most buffs, most utility spells, a number of their attacks) so that it is more equitable. (fireball, call lightning, meteor storm, flame strike, and summon spell, etc. would never have a chance to harm the caster. In fact it seems that more spells wouldn't ever have a chance of damaging the caster than spells that would)

So on my first draft of this before I posted it, I had just the base table for Object Armor Class (DMG p246) with magic items getting a +3 flat bonus, with my thinking that Adamantine should be able to reach that practically unbreakable state by basic character standards (without special conditions, strength capping out at 20 for a +5, leaving a durability of 26 just out of reach). But then some lunchroom discussions brought up things like "shouldn't a +2 weapon (rare) be more durable than a +1 weapon (uncommon), and a +1 weapon more durable than a moon-touched sword (common)".
Figuring there were only five tiers of magic item rarity (common, uncommon, rare, very rare, legendary), doing a +1 per tier of rarity seemed simple enough (plus I like the symmetry of the +5 up for magic items and the -5 down for broken gear). And once you've understood the explanatory fluff, the rule was basic enough that it could fit onto a index card (see the bottom of post #12 for example). The table itself is still just the same table from the DMG, I just had the other numbers listed on my initial post for a visual comparison. Heck, even the official DM's screen has the table on it, so it's not unreasonable to think the base numbers would be easily on hand for the DM.
But if you like the sound of a flat magical +2 for simplicity's sake, that sounds fair enough.

Spells that force saves rather than rolling to attack, I'm fine with as I said earlier. Thematically you could just explain it away as 'these spells are cast with more care, where as spells that use attack rolls have a chaotic element to them, where they have the ability to trigger critical damage, but there's also a risk in them backfiring' where that backfiring is just putting excessive strain on the focus used to cast the spell. I'm adverse to forcing additional rolls for the same reason I'm adverse for forcing consecutive rolls for a single task or skill challenge, there's a point where it switches over from 'checking for success' to 'fishing for failure', and those extra rolls are where the game slows down. By sticking with the main rolls already in play, it keeps most of the game moving along at a regular pace, and the extra rolls triggered by a 1 or 20 would be no different than rolls on a crit/fumble table.

Now looking at Mending, I don't think it really needs a change, but that's mostly due to how I read what's already there as written (PHB p259 for those in the audience).
Cast time: 1 minute, so mending during combat is out of the question.
Range: Touch, so a split party or players sufficiently far apart will have consequences to deal with.
Components: V,S,M (two loadstones), so can't be done while being stealthy as someone is bound to hear you
"The spell repairs a single break or tear in an object..." vague enough to suggest a DM could rule you need all the pieces of a broken item to cast Mending on it, an easy out if you want to rule certain items beyond mend's capabilities, eg: a small shard of the blade has chipped away during combat, if they can't find the missing piece, they can't use mending.
"This spell can physically repair a magic item or constructs, but the spell can't restore magic to such an object", here's a spot where you could apply a simple house ruling if you like, but personally I think the wording is such that you don't need to change how the spell works. If I were to house rule it, I'd say that using Mending to repair damage to a magic item reduces its rarity value down by one tier. If Mending degrades a magic item from from common to mundane, the item ceases to be magical and looses any of its special effects. I'm tempted to use this line of thinking whether I apply my item damage ruling or not, as this feels like it would be in keeping with the written intent of Mending.
Still technically a houseruling, so... mark down a point on your scoreboard for that one I suppose?

Erloas
2018-12-18, 02:43 AM
Martial vs casters is the general nomenclature I've seen used. As in Martial Arts.

The exact bonus for magic items wouldn't need to be 2, but I think a flat bonus would be better. The rarity seems to be more of a guideline for the DM rather than some inherent property of the items. It also isn't easy to just know, some +3 items are legendary, other +3s are very rare. Quite a few of the less standard magic weapons might have a +1 and be legendary. It wouldn't necessarily be bad to have more variety in the ACs, but if you're wanted to keep this streamlined than any time looking at a book is going to add up. An extra roll on spells would be much faster than opening a book and that is more than you want to do.
I agree with the issue of rolls that are seemingly extra, which they would be, but having every attack and skill use have a chance of failure but many spells don't also just doesn't sit right. And while there is the save roll on many of those spells, that would never come back to bother the caster, just the target.

Adamantine you could rule as indestructible simply by the fact that it ignores critical hits.

Having mending (and maybe craft skill repairs?) remove the penalty to the item, but not repair the "hit point" damage would be a very good way to degrade items over time.

Zhorn
2018-12-18, 03:53 AM
The rarity seems to be more of a guideline for the DM rather than some inherent property of the items. It also isn't easy to just know, some +3 items are legendary, other +3s are very rare. Quite a few of the less standard magic weapons might have a +1 and be legendary.
I'd wager it would be a bigger deal if you use custom magic items that hadn't been classified fully. If working just from the items in the DMG, XGtE and the appendixed items in other official books you're given the rarity, but also a fair few of the items given out in the middle of the published adventures are not in the appendices, and only give their effect/bonus without listing their appropriate rarity.
I'm also inclined to view the rarity as more than just a guideline for DM's considering the rules and price guides that exist for players creating items too.
In any case, it is a valid argument in favor of a flat bonus if the +1-per-tier is too tricky to keep track of. I personally do index card handouts, so I'd jot down the worked out number on that when giving an item to a player, and they can just reference that and cross off the durability/rarity as required. Different systems to different people.


It wouldn't necessarily be bad to have more variety in the ACs, but if you're wanted to keep this streamlined than any time looking at a book is going to add up. An extra roll on spells would be much faster than opening a book and that is more than you want to do.
Assuming a DM that was wanting to implement this had prepared a bit, it shouldn't require any book checking beyond looking at the numbers on a DM screen, or letting the players have their own numbers on hand like in the handout example above. What constitutes as faster really depends on what is considered baseline to begin with. We're comparing 'extra roll vs no extra roll' to 'extra roll vs book look up'.


I agree with the issue of rolls that are seemingly extra, which they would be, but having every attack and skill use have a chance of failure but many spells don't also just doesn't sit right. And while there is the save roll on many of those spells, that would never come back to bother the caster, just the target.
Where I count the roll being on the receiving end the equivalent trade-off for the caster not getting an opportunity to deal critical damage (*taking a moment to salivate at the idea of casting a critical fireball*)
If the roll was added at the caster's end, then I'd say the roll of the person making a save would not factor into the check. Still, this could cause some confusion at the table with some players getting confused with both attacker and receiver rolling at the same time, new players especially "is this a contested roll?" "No, that roll is lower than mine!", etc.


Adamantine you could rule as indestructible simply by the fact that it ignores critical hits.
I'd rule it negates the critical damage, but the gear is still taking the brunt of the hit just like anything else. I hate to resort to the realism card, but if Adamantine can be forged, then it should reasonably be able to be damaged.


Having mending (and maybe craft skill repairs?) remove the penalty to the item, but not repair the "hit point" damage would be a very good way to degrade items over time.
Possibly, but that would just be the same end result under a different name... Yes there's a mechanical difference in the method of counting, but it's tangentially different in complexity, not more or less complex.
side note: just to be clear on my earlier post about decreasing the magic item's rarity, I wouldn't downgrade its bonus effect potency, not until it crossed that common-to-mundane threshold.

I'll tweak some things into the initial post a bit later