Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Catamaran - Setup

I ran my session 0.1 last week for Catamaran, creating a Smallville-esque relationship map to detail out the island the players are on. While I am still typing up parts of that, other parts of the campaign prep are good for sharing and hopefully someone will find them intersting.

Campaign Overview

Catamaran is a campaign set in an immense cluster of islands scattered across a vast ocean, reaching from the tropics in the northern section of the cluster to more temperate and even arctic regions in the far south. The players are inhabitants of one of these islands, all members of a tribe that calls that island home. The players will build the island through a relationship map based system where each player gets to add people, places, threats, etc, to the island and establish links between them. The players will be faced with threats to their people and their island, over time travelling among the island cluster, finding allies, lore, and other aids to deal with the threats at hand.

Exploration - There’s always another island just over the horizon with its own mysteries and treasures.

Glory - What does it mean to be a hero? What deeds can earn you glory?

Community - The man who stands alone has no one to watch when he sleeps.


The Deadlands

The Whale RiderThe Telling of the Birth of the World

When the traitorous children of Keruna Who Birthed the Sun Each Day slew their mother in the War Before, her corpse fell to the world in the great ocean now known as the Kerunan Sea. It was here that Keruna Who Birth the Sun Each Day shattered, her divine power unable to be contained in a damaged vessel. Three hundred and thirty-three fragments were created. These each fragments formed an island in the Kerunan Sea, all but one. That one the largest, the fragment that had been the heart of Keruna, became the first tribe of humans.

Each island formed from Keruna was born with a god that called it home, each god holding some small portion of Keruna’s power. These came in myriad forms; Haruk the Judge is a massive volcano, Brother Storm is a permanent thunderstorm cloaking his island, while Mergal Who Swallows All is a vast field of every growing fungi. These gods are never easily mobile beings and none of them can leave their island without also shedding their divine nature; instead each god can name a single mortal agent, a single cleric, to see to that god’s needs. These clerics are granted the powers of their god and are seen by their people as emissaries of the divine, though other islands often view them with varying degrees of respect based on the relationship between the patron gods of the two islands. Though some gods have grown bored and given up their divine nature in to become demigods exchange for adventure, most remain on their islands contemplating their place in the universe and working with their servants to fulfill it. Those islands left vacant by a god become home to druids who harvest the remaining divine power in the island to their own ends.

It is among the islands of the Keruna Sea, the Bones of the Sun as they are called by some, that your people trade, war, and make peace. There are stories of other realms, realms where the god who slew great Keruna hold sway over humanity, where weapons are forged in the bones of the earth and not wood and obsidian. These are tales of terror and woe, of despots and tyranny, used to frighten children and caution against fighting for conquest, but some are starting to think they are more than stories. The Isle of Bones

The Isle of Bones is well known among the Children of Keruna as it is where you take the dead to be interred so they may reach the afterlife in the Seas of the Dead, that realm left by Keruna for her followers to inhabit after her passing. The Isle of Bones is the domain of the Bone Witch, a god of death who makes sure the living and the dead receive their proper rewards. The remains of those of virtue are thrown into the volcano the Fire of Keruna so they can receive her blessing, while criminals and other ne’er-do-wells are taken to the Skullyard where their remains are used to serve the people they once wronged as undead. Corpses come from across the sea to be buried here and include offers in of food, wealth, etc, to ensure the corpses are properly treated by the Tribe of Bone. Also those who have not led virtuous lives can come to the island and serve in order to try and work off their sins, creating a population that is a mixture of families who have long been on the island and penitent criminals hoping to find their way into Keruna’s fiery embrace.

It is well known that the people of the Isle of Bones do the bidding of the Bone Witch, and so are welcomed politely but with fear when they leave their island. There have been times when the Bone Witch decreed the deaths of those outside the island, usually for inscrutable reasons, thus visits from the people of the Isle of Bone are always cause for alarm.

A split has developed on the Isle of Bone regarding the disposition of bodies. The Bone Witch is at best a misty presence that whispers to her cleric or when she sits in judgement, but she cannot personally judge all the corpses that come to the island. Thus overtime the leadership of the island, under the direction of the Baron/Baroness of the Bone Hall, has taken up the slack in helping decide who has earned a trip to the volcano and who is condemned to the Skullyard. Over time complaints of bribery and corruption have begun to circulate as known criminals whose bodies came with great offerings of wealth have been sent to the volcano despite their crimes. Thus far nothing too obvious or far over the line has happened, but it has created a rift between the inhabitants of the settlement who want to see the people of the island prosper and those who want to see the will of the Bone Witch be done. 

Races of Keruna

The following races are commonly found among the islands of Keruna. While others do crop up from time to time, usually from beyond the seas, they are very rare. The important thing to remember is most of these races live intermixed; only scalefolk, tritons, and goliaths really live apart from the other races. Thus most races do not have their own culture, territory, etc, and instead have been absorbed by the Tribes of Keruna.
  • Aasimar - Born of divine power, aasimar have been known form in areas where Keruna’s power is particularly strong. They are seen as a good luck charm by most tribes and readily adopted. 
  • Demigod - A god who has left their island, and most of their power, to find adventure elsewhere in the world. 
  • Dragonborn - The dragons were creatures beyond Keruna who came to settle in the islands ages ago and have created dragonborn to serve as servants. While rare, occasionally dragonborn eggs are found and raised by tribes. 
  • Genasi - Born of the elements, these beings are spontaneously created when the elemental powers of an island grow too great. 
  • Goliath - The mountain people, they live among the taller peaks found on the larger mountains of the Kerunan Sea. They are said to be outcasts from the Godless Lands from beyond the Kerunan Sea and shunned by most Children of Keruna. 
  • Scalefolk - A race of lizardmen who often raid the tribes of the Kerunan Sea. Not all are hostile, but most are. They are said to be born from the remains of a god that was slain in the battle that killed Keruna, that nameless god’s body falling among the remains of Keruna and forming the Vermid Islands, home of the scalefolk. 
  • Tiefling - Born with the blood of the infernal in their veins, tieflings are mainly found near the Hellspont, a region of the Kerunan Sea known for having a weakened border with the Hell Realms. 
  • Tribes of Keruna - The inhabitants of the islands of Keruna, they are found just about everywhere. Human stats.
  • Triton - A race of aquatic humanoids, they live in pockets throughout the Kerunan Sea. Broken up into clans, most of the local tritons are refugees or colonists from the distant Tritus Empire. They are not native to the Kerunan Sea, but have been using it as a refuge from the Empire for decades.


All classes in the 5E Players Handbook, plus the mystic playtest and the rune mage playtest, are available.

Barbarians are often either members of more primitive tribes where their rage is seen as the tribe’s martial strength, or loners in more civilized tribes who may be shunned for their anger until danger comes around. Barbarians sometimes gather in totemic or warrior lodges, teaching and sharing in their secrets. Some such lodges are tied to the god of the island.

Bards are the diplomats, historians, and storytellers of the Kerunan Sea. Many tribes rely on oral tradition for their stories, and those that do have written word usually do not have in depth language.
While there may be many who sing or tell stories, only true bards are worthy of the title. These individuals have been given the language of Keruna, the Godspeak, letting them work magic through song and fill the spirits of others with power. This gift can only be passed from one bard to another, and all bards have a code among themselves they follow because they call carry the Word of Keruna:
  • Do not attack a fellow bard until words have been had 
  • Do not steal from a fellow bard without asking first 
For each island there can be one god. For each god there is one cleric whose domain is determined by their god. So if a player chooses to play a cleric, at least one island controlled by the tribe has a god living on it. If there are multiple cleric PCs, then the tribe must control multiple islands in some fashion (same with druids). Despite being unable to leave their island physically, gods can communicate with each other and have rivalries and relationships with other gods. Clerics of these gods are expected to carry out these rivalries and alliances for their god.

For those islands where there is no god, there can be a druid. You cannot have a druid and a cleric drawing power and living on the same island. If there is a druid and a cleric in the party the tribe controls some secondary island. Druids are usually friendly outsiders, living outside the tribe but allied with it.
The druid of an island will normally pass on his title to a student when he or she gets too old to see their duties (assuming they still age, as high level druids have abilities that affect that). If a druid is slain without an heir the power of the druid may be claimed by anyone who befriends the spirits of the island.


Fighters are normally found in warrior lodges among the tribes of the Kerunan Sea, each dedicated to a specific fighting style it uses to defend its tribe.

Nothing special yet.

Nothing special yet.

There are only six paladins in the world, all inheriting their abilities from a previous paladin, all of whom get their power from the Knights of the Sun that once served Keruna. They retain a pure fragment of her power. If a paladin dies without an initiated apprentice, that fragment of Keruna’s power is lost. There used to be hundreds of paladins, but they have died out over time. 

Paladins are often allied or train with the warrior lodge of their tribe.

Rangers use the new ranger version from Unearth Arcana. Rangers harvest power like druids, but generally harvest so little they can do so despite the presence of a god on their current island.

Rogues are sneaky fuckers.


Sorcerers are those who have magical abilities due to the blood in their veins, their ancestors having some non-human blood in their veins. Many say wild magic sorcerers are descended from the gods that rose up against Keruna.

Warlocks are widely feared within the Kuernan Sea as they make deals with forces outside the world to get power that is not meant for them. Only those few warlocks called to serve the Parliament of Ages are not at least somewhat ostracized.

When Keruna was slain twenty five stars fell to earth with her and bound with members of the first tribe of humans. These became the first wizards. There can only every be twenty five wizards, and as they grow more powerful they become less and less human/mortal, slowly turning into beings of star stuff. When a wizard is slain, the closest suitable host becomes gains the capacity to wield a wizard's arcane power.

Mechanics to follow in later posts.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Freehold - Catamaran

Recently at my new job I met a fellow who was running his first table top game ever using 5E D&D, having only recently gotten into table top gaming. He has been kind enough to let me spew ideas and chaotic recollections of thirty years of table top experience at him, a process I find deeply enjoyable and he seems to get something out of so I will keep vomiting. In our conversations I brought up some of the ideas I had been working with in freehold, and my other ideas about running something like a South Pacific D&D game. He was super into that idea, so I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’ve had a lot of writer’s block lately, so hopefully gushing on this for an evening will help shake other things loose.

The campaign I’ve been thinking of, which so far is codenamed Catamaran for reasons that will become obvious later, would see the players as inhabitants of a small, tropical island with a single village who have to look beyond their island to save their people and village. To that end they must travel to other islands their people have actually visited, others that they know only in the stories of the elders, and still others known only in legend. In the process they meet gods, sea monsters, empires, and more, becoming entwined in an ever growing world connected by boats and wind. Thematically think Swashbuckling Battlestar Galactica of the South Pacific.

I want the game to feel and look (at least mentally) as appropriate to the setting inspiration as possible. No metal armor or weapons, focus on boats and water, etc. To that end I’ve been thinking about some changes to make to the existing 5E mechanics to get the feel I want. This in addition to most of the Freehold stuff I’ve already posted. So it will be a campaign about building up your village of limited resources, getting trade goods for treasure, retiring due to serious injuries, etc.

The core idea behind these changes is making the world of the PCs the default, and the world beyond them use different rules. The players are armed with wood, stone, bone, and obsidian weapons, so those are the standard 5E weapons and metal weapons are “better” than those. I don’t want the player running around in a lot of armor as it goes against the aesthetic, so there are some tweaks to the armor system to encourage that while making normal physical armor more cumbersome.

These are the changes I’ve thought of so far:


Armor comes in two forms in Catamaran: normal physical armor, and spirit armor (working title).  When a player gets proficiency in armor they can choose if they have the appropriate physical armor proficiency (light, medium, heavy), or the appropriate spirit armor proficiency (again light medium heavy).

Physical Armor:

Physical armor is the armor that currently exists in 5E. In setting anything other than light physical armor is super rare due to the lack of metal. I may add a wood based suit of medium armor, and there is hide armor as well, but they are all uncommon. Players will only start out with access to non-metal armor. Metal armor is supposed to be scary and alien, something only strangers from distant lands use, but still temping to players. There are four differences from the core 5E rules:
  • While wearing medium or heavy physical armor you suffer disadvantage on all Athletics checks to swim. Players are going to be on boats A LOT, so this will matter. 
  • If you wear heavy or medium physical armor before taking a long rest, you suffer disadvantage on your Survival check to rest assuming the weather was typical of what you get in the tropics. See Freehold documents previously posted.
  • If you are wearing heavy armor and suffer exhaustion, you suffer one extra level of exhaustion. 
  • Medium armor gains DR 3/magic weapons and heavy armor gains DR 6/magic weapons. Feats that grant similar bonuses increase these numbers.

Spirit Armor

The culture of the players has developed a ritual based magic using tattoos, fetishes, totems, and other objects that can grant their warriors protection by wrapping the spirits of their ancestors around the warriors. After the tattoos are inscribed, the warrior must perform a ritual to “don” the spirit armor, so effectively the warriors must do something like the maori haka to turn on his spirit armor. This spirit armor works exactly like the existing armor types in D&D; it provides AC, can inflict disadvantage on Stealth, etc. The cost of the ingredients to get the tattoos, the fetishes, totems, etc, are exactly the same as normal armor in D&D. The names will be something like Spirit Armor of the Honored General instead of plate mail, but numbers wise it all works the same. Armor that has disadvantage on Stealth has noisy spirits in it who wail or chant, while spirit armor that slows you down makes you do awesome slow-motion walk with thundering footfalls everywhere you go.

Players would probably use spirit armor and fight other people using spirit armor for most of the campaign, occasionally running into people in physical armor who have not learned the same rituals or are willing to put up with the disadvantages of physical armor. Long term the campaign would eventually come into contact with more metal rich and metallurgically advanced civilizations that can equip all their foot soldiers with metal armor, changing the balance of power significantly. But for most of the game, a guy in plate mail would be completely unknown, or if one does show up you try and knock him into the water since drowning him is probably easier than beating him up. Note that since I plan on using the Glory system, players will likely have access to magic weapons as needed to penetrate physical armor DR.


Player weapons will generally be made of bone, wood, obsidian, and stone. Again metal will not be a thing for most the game. To that end my plan is to have the comparatively primitive weapons of the players be the baseline; a longsword made of wood edged with obsidian has the same stats as a normal longsword, while a great axe made of whale bone with a giant obsidian head has the same stats as a normal great axe (though is obviously way more METAL). Metal weapons on the other hand are always at least masterwork, and more often are effectively magical. A bronze weapon may count as masterwork, while an iron weapon may be a +1 weapon, a steel weapon +2, etc. This means players may upgrade over time to metal weapons, except those weapons cannot benefit from Glory bonuses and other magics of the players’ home culture. Also it is assumed that player weapons float, which may become important more often than you think since they will be on boats a lot. Between the armor rules and these weapon rules, something like a Roman Legionnaire becomes a magic weapon wielding, damage resistant tank you should be scared of…but also someone who can’t really last in the heat of the campaign setting, can’t swim in armor, etc.

In addition to all this, I want to add flintlock firearms. These are likely going to be the remains of precursor civilizations that previously inhabited the islands the players call home, but I think it will add some interesting juxtaposition to the game. Also I want firearms to ignore all AC benefit of physical armor; medium and heavy armor would still get their DR, but it’s really easy to shoot someone in plate mail. Hurting the target is another matter. 

Other Mechanics

Currently I plan to use all the existing 5E classes, though they are going to have to fit in some specific roles (for example only the Fire Mountain, God of Justice and Mercy, has paladins while Warlocks are getting a new set of patrons. Yes, the volcano god is a lawful good god of justice). I’ll post them as I come up with them. As for races I plan on using the 5E core where they fit, plus adding aquatic versions of a few races. Backgrounds are getting largely burned down and rebuilt from the ground up.

I’ve also got some ideas for feats for specific fighting styles, like an escrima stick based fighting style.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Freehold: Glory

In the earliest stages of writing up Freehold I showed the first draft of the wounds/fumbles mechanics to Samhaine and he recommended mechanics that rewarded players for putting themselves in situations where they have to take wounds, sacrifice equipment, etc to survive. Narratively there can should be rewards for this, such as standing in the face of overwhelming odds to defend your village, but a continually relevant mechanical reason for biting off more than you can chew seemed a good idea. His initial idea was something like the Glory system from Pendragon, which I liked for that game (despite its many, many flaws), but wanted to do something different. Being a lover of David Gemmel-esque heroic last stands and just wrapping up the Spartacus television show (again lots of doomed last stands) I came up with what I see as my own version of Glory, as described below. Hopefully it will encourage players put themselves into harms way more than simple treasure of experience points.

Through actions in game characters can earn Glory, which measures the character’s heroic accomplishments in the world. You do not get Glory for defeating a random bandit in combat; you get experience points and loot. You get Glory for fighting off a squad of soldiers in single-handedly, saving a village from a flood, or destroying a relic of an enemy pantheon. Epic, large scale actions earn Glory, not fighting reasonable foes, looting the dead, or stealing from those who cannot defend themselves. All PCs begin with 1 Glory representing past deeds of note, but most characters in the world do not accumulate Glory. They are boring and doomed to mediocrity. Part of the random character creation process determines what event earned the character their first point of Glory, awakening their legendary potential.

Glory is hard to earn and only comes through deeds of great risk, thus driving players to use the Wound and Fumble system to push their luck in fighting foes they would normally avoid in the hopes of securing Glory. During each session the character keeps a running tally of all the actions that have earned them Glory during the session. At the end of the session they compare the highest single Glory reward during the session to their current Glory; if this number is higher than your current Glory it becomes your new Glory. Thus you cannot achieve the heights of Glory with lots of small deeds, you must go large or go home. Hopefully this will drive some competition among players over who can do the most glorious deeds, and help newer characters catch up to older ones as many deeds take character level into account when calculating Glory. What is glorious for a farmer's apprentice may be old hat to a seasoned veteran. Each player should write down their most glorious deed from each session to keep a track of their legend.

The Glory record from each adventure resets. Adventures stop when your characters return to a safe location and rest for multiple days. This will hopefully encourage players not to head back to the tavern and rest for a week every time they get injured.

Glory can be lost through actions of cowardice or dishonor as determined by your culture and religion. If you commit an act that would lose you Glory, it is counted as a penalty to all individual Glory awards earned during that adventure. So if you committed a glorious deed worth 6 Glory but committed a crime that costs you -2 Glory, your highest Glory deed for the adventure is treated as a 4 Glory deed rather than 6 Glory. Like with earning Glory, only the largest negative Glory penalty for each adventure is counted. One inglorious deed can taint an entire quest.

If a character goes three sessions without a deed as glorious as their greatest deed, their Glory will lower to the highest level achieved in the last adventure. Thus if you do not continually work to achieve great things, your legend will eventually fade.

Glory is passed down within a family or clan, so if you retire a character or the character dies, your new character inherits half your previous character’s Glory, assuming they have some manner of link (family, master/apprentice, adoption, etc). This is the character’s base Glory and their Glory will not drop below this level without dishonorable deeds coming into play. If you come from a great family you can bring your lineage to bear, but if you dishonor your family name you will suffer for it.

Most characters should have Glory roughly equal to their level, though at lower levels most characters will have more than this average and at higher level they will have less. I’m imagining something like 4 Glory being average for up to fourth level, while being above 10 will be rare. Over successive generations of characters this average is likely to go up as characters inherit their previous generation’s Glory.
Some classes and feats can alter Glory rewards:

  • Bards can increase the Glory earned by a limited number of other characters a small amount after each adventure. This represents the Bard spreading word of their deeds far and wide and is a class ability. The Glory of a bard never drops below the average of the companions he travels with. Bards can also work to undermine the Glory of others, limiting their Glory over time by spreading tales of their defeats and failures. 
  • Rogues automatically reduce any negative Glory incurred during a session by a limited amount. Thieves gonna thieve. 

Glory can be invested in a number of ways. The first point of Glory that players begin with is always invested in getting the PC +10 hit points. Additional Glory can be:
  • Invested in relics to increase their level (must be a member of the same faith). Each point of Glory increases the relic’s level by one. If the relic is destroyed the invested Glory is lost. 
  • Invested in places of power to increase their level. Each point of Glory increases the place of power’s level by one. If the place of power is destroyed the invested Glory is lost. 
  • Invested in a weapon or suit of armor, giving it a magical bonus. Creating a +1 item requires 1 Glory, while upgrading that item to a +2 item requires 2 Glory, and upgrading it further to +3 requires 3 Glory. So making a +3 piece of equipment requires 6 Glory. If the item is destroyed the Glory is lost. 
  • Getting Blessings of Glory, that are long term minor boosts. 
  • Invest it in a title suitable to the achievements that earned you the Glory. This title will be known far and wide, but how far and wide is dependent on how much Glory is invested. 
  • Invested in the village to improve its defenses or reputation. 
  • Glory may be spent and lost, each point of Glory allowing the player to reroll any one die roll.

Glory Rewards

All combat rewards are given to all the characters that took part in the combat.  Each race, background, class, faith, and culture has its own list of deeds for earning and losing Glory, meaning a character from one culture may lose Glory for an action that earns Glory for a character of another culture.  

Generic Actions That Reward Glory
Glory Reward
Winning a Battle at 2:1 odds
Winning a Battle at 3:1 odds
Winning a Battle at 4:1 odds or better
Winning a battle at 1:2 odds
Winning a battle at 1:3 odds
Winning a battle at 1:4 odds or worse
Every +1 CR your opponent is over your level
Being convicted of a crime against your own people (committing crimes against other social groups is fine a long as the act is not particularly offensive to your own people)
-1 to -3

Defended the traditions of your people at great cost

Destroying a Relic of an Enemy Pantheon
Cleric or Paladin
1 per relic level
Researching a new spell/finding a previously lost spell
1 per spell level
Defeat an enemy in a declared duel of honor
Fighter or Paladin
+1 to a battle’s Glory total
Suffer a wound to protect others or turn the tide
Barbarian, Fighter, or Paladin
+1 to a battle’s Glory total
Fleeing a battle after it is joined
Fighter or Paladin
-1 to a battle’s Glory total
Refusing an honor duel
Fighter or Paladin
-1 to a battle’s Glory total

Defend the Common People
Folk Hero
+1 to a battle’s Glory total

I like this system on a number of levels aside from incentivizing players to use some of the other mechanics I've introduced.  
  1. It mechanically enforces racial and cultural expectations on the player, helping convey a sense of setting.
  2. It helps transform Freehold from being merely gritty low fantasy to being heroic low fantasy where characters accomplish amazing things but pay for it with scars and pain.  
  3. It gives players some self driving goals that relate to their race, class, background, and culture.  Clerics, paladins, and druids may well change an entire session's goal if they find out there is a high level relic of an enemy faith nearby they can destroy.  

Friday, April 1, 2016

Freehold: Healing, Item Loss, and Economy

The discussion on these posts thus far has been super useful to me and things have changed in the previously posted text, but I'd rather charge boldly and then review!  


After talking with Harbinger of Doom after the last post I thought that the overall increase in threat level and player wish to avoid taking wounds will put a lot of pressure on healing characters to use all their spells to heal, which is not really much fun in the grand scheme of things. So I wanted to make some changes to healing.  

All magical healing and healing from class abilities in Freehold grant temporary hit points instead of healing normal hit points unless otherwise stated (there will be some new spells for specifically healing hit points normally at a lower rate of return).  Healing from healing kits are normal hit points, as are hit points recovered from long or short rests and hit points gained from taking wounds.

Reaction Actions

My hope is to provide more options for all players to use their reactions, even if they do not have class abilities or feats that provide them.  
  • Give Ground: As a reaction you can reduce the damage of a melee attack by 1d6 by moving five feet away from the attacker.  The attacker can follow you without provoking an attack of opportunity.  (blatantly stolen from Harbinger of Doom)
  • Self-Block: As a reaction you can use this to interpose yourself in the path of an attack meant for an adjacent ally.  This is declared before the attack is rolled and the ally can refuse it.  The attack is applied to you and you gain no benefit from your Dexterity against it, thus if you are wearing platemail you can jump in front of attacks meant for your allies and have some hope of remaining unhurt, but doing so in leather is dangerous.

Primitive Economy

The land of Freehold is not a civilized one and certain advances, such as coinage or metal armor, are not common yet.  In the more advanced realms to the south such things are commonplace, but here in the frozen north people make do with more basic goods.  Instead of rewards and trade being done in coin, it is done in goods and barter.  To that end there is a concept of Supplies, that is rated in days.  A day of Supplies is roughly equal to 1 sp and one must be consumed each day or the character begins starving.  Each day of Supplies weighs one pound.  So players are likely to have a store of Supplies at their residence, but only carry a limited number in the field.  Extra supplies can be consumed each day to represent a higher standard of living, which provides other benefits.

Number of Supplies Consumed Per Day
+1 Hit dice per long rest
+2 Hit dice per long rest, get temp hit points equal to level after each short rest
+3 Hit dice per long rest,
+4 Hit dice per long rest

In addition to Supplies, there are Trade Goods.  Trade goods are generic goods of higher value than Supplies and cannot be consumed to survive; they may be used in crafting items like alchemy, magic items, etc. Trade goods come in various qualities, some of which may be required for certain goods.  For example, making potions of healing may require at least uncommon trade goods, while making a healing kit only requires common.  Generally speaking, you can only use trade goods to make an item if the trade goods are worth 5% of the value of the item (you can’t use pig iron to make plate mail).  

Value Per Pound
Common (Wood, Leather, Iron, Coal, etc)
1 gp
Uncommon (Steel, Cotton, Silver, etc)
10 gp
Rare (Spices, Gold, Silk, High Quality Steel, etc.)
100 gp
Very Rare (spider silk, adamantium etc)
1000 gp

Loot from many monsters will be in Supplies, Trade Goods, and actual items (which are usually non-magical). Defeating a group of bandits may result in finding a bunch of Supplies, Trade Goods, some goats, a handful of simple weapons, and maybe one battleaxe. Coins are a rarity, usually only found in the hands of foreigners.  

At the beginning of the campaign the player village can only manufacture a limited selection of goods, but this is increased by village upgrades.  For example, if one of the players selects a background that puts an alchemist in the village, they can get healing potions if they bring enough trade goods to the alchemist.  This will create a resource game for the players instead of counting coins, and will allow for the accumulation of healing and other support gear that will hopefully take some of the pressure off of the party healers.  Over time as the alchemist is upgraded by the players, better items become available.  

Some items can be used to upgrade facets of the village.  For example, if the players manage to get their hands on ten suits of chain mail armor, they could turn the village’s militia unit of Light Infantry into Heavy Infantry. Alternately they could make that armor out of trade goods if they have upgraded their smithy, or they could buy it if they travel to the Empire with enough coin or valuable goods to trade for it. Thus a wider array of mundane items will be valuable to the players.  

At character creation any cash left after buying gear is converted at a rate of 1 sp to one unit of Supplies.  This inefficient rate is to encourage people to spend as much of their starting money as possible.  

At the beginning of the campaign only limited equipment is available:
  • Weapons: Only simple weapons, though classes with proficiency in other weapons start with one non-simple weapon. It should have some explanation for where it came from as the village does not have the capacity to manufacture such things; random character generation will provide such background.  
  • Armor: Only Leather, Padded, Hide, and Ring Mail armor and shields are available.  
  • Other Items: Anything out of the means of a primitive culture should be off limits.  



On any attack that uses a weapon a character character may take a voluntary fumble to get a reroll on an attack.  After the reroll is resolved, roll 1d20 on the table below.  

Injured Self: You somehow managed to strike yourself for base damage of your weapon.  
Broken: The weapon breaks and can no longer be used.  High quality weapons become normal weapons until repaired.  Magical weapons have their plus decreased by -1 for the remainder of the battle, though if this occurs with a magic weapon when it has already been reduced to +0 the weapon breaks.
Stuck: The weapon is stuck in the target and requires a successful grapple against the target to retrieve it.  The target may be at disadvantage on some actions at DM discretion.  
Thrown: Your weapon somehow left your control and flew 1d6x5 feet in a random direction.  Recovering the weapon requires moving to the weapon and spending an action.
Dropped: You dropped your weapon.  Recovering the weapon requires an action.  

Armor and Shield Fumble

A character wearing armor or using a shield can cause their attacker to have to reroll by rolling on the Armor Fumble  table below.  Note that a suit of armor and a shield count separately for armor damage, so you may force one reroll with your armor and one with your shield as long as your shield is in hand.  

Broken: The base AC of the armor is reduced by -1.  If the armor is reduced to 10 the suit of armor is destroyed and cannot be repaired.  If it is not reduced to 10 by the end of the battle, it can be repaired by anyone with the appropriate tools.  
Prone: You are knocked prone.  
Off Balance: Your are knocked off balance and have disadvantage on all your attacks during the next round.  
Knocked Loose/Dropped: Your armor is knocked loose or you drop your shield.  Your armor loses -1 AC, but this can be restored with an action.  You can pick your shield up with an action.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Freehold: Rests and Wounds

To see what I'm talking about with my Freehold 5E project, go here: Freehold

One of the early concepts I wanted to work into Freehold was a longer term downside to combat.  My design goal is to make combat something players enter into only with great consideration; violence is something you use to solve problems when nothing else will do, not something you use casually to solve problems because mechanically you suffer no drawbacks for doing so after sleeping it off for eight hours.   Thus far, this design goal took two main mechanical forms, changing the rest mechanics and introducing a more persistent wounding system.  The changes to the rest system I think are more straightforward, so here those are:


To take a long rest, characters must make a Survival check to successfully complete the long rest (alternately could do it as individual Con saves).  If they are in a group one character can make the roll for everyone.  The difficulty is generally 15.  Characters get advantage on this check for any of the following reasons:
  • Staying in a maintained building like an inn or house.  
  • Magically enhanced food or water (lembas bread).
  • A ranger is making your party’s roll and you are in that ranger’s favored terrain.
Characters get disadvantage on this check for any of the following reasons:
  • Lack of food, water, or shelter.
  • Staying in hostile territory (sleeping in a dungeon).
  • Severe weather.
  • The Majority of the party is sleeping in medium or heavy armor.  
Alternately some things may provide bonuses instead of flat advantage/disadvantage in order to make more things important (since advantage cancels out any amount of disadvantage), but that seems to be getting away from the design of 5E.  

If this check is failed the party does not complete a long rest and gains none of the benefits for doing so (though they are considered to have carried out a short rest).  If the party does complete the long rest they gain the normal benefits of a long rest except they do not regain all their hit points (but they do regain their hit dice).  Thus players will have to be more careful about expending resources and picking fights as their recovery from these fights is far less certain.  

Short rests remain the same.  

That all seems relatively straight forward.  

Originally I had planned on something for wounds where if you ever were reduced to 0 hit points, you had a chance of suffering a wound, maybe with a Con save to resist.  Wounds would be things like permanently losing a hit point off your total or maybe a roll on some table like in the DMG for specific injuries.  This works in that in makes injuries something to be feared and a reason to avoid combat, but I also fear it makes them too punitive and random.  In thinking about this I was reminded of how much I like the Health/Injury/Wound system from the Song of Ice and Fire RPG, where effectively Health = Hit Points and players can take Injuries and Wounds when they choose to reduce the damage of an incoming attack at the cost of taking a long term injury that penalizes all their rolls.  Thus players do take long term injuries (not permanent though, Injuries generally require days to heal and Wounds weeks), but only when the player decides they need to really stay in a fight at the cost of long term effectiveness as opposed to random chance.  

Along those lines, I worked on the following system where players could choose to suffer wounds to heal damage.  

Whenever a character is struck in combat they can choose to take a wound, reducing the damage from the attack that just hit them by their Constitution+Level.  If a character is already at 0 hit points or below, they can take a wound to heal a number of hit points equal to their Constitution+Level.  Each time the character takes a wound, the player may select one of the following effects of the wound; each time the same option is taken the effects get worse, so characters over time will want to spread their wounds around.  Each additional wound effect is cumulative, so if you take a Dexterity penalty from two wounds you suffer -3 Dexterity total.  
A character can take at most four wounds per combat.  Taking a fifth wound is automatically a lethal wound (see below).  

1st Wound
2nd Wound
3rd Wound
4th Wound
-5 Movement
-5 Movement
-10 Movement
-1 Strength
-2 Strength
-3 Strength
-1 Dexterity
-2 Dexterity
-3 Dexterity
-1 Constitution
-2 Constitution
-3 Constitution
-1 Intelligence
-2 Intelligence
-3 Intelligence
-1 Wisdom
-2 Wisdom
-3 Wisdom
-1 Charisma
-2 Charisma
-3 Charisma
Injured Hand*
Injured Arm*
Injured Hand*
-1 Hit Point
-2 Hit Points
-3 Hit Points
-4 Hit Points*

Hit Points: You can always choose to lose more hit points and the loss continues at one additional hit point per wound.   
Injured Arm: You lose of one of your arms.  You cannot use any items with that arm.  Injured Hand: You lose use of one of your hands.  You cannot use two-handed items, but you can use one-handed items of you strap them to your arm.  

If the wound is not healed before the character next takes a long rest, the losses become permanent.   

At any point a character can choose to suffer a lethal wound and go out with a blaze of glory.  He immediately regains full hit points and any Glory spent in the combat is not considered lost when determining the Glory of the character’s heir.  At the end of the combat the character immediately dies if he is not dead already.  

The idea would be that players take on wounds over the course of the campaign as they encounter battles that are important and difficult enough to make sacrifices to win, and characters would eventually get a point where they would retire because they can no longer function as adventurers.  I went with ability score damage instead of specific injuries (aside from the Injured Hand/Arm options) as those seemed simpler than saying "Head wound, disadvantage on some skill checks" and it used mechanics that were already part of 5E.   

I like the idea of wounds being a player instigated sacrifice rather than a randomly inflicted punishment, but I also worry that without a significant change in the encounter design of 5E it would never happen.  Part of my plan for Freehold was to scale fights towards the hard side of things, having lots of valiant stands against overwhelming odds and such.  I also want to make most of the major, difficult fights be situations where there is something majorly important to the players at stake aside from their lives, such as defending their village, saving a relic of their faith, etc.  I really want minimize the "combat for loot" incentive and focus more on combat for self defense, territory control, religious/cultural conflict, taking prisoners for ransom (and thus minimize looting corpses as a income stream), etc.  

I also worry that without the forced taking of wounds via a system without player control, I can't make the wounds punishing enough to be impactful while also making them an attractive option in battle.  Given the above mechanics, a wizard could take a bunch of Strength wounds, representing muscle damage or some such, and not really suffer much loss of effectiveness.  I could group things, such that any wound comes with a hit point loss in addition to ability score loss, and losing hit points permanently is a fast route to retirement.  

I've come up with some additional mechanics so players can choose to expend other resources to get advantages (Weapon and Armor Damage Mechanics), in addition to mechanics to encourage players to take on more dangerous odds than they normally would (Glory), but I will post those later this week so avoid having one massively long blog post for the week.