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.