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View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next MOG Mechanics: Pain (Improvised called shots to the groin, now a sound strategy!)



Man_Over_Game
2019-01-08, 04:45 PM
People like adding flair to their attacks, and sometimes, the existing rules don't really support the mechanics of some actions (I kick him in the knee!). However, most called-shot systems add their own list of rules, mechanics and slow down the game, and implementing a new system to inflict negative conditions to an enemy can sometimes impede on existing mechanics, such as with the Battle Master Fighter's Superiority Die.

So as a solution to all these things, I came up with the Pain system.

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The Rules:

Pain is a new mechanic that works similarly to Exhaustion, in stacks, and can also sum with Exhaustion for a resulting effect on the Exhaustion table (so 2 Pain and 1 Exhaustion results in the third bullet on the Exhaustion table). However, if someone's sum of Exhaustion + Pain reaches 6 stacks while having less than 6 stacks of Exhaustion, the character is unconscious rather than dead.

You can inflict Pain on your foes by making a Called Shot at the enemy, which is a special maneuver made by using an attack from the Attack Action and spending your Bonus Action. On a hit, a Called Shot deals half damage (rounded down), but forces the target to make a Constitution saving throw. The DC for your Called Shots is equal to the damage dealt by the attack + your proficiency bonus. If the target fails the Constitution Saving Throw, they receive a stack of Pain, plus another stack of Pain for every 10 they failed the DC by.

If someone takes an action to make a Medicine check with DC 10, they can remove a stack of Pain from an afflicted adjacent target, and can remove an additional stack for every 5 more on the Medicine check that they made past 10. Otherwise, all stacks of Pain are removed upon taking a Short Rest or healing to full health. If a creature's maximum HP is reduced due to Pain and are healed to their current Maximum, they lose as many Pain stacks as it takes to no longer have their Hit Point Maximum reduced by Pain.

Pain reflects heavy stress due to intense battle and can be afflicted through other means, including things like suffering a critical hit, reviving after the dying status, or other scenarios that your DM may say are applicable.

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For reference, here is the Exhaustion table:


Disadvantage on ability checks
Speed halved
Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws
Hit point maximum halved
Speed reduced to 0
Death



This will allow players to have an alternate method of crippling enemies, being able to snipe them from afar or by breaking them down in a melee arena deathmatch. I originally came up with this idea from this thread (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?572647-CC-s-without-any-magic), and this quote:

So, today i was watching critical role and a pit fight encounter presented itself for barbarian of the party, grog. And travis willingham described awesome moves like thunderclapping both ears, shoving thumbs in eye sockets, aiming kicks to kneecaps to bust knees and a whole lot of moves. All these moves for rolling 1d4/2+STR MOD equal of dmg and nothing else.

Now, normally those moves would deafen, blind, make you limp and so on in real life. But they would also bring a ton of pain. But since dealing a lot of dmg and dropping a control effect on a foe will be too strong i would like to implement these phsical effect in a game that i'm DMing currently in a balanced way. So that not only casters or battlemasters are the only CC guys in the game. (yeah i know you can shove, trip, push/pull but there are a lot of CC's in the game and if a pin costs enemy half his movement speed to get up a busted kneecap might do something similar.)

So what are your advices on this issue how should i implement these mechanics in the game. How should the save be like how should i calculate the DC of such attacks. Should they be an action or an attack action.

Pls keep in mind that although i'm aiming these to be realistic, priority is to make them balanced. Any idea is welcome :)

Which inspired me to create a new system that allowed combatants to cripple targets in combat to add a new level of tactics for players. Considering the first major concerns of Exhaustion don't kick in until turn 3, and the requirement for a Bonus Action restricts Called Shots to be once per character per turn, this means that it would take an effective 3 turns to start implementing some of the more serious concerns with Pain/Exhaustion.

This works exceptionally well since most combats end around turn 4. This means that Called Shots become a niche pick, best used with group planning, but not inherently better than dealing direct damage. Due to the fact that healing from full health removes Pain, and Called Shots deal less damage, being able to stay at full HP is a good counter to Pain.

Consider the Pain system, and what it can provide for your table.

Mith
2019-01-08, 11:26 PM
People like adding flair to their attacks, and sometimes, the existing rules don't really support the mechanics of some actions (I kick him in the knee!). However, most called-shot systems add their own list of rules, mechanics and slow down the game, and implementing a new system to inflict negative conditions to an enemy can sometimes impede on existing mechanics, such as with the Battle Master Fighter's Superiority Die.

So as a solution to all these things, I came up with the Pain system.




For reference, here is the Exhaustion table:



This will allow players to have an alternate method of crippling enemies, being able to snipe them from afar or by breaking them down in a melee arena deathmatch. I originally came up with this idea from this thread (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?572647-CC-s-without-any-magic), and this quote:


Which inspired me to create a new system that allowed combatants to cripple targets in combat to add a new level of tactics for players. Considering the first major concerns of Exhaustion don't kick in until turn 3, and the requirement for a Bonus Action restricts Called Shots to be once per character per turn, this means that it would take an effective 3 turns to start implementing some of the more serious concerns with Pain/Exhaustion.

This works exceptionally well since most combats end around turn 4. This means that Called Shots become a niche pick, best used with group planning, but not inherently better than dealing direct damage. Due to the fact that healing from full health removes Pain, and Called Shots deal less damage, being able to stay at full HP is a good counter to Pain.

Consider the Pain system, and what it can provide for your table.

Personally, I am wondering if you are better off just to treat the Con save as a Concentration Save, where a single minded creature (highly focused) could push through these effects.


If I were to do this system, I would probably have a split Exhaustion, where you have essentially Temporary and actual Exhaustion.

Man_Over_Game
2019-01-09, 11:05 AM
Personally, I am wondering if you are better off just to treat the Con save as a Concentration Save, where a single minded creature (highly focused) could push through these effects.


If I were to do this system, I would probably have a split Exhaustion, where you have essentially Temporary and actual Exhaustion.

Not a terrible idea on the Concentration aspect, except for the fact that it heavily favors those with War Caster and Bladesingers vs. Barbarians and Paladins. As-is, the only classes that would be able to endure the Pain better than most are Fighters (who deal with various forms of combat), and Sorcerers (who have literal magic running through their veins), and both make sense for the sake of resisting Pain.

A clause COULD be made that damage by Called Shots causes Disadvantage on any Concentration Saving Throws, but that might make the feature a bit overpowered.


As for the second bullet, that's exactly the intent. Early on, I mention that Pain works like Exhaustion, and you can combine the two (so 2 Pain and 1 Exhaustion translates to the third bullet on the Exhaustion table), and then making Pain much easier to get rid of, effectively making it a Temporary Exhaustion mechanic. Or were you thinking of something else entirely for it?

Mith
2019-01-09, 01:59 PM
Not a terrible idea on the Concentration aspect, except for the fact that it heavily favors those with War Caster and Bladesingers vs. Barbarians and Paladins. As-is, the only classes that would be able to endure the Pain better than most are Fighters (who deal with various forms of combat), and Sorcerers (who have literal magic running through their veins), and both make sense for the sake of resisting Pain.

A clause COULD be made that damage by Called Shots causes Disadvantage on any Concentration Saving Throws, but that might make the feature a bit overpowered.


As for the second bullet, that's exactly the intent. Early on, I mention that Pain works like Exhaustion, and you can combine the two (so 2 Pain and 1 Exhaustion translates to the third bullet on the Exhaustion table), and then making Pain much easier to get rid of, effectively making it a Temporary Exhaustion mechanic. Or were you thinking of something else entirely for it?

The second bullet was just a musing on how to represent this on a Char sheet.

I do see your point about Concentration. Do you want it to be possible for a Magic User to keep up Concentration while taking on a level of Pain? If you want inflicting Pain to break Concentration, I would make the save for Pain to be a Concentration save.

Also, I keep forgetting that Paladins do not have Con save proficiency. I always think that a Martial class had Con save to start with, with variations from there.

Man_Over_Game
2019-01-09, 02:04 PM
The second bullet was just a musing on how to represent this on a Char sheet.

I do see your point about Concentration. Do you want it to be possible for a Magic User to keep up Concentration while taking on a level of Pain? If you want inflicting Pain to break Concentration, I would make the save for Pain to be a Concentration save.

Also, I keep forgetting that Paladins do not have Con save proficiency. I always think that a Martial class had Con save to start with, with variations from there.

Pain already creates a Concentration Saving Throw by dealing damage (albeit, halved damage), and enough Pain (3 stacks) will force disadvantage on any future saving throws as per the Exhaustion table, including Concentration. So unless you can deal enough damage to break someone's Concentration in a single hit (need to deal 20+ damage in a single hit to have the amount of damage matter for Concentration Saving Throws), Pain is already a better method to deal with a mage than straight attacking (assuming you can't kill them in 3-4 hits).

Sorry for the misunderstanding with the Temporary Exhaustion. I guess you could just call it "Stress" rather than "Pain", (so you have Stress and Exhaustion), but inflicting "Stress" just doesn't have that nice ring to it that "Pain" does. I do see where you're getting at with using Temporary Exhaustion, though, just saying that regularly can get....exhausting.

Vogie
2019-01-09, 02:15 PM
Not a terrible idea on the Concentration aspect, except for the fact that it heavily favors those with War Caster and Bladesingers vs. Barbarians and Paladins. As-is, the only classes that would be able to endure the Pain better than most are Fighters (who deal with various forms of combat), and Sorcerers (who have literal magic running through their veins), and both make sense for the sake of resisting Pain.

A clause COULD be made that damage by Called Shots causes Disadvantage on any Concentration Saving Throws, but that might make the feature a bit overpowered.


I also like the idea of PAIN! being a forced concentration effect - it disrupts something that the target is concentrating on

PAIN! actually would give disadvantage on Con throws - "Disadvantage on ability checks" is the first effect on the table.

However, I wouldn't want to bring the pain for free. Maybe pain can be invoked by having disadvantage on the roll or a sharpshooter-esque -5 to hit (because you're targeting a certain part of the target), or an attack that deals reduced damage, but causes pain

Man_Over_Game
2019-01-09, 02:26 PM
I also like the idea of PAIN! being a forced concentration effect - it disrupts something that the target is concentrating on

PAIN! actually would give disadvantage on Con throws - "Disadvantage on ability checks" is the first effect on the table.

However, I wouldn't want to bring the pain for free. Maybe pain can be invoked by having disadvantage on the roll or a sharpshooter-esque -5 to hit (because you're targeting a certain part of the target), or an attack that deals reduced damage, but causes pain

Concentration isn't an ability check, but rather a special kind of Constitution Saving Throw, and Saving Throws aren't Ability Checks. So while the first level would cause you to fail on grapples and Counterspell duels, you'd have to inflict 3 Pain before Concentration saves were actually impacted.

I thought about adding a penalty, but as-is, most enemies die by turn 3-4, and Pain only starts making enemies totally useless around the same amount of time. I also thought about adding some way of modifying your damage to adjust for the DC (from dealing no dice damage on the actual attack but adding those dice to the DC so that Rogues can apply sneak attack to Pain (for a 40+ DC, no thanks); by only dealing dice damage on the initial attack and causing all flat damage to be routed to the DC, causing GWM to be even better with a 22 Pain DC, which is really weird for a GWM to be good at inflicting pain rather than murdering people), so the best solution I came up with was just to halve the damage, which makes it so that everyone (Power Attackers who sacrifice accuracy, Rogues with Sneak Attack, critters, etc) gets a slice of the pie.


Reducing the accuracy of it isn't the worst idea, but I just implied the same thing by halving the damage and requiring additional focus via the Bonus Action requirement. I also tacked on a scaling factor (+10 DC difference means more PAIN), so that those who do insane amounts of burst damage (Sharpshooters, GWM, Rogues) can still feel like their decision to invest into Pain is impactful. I originally thought a +5 scaling factor was a bit easier to hit, but I was worried about that due to how much damage Rogues can do in single hits and the fact that this is a resourceless tool, but besides Rogues, most other classes aren't hitting 20 damage in a single hit, so I might reconsider on that. For now, though, the +10 scaling seems to work with most scenarios I can see (Paladin Smites being a concern).

Lastly, try remembering the last time you played a FPS. Taking a headshot is either an option or it's not, and attempting to make one doesn't really make you miss more as much as it just requires a specific circumstance and a bit more focus. In melee, you don't miss more because you're trying to hit someone's arm; you're hitting their arm because that's how they're using their weapon to hit you, and it's the best thing to attack. That's the last reason why I made it require your Bonus Action. For me, a Bonus Action represents taking a bit more attention, and I feel like that fits the narrative well.

Grod_The_Giant
2019-01-09, 04:07 PM
More interacting with the Exhaustion table! Yay! It's one of my favorite under-used bits of 5e, so it's always fun to see interesting stuff get attached.

Your rules for making Called Shots seem drastically over-complicated, though. It's the same sort of fiddliness that made combat maneuvers in 3.5 such a pain. I'd suggest stripping out the added elements, like requiring an action and bonus action, or adding your Prof to damage. Just leave it as "attack, half damage, save, Pain"-- the simpler it is, the more it'll get used.


Three things to be cautious of, I think:

The players will get in a lot more fights/rest than NPCs. The stacking nature of Pain will mean they'll feel its effects than anyone else, and can probably expect to have a level or two on them frequently.
The Exhaustion table disproportionately hurts martial characters, especially melee ones-- a caster with 3 levels of Exhaustion will still be largely okay if they've got a few save-based spells, while a fighter who depends on swinging a sword will be in deep crap. I'd suggest tweaking the table a bit to make it more equitable.
This might be more lethal than you think. Three actions will ruin pretty much any opponent; that's not so bad if you're talking about something only one character can do-- as you note, combat is usually over by round 3-4 anyway-- but when the Fighter, Rogue, and Cleric can all open the boss fight by making called shots in the first round...?

Man_Over_Game
2019-01-09, 05:01 PM
More interacting with the Exhaustion table! Yay! It's one of my favorite under-used bits of 5e, so it's always fun to see interesting stuff get attached.

Your rules for making Called Shots seem drastically over-complicated, though. It's the same sort of fiddliness that made combat maneuvers in 3.5 such a pain. I'd suggest stripping out the added elements, like requiring an action and bonus action, or adding your Prof to damage. Just leave it as "attack, half damage, save, Pain"-- the simpler it is, the more it'll get used.


Three things to be cautious of, I think:

The players will get in a lot more fights/rest than NPCs. The stacking nature of Pain will mean they'll feel its effects than anyone else, and can probably expect to have a level or two on them frequently.
The Exhaustion table disproportionately hurts martial characters, especially melee ones-- a caster with 3 levels of Exhaustion will still be largely okay if they've got a few save-based spells, while a fighter who depends on swinging a sword will be in deep crap. I'd suggest tweaking the table a bit to make it more equitable.
This might be more lethal than you think. Three actions will ruin pretty much any opponent; that's not so bad if you're talking about something only one character can do-- as you note, combat is usually over by round 3-4 anyway-- but when the Fighter, Rogue, and Cleric can all open the boss fight by making called shots in the first round...?


All fair points, but I feel like they're all justified in the existing system in their own way

A Called Shot is just BA + Attack, damage roll + proficiency. I guess some people might consider that complicated, but halving the damage total + Proficiency doesn't seem like too much, but it is definitely different from other mechanics, so it might need revision.

Making it just an attack is a possibility, but I wanted to make sure it wasn't a "free" option. It should be an active choice for someone to take. Although, truth be told, I'm not sure how the balance works out with something requiring a BA or not, so removing it isn't too hard. By making it require a Bonus Action, to me, it implies an intentional choice to use it rather than a tagalong you should be doing every chance you can.

Exhaustion hurts attackers, true, but the level 3 feature also causes disadvantage to Saving Throws, and casters are more susceptible to that when considering things like Save spells against them or Concentration Saving Throws. A Barbarian with 3 stacks of Pain might be able to take an unsaved Fireball, but a Wizard probably can't.

Three actions can ruin a usual opponent on the battlefield (three turns attacking the same target will usually result in that target being dead, which is why we usually add mooks to boss fights). But additionally, these are Constitution saving throws, which bosses usually are quite effective in. They also usually have Legendary Resistances, being able to shrug off the effects.

With the existing system, a standard Called Shot would have a DC of (1d10 + 4)/2 + Proficiency. The DC of almost any other Saving Throw effect is 8+Modifier+Proficiency. Or, in other words, you need to deal at least 16 damage in a single weapon blow before you're able to break even with other standard saving throws, when most weapon attacks deal around 10 damage (resulting in 3 less on the DC compared to other DC sources) . And you need to make 3 of those before an enemy starts to be severely impacted by it. Sure, that boss is finally at 3 stacks of Pain, but he's almost at full HP, when otherwise the players would have had him at half health.

With the addition to the system, you could say that bosses have advantage to Pain saving throws, but I think it's inherently hard to inflict Pain regularly, and even if it were a possibility (such as with Sneak Attack or Smites), you're still having to halve your damage on those abilities anyway, resulting in a major loss of one form or another.

Grod_The_Giant
2019-01-09, 05:47 PM
All fair points, but I feel like they're all justified in the existing system in their own way

A Called Shot is just BA + Attack, damage roll + proficiency. I guess some people might consider that complicated, but halving the damage total + Proficiency doesn't seem like too much, but it is definitely different from other mechanics, so it might need revision.
It's not bad, but more than anything else it strikes me as unnecessary. Nothing else in 5e requires two actions of any type to perform--it's not hard, but it's weird. Similarly, adding a bonus to damage and than halving it seems...redundant isn't quite the right word, because it's not a comparable amount, but adding both a bonus and a penalty is just weird. I don't think either point adds enough to the whole to justify breaking the usual design rules.


Making it just an attack is a possibility, but I wanted to make sure it wasn't a "free" option. It should be an active choice for someone to take. Although, truth be told, I'm not sure how the balance works out with something requiring a BA or not, so removing it isn't too hard. By making it require a Bonus Action, to me, it implies an intentional choice to use it rather than a tagalong you should be doing every chance you can.
Oh, it absolutely should be a thing you have to choose to do; I didn't mean it should be a free addition. I was thinking more like "okay, for my action, I'm going to make a Called Shot."


Exhaustion hurts attackers, true, but the level 3 feature also causes disadvantage to Saving Throws, and casters are more susceptible to that when considering things like Save spells against them or Concentration Saving Throws. A Barbarian with 3 stacks of Pain might be able to take an unsaved Fireball, but a Wizard probably can't.
But the Barbarian with 3 stacks of Pain will have a hard time reaching an opponent (or escaping!) and hitting them, while the Wizard can still hang back and toss a Fireball. I'm a fan of having lv2 Exhaustion also halve the range of weapons and spells, and lv 3 Exhaustion impose disadvantage on your attack rolls and grant opponents advantage on saves against your abilities.


Three actions can ruin a usual opponent on the battlefield (three turns attacking the same target will usually result in that target being dead, which is why we usually add mooks to boss fights). But additionally, these are Constitution saving throws, which bosses usually are quite effective in. They also usually have Legendary Resistances, being able to shrug off the effects.


With the existing system, a standard Called Shot would have a DC of (1d10 + 4)/2 + Proficiency. The DC of almost any other Saving Throw effect is 8+Modifier+Proficiency. Or, in other words, you need to deal at least 16 damage in a single weapon blow before you're able to break even with other standard saving throws, when most weapon attacks deal around 10 damage (resulting in 3 less on the DC compared to other DC sources) . And you need to make 3 of those before an enemy starts to be severely impacted by it. Sure, that boss is finally at 3 stacks of Pain, but he's almost at full HP, when otherwise the players would have had him at half health.

With the addition to the system, you could say that bosses have advantage to Pain saving throws, but I think it's inherently hard to inflict Pain regularly, and even if it were a possibility (such as with Sneak Attack or Smites), you're still having to halve your damage on those abilities anyway, resulting in a major loss of one form or another.
Fair point.

Man_Over_Game
2019-01-09, 06:01 PM
It's not bad, but more than anything else it strikes me as unnecessary. Nothing else in 5e requires two actions of any type to perform--it's not hard, but it's weird. Similarly, adding a bonus to damage and than halving it seems...redundant isn't quite the right word, because it's not a comparable amount, but adding both a bonus and a penalty is just weird. I don't think either point adds enough to the whole to justify breaking the usual design rules.


Spell smites with riders (Wrathful Smite, Searing Smite), Two Weapon Fighting, a Battle Master Fighter's Commander's Strike and Feinting Attack, Cavalier's Mark, and several other examples require an attack + Bonus Action.

Consider that the rules related to TWF says that:


Both weapons must be light.
Spend a Bonus Action to make an extra attack that's not an Extra Attack.
The first weapon deals full damage, but the second weapon deals no modifier damage.
However you can only draw one weapon at a time.



It's a little odd at first, but we've all accepted it as part of the core system (some more than others). Pain is a little bit weirder, in that it halves damage to add a proficiency, but I don't think it's that much weirder.

Most other combinations of Damage-to-DC, to loss of accuracy, to including bonuses from things like Sneak Attacks or Sharpshooter, or things of that nature that I tried to put together always ended up in one major imbalance over another, either having too high of a DC or having a DC that was static throughout the levels (so you'd never use it past level 6). The formula it is now was after a few revisions, but I'll keep hacking away at it for something else that feels more fluid while keeping with the balance.



But the Barbarian with 3 stacks of Pain will have a hard time reaching an opponent (or escaping!) and hitting them, while the Wizard can still hang back and toss a Fireball. I'm a fan of having lv2 Exhaustion also halve the range of weapons and spells, and lv 3 Exhaustion impose disadvantage on your attack rolls and grant opponents advantage on saves against your abilities.


"You have disadvantage to Perception checks to perceive anything beyond 30 feet, and you cannot perceive anything beyond 90 feet". Being exhausted makes you dizzy and hallucinate. I think this is an elegant solution to what you're describing.

Grod_The_Giant
2019-01-09, 07:16 PM
Spell smites with riders (Wrathful Smite, Searing Smite), Two Weapon Fighting, a Battle Master Fighter's Commander's Strike and Feinting Attack, Cavalier's Mark, and several other examples require an attack + Bonus Action.
Unless I'm missing something in how you intend Called Shots to work, there's a significant difference: all of those examples are two distinct things. You cast Searing Smite, and then attack. You attack with one hand, and then attack with the other. You use Feinting Attack, and then swing your sword. None of them are "as an action and a bonus action, do X." At the very least, I'd say "you can do this as an action, but due to the added focus you cannot take a bonus action or reaction until the start of your next turn," or something to that effect.


"You have disadvantage to Perception checks to perceive anything beyond 30 feet, and you cannot perceive anything beyond 90 feet". Being exhausted makes you dizzy and hallucinate. I think this is an elegant solution to what you're describing.
I'd add "you cannot accurately perceive anything beyond 90 feet," or "past 90 feet, you cannot perceive moving creatures well enough to target them," or something of that nature-- otherwise the implication is "I got really tired and now my vision just cuts off in a black wall." Otherwise yeah, seems legit.

Mith
2019-01-09, 10:24 PM
Pain already creates a Concentration Saving Throw by dealing damage (albeit, halved damage), and enough Pain (3 stacks) will force disadvantage on any future saving throws as per the Exhaustion table, including Concentration. So unless you can deal enough damage to break someone's Concentration in a single hit (need to deal 20+ damage in a single hit to have the amount of damage matter for Concentration Saving Throws), Pain is already a better method to deal with a mage than straight attacking (assuming you can't kill them in 3-4 hits).

Sorry for the misunderstanding with the Temporary Exhaustion. I guess you could just call it "Stress" rather than "Pain", (so you have Stress and Exhaustion), but inflicting "Stress" just doesn't have that nice ring to it that "Pain" does. I do see where you're getting at with using Temporary Exhaustion, though, just saying that regularly can get....exhausting.

Instead of "inflicting" Stress, you could Stress your opponent.

As far as recovery from Stress, I could see a short rest removing CON mod levels of Stress (Level 20 max CON barbarian goes from unconsciousness to normal in an hour, a 20 CON character has a bit of sore head for a while). This means that a less hardy character may be sore from a beating from early in the day during the evening, but will have recovered by morning.


Other means of recovery: I like the idea of being restored to full health, or a Lesser Restoration removing all levels of Stress. A house rule I am fond of is that Lesser Restoration heals 1 level of Exhaustion, with Greater Restoration removes all levels of Exhaustion, so this makes a good parallel IMO.

Fair point about Concentration saves. I was more looking at a minimisation of various Con save calculations to avoid confusions as to "what exactly you do now?"