Author Topic: 10 ways I "fixed" 4e for my low magic game  (Read 929 times)

Moniker

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10 ways I "fixed" 4e for my low magic game
« on: December 02, 2008, 06:52:21 PM »
am pulling together some of the houserules we've adopted to suit our playstyle and gaming type. In short, it's low magic, high politics, high roleplay where the world is dangerous, no matter what level you are.

Feedback and criticisms welcome. I am always looking for new ideas or modifications to have this work out better.


1 - Scaling Skill System
Meaning, I use the skill tables based on easy, moderate and difficult to dictate if you can scale up the torsion ropes inside of a millhouse, swim againgst the current in the river, hide and sneak around the band of soldiers storming through the city, or bend the ear of a crooked man to spread the right rumors. I have dubbed this the "Oblivion Effect", since levels in my game don't necessarily mean you get better, so much as you become more diverse in what you know. Which leads to my next rule...

2 - Scaling Combat and Social Challenges
Combat is either easy, moderate or hard difficulty based on the player character's average level. Meaning, those level 2 guards at player level 3 will still be a challenge when the players are level 10. They "scale" upward, in a sense, but have a general challenge rating assigned to them (easy, moderate or hard).

Not only that, most (if not all foes) are Minions with exception to "named" or important foes the players face. This helps streamline combat, allows me to use waves of foes and let the players feel heroic while embracing the ideal of the Oblivion Effect. Or, I simply cut their HP into 1/2.

3 - Better material, better arms and armor
Much akin to the Robert E. Howard novels, "adventurers" are the stuff of pulp magazines, and their foes wield dark sorcery. Armor and weapons are not enchanted whatsoever, since magic technically isn't readily available to players. BUT you can get better weapons and armor. This is based on the Mearls code to address low magic games, broken down by material. The link posted outlines not only the bonuses by weapon and additional enhancements, but a truer economic system based on Grain Into Gold. http://www.thecbg.org/e107_plugins/forum/forum_viewtopic.php?58833

Additionally, heavier and better armor grants bonus HP. This fixes the issue with a Fighter with high Dex wearing Hide+Shield instead of wearing Scale+Shield, due to the return on investment. This leads to...

4 - No. Healing. Surge. Tracking. Whatsoever.
My players absolulely abhorr having to husband powers, along with managing multiple numbers on their sheet. They want to focus on roleplay and tactics than elsewise. Since we don't use healing surges, this means whenever the Warlord uses his Stand the Fallen power or others that allow a healing surge, players roll a d20 and add their Healing bonus to mend wounds, or can Take 10 + Heal skill (if trained) to mend their wounds with the new general class power Bind Wounds.

5 - Second Wind, Bind Wounds, Sleep power
Second Wind exists, but mends your own HP equal to a d20+Healing bonus, or Take 10 + Healing skill if you're trained. You can do this once an encounter.

Additionally, you can Bind Wounds as an encounter power which does the same thing. However, this can only be done to yourself or an ally once per day. This eliminates the exploit to "heal train" people by each other constantly binding one another. It can be used on anyone, and is standard to all classes. This gives a reason for people to train Heal outside of disease treatment.

Sleep is a daily power available to all classes. I invented this power to eliminate the "extended rest" term from player vocabulary to keep them from breaking immersion. As suggested, it equals a Take 20 and add Healing skill whenever you take an extended rest.

6 - Bloodied!
I am a fan of players acting out their wounds, and treating the in-game world around them in the same respect when gauging how they react in situations that may result in combat. We like a more gritty and realistic game, and so we introduced a modified condition track similar to SWG. Once you're bloodied, you take a -1 to every die roll you make. If you're hit again while bloodied, you take a -2 (cumulative to -6). It takes either Sleep or a Bind Wounds to move up the condition track by one point. If you Sleep for the evening and a trained healer Binds Wounds, you move 3 up the track. It's fast, quick and easy - and since we don't use the Barbarian or other magic-based classes who's powers trigger on the Bloodied condition, we use this to measure serious wounds. This makes the world a bit more believable when it comes to tending wounds, and encourages people to use other options like retreating or parlaying with their enemies (or engineering a social encounter based on a change in disposition).

7 - Death and Dying
When your hit points drop to 0 or fewer, you fall unconscious and are dying. You need to make a saving throw at the end of your turn each round. The result of your saving throw determines low long it takes you to recover. You get three tries; if you fail the third roll, you are dead. An ally can make a moderate difficulty Heal check to give you a +2 bonus to your save as a Standard action.

¦ Successful 1st roll '“ you immediately recover to 1/4HP and are no longer unconscious. You lose any unused Action Points or powers that are not At-Will until you take a short rest.

¦ Successful 2nd roll - you immediately recover to 1/4HP and are no longer unconscious. You lose any unused Action Points or powers that are not At-Will and are Weakened until you take a short rest.

¦ Successful 3nd roll - you immediately recover to 1/4HP and are no longer unconscious. You lose any unused Action Points or powers that are not At-Will and are Weakened until you take an extended rest.

8 - Flourish
By far, one of my favorite rules (next to #10). If all players during a combat round narrate their actions in concert, a cumulative +1 can be added to damage. This ranges from +1 to +6, depending on how many rounds the players elect to narrate. During skill challenges, it applied to skill checks.

9 - Natural 20 and 1
When you roll a natural 20 during combat, you can instantly refresh any one Power of your choice or gain 1 Action Point. When you roll a natural 1 during combat, all foes have Combat Advantage against you.

10 -Tasty Treats!
If you bring snacks that everyone can share with to the game, results in +20% EXP per session


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bind Wounds
Class Ability 1

You make use of your healing knowhow
to bind your own or an allies
wounds, both in and out of combat.

Encounter  Healing, Impliment
Standard Action
Target: One creature

Special: You or an ally can Take 10
and add your Healing skill bonus to
recover hit points. You must have a
healing kit onhand to make use of
this ability, and cannot Bind
Wounds to the same ally more than
once per day.


Second Wind
Class Ability 1

Your dig into your resolve and
endurance to find an extra burst of
vitality.
Encounter
Standard Action
Target: Self

Special:
You can Take 10 and add
your Healing skill bonus to recover
hit points. This can only be used
during combat.


Sleep
Class Ability 1

A good night of rest is the cure-all
for the woes of yesterday.

Daily
Extended Rest
Target: Self

Special: When you take an extended
rest, you can Take 20 and add your
Healing skill bonus to recover hit
points.

« Last Edit: December 02, 2008, 06:53:21 PM by Vreeg's Coachwhip »
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Elemental_Elf

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10 ways I "fixed" 4e for my low magic game
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2008, 07:05:33 PM »
Hmm... I like most of these house rules, they're quite cool.

 #10 seems like it could be abused but, hey, everyone's getting snacks out of it, so who cares?

#2 strikes me as odd. I've found in my limited experience with 4E that running monsters from the MM are a million times easier than the horrendous 3.5 stat blocks (so much easier I even use my 4E MM in my Pathfinder games). However, your solution is not dissimilar to what I did with monsters in 3.5, that being I just made them all Monstrous Creatures, except for named baddies and elites.

I really like the way Star Wars does the condition track, I think I will try and implement it into my Pathfinder and 4E games! :)

#9 is actually the coolest one of the bunch. I honestly think I will adapt that system for my games!

Anyways, great job on the list!

Ishmayl-Retired

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10 ways I "fixed" 4e for my low magic game
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2008, 11:08:27 AM »
I'm interested to hear a bit more about how #8 works.
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LordVreeg

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10 ways I "fixed" 4e for my low magic game
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2008, 01:33:35 PM »
I use many of these, or varients, in my homebrew rules.  Makes sense, since I like so much of Moniker's stuff.  I,like Ish, want to hear about #8!

#10 can't work, we all pitch in for full meals and too much good wine...
VerkonenVreeg, The Nice.Celtricia, World of Factions

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Old, evil, twisted, damaged, and afflicted.  Orbis non sufficit.Thread Murderer Extraordinaire, and supposedly pragmatic...\"That is my interpretation. That the same rules designed to reduce the role of the GM and to empower the player also destroyed the autonomy to create a consistent setting. And more importantly, these rules reduce the Roleplaying component of what is supposed to be a \'Fantasy Roleplaying game\' to something else\"-Vreeg

Elemental_Elf

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10 ways I "fixed" 4e for my low magic game
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2008, 01:56:02 PM »
Quote from: Vreeg's Coachwhip.

#10 can't work, we all pitch in for full meals and too much good wine...


WINE!? What kind of fancy D&D playing are you doing? We can barely afford Pizza and chips* and you sip wine and indulge in full meals! This is a Travesty I say, a TRAVESTY! :P

I too would like to hear more of how #8 affects your average game and encounter balance.

*College makes us poor  :cry:



Moniker

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10 ways I "fixed" 4e for my low magic game
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2008, 02:14:25 PM »
Quote from: Ishmayl

I'm interested to hear a bit more about how #8 works.


My players are all roleplayers. However, when we get deep into the nitty gritty of combat, sometimes it is lost during number crunching, figure positioning on the board and coordinating attacks with one another's powers.

So, each player describes what their action is from a narrative perspective (as in, they play DM for a moment), then give a breakdown what that means (let's take Stand the Fallen, the Warlord power used during a combat round on the Warlord's turn) -

IC
"I look onto the faces of my battle-worn men, give a reaffirming smile beneath the filth and blood spread across my face and say, "for he who sheds blood with me this day I would call my brother!". Motioning my comrades to their feet, I reinvigorate them with my Stand the Fallen power. I'll move forward six paces to stand alongside them and raise my mace over my head from it's sheath!


So, the player just described his Stand the Fallen power through narrative as a Standard, moved forward six squares as his Move and used a Minor action to draw his mace. Now, each player has to follow suit with the narrative -

IC
"I will dust myself off, pick up my blade and fight with renewed vigor! I lunge forward as the adrenaline races through my veins two paces to deal a Riposte Strike against my foe!"


The rogue has "reacted" to the narration, and described his actions in accord.

Once all the players work within their own narrative, at the beginning of the next round they get a cumulative +1 damage to all rolls, which tops out at +6 if they do it for six rounds straight. It slows combat down a bit, but since most foes are treated as minions, combat stays fast and hard, everyone feels involved (even if they don't take an action that round), and are given a bonus for roleplaying during combat. It works like a charm with my group. :)


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LordVreeg

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10 ways I "fixed" 4e for my low magic game
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2008, 03:09:55 PM »
Quote from: Moniker

Quote from: Ishmayl

I'm interested to hear a bit more about how #8 works.


My players are all roleplayers. However, when we get deep into the nitty gritty of combat, sometimes it is lost during number crunching, figure positioning on the board and coordinating attacks with one another's powers.

So, each player describes what their action is from a narrative perspective (as in, they play DM for a moment), then give a breakdown what that means (let's take Stand the Fallen, the Warlord power used during a combat round on the Warlord's turn) -

IC
"I look onto the faces of my battle-worn men, give a reaffirming smile beneath the filth and blood spread across my face and say, "for he who sheds blood with me this day I would call my brother!". Motioning my comrades to their feet, I reinvigorate them with my Stand the Fallen power. I'll move forward six paces to stand alongside them and raise my mace over my head from it's sheath!


So, the player just described his Stand the Fallen power through narrative as a Standard, moved forward six squares as his Move and used a Minor action to draw his mace. Now, each player has to follow suit with the narrative -

IC
"I will dust myself off, pick up my blade and fight with renewed vigor! I lunge forward as the adrenaline races through my veins two paces to deal a Riposte Strike against my foe!"


The rogue has "reacted" to the narration, and described his actions in accord.

Once all the players work within their own narrative, at the beginning of the next round they get a cumulative +1 damage to all rolls, which tops out at +6 if they do it for six rounds straight. It slows combat down a bit, but since most foes are treated as minions, combat stays fast and hard, everyone feels involved (even if they don't take an action that round), and are given a bonus for roleplaying during combat. It works like a charm with my group. :)





My Friend, this is great.  Screw balance, this is a a role playing game, and you've got your people role playing.  That is unbeatable.  My folks do well with their social skill role-playing, but not as much with the combat.  I have a feeling that if I gave a role=playing bonus with my CC rolls (saves), I'd have a lot of takers.
VerkonenVreeg, The Nice.Celtricia, World of Factions

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Old, evil, twisted, damaged, and afflicted.  Orbis non sufficit.Thread Murderer Extraordinaire, and supposedly pragmatic...\"That is my interpretation. That the same rules designed to reduce the role of the GM and to empower the player also destroyed the autonomy to create a consistent setting. And more importantly, these rules reduce the Roleplaying component of what is supposed to be a \'Fantasy Roleplaying game\' to something else\"-Vreeg

Ishmayl-Retired

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10 ways I "fixed" 4e for my low magic game
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2008, 04:22:50 PM »
Awesome, I'm going to have to try this out, I believe.
!turtle Ishmayl, Overlord of the CBG

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Elemental_Elf

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10 ways I "fixed" 4e for my low magic game
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2008, 06:19:10 PM »
I actually did something similar to that except instead of awarding the group for awesome explanation, the individual player was awarded what I called a 'Staction Die.' Essentially it was a Story Action Die and worked in the same way as the Action die except it was a d4. It worked out fairly well in my larger group but there were always those few who didn't want to do it... Your way puts a bit of peer pressure on those players as well as offering a more concrete reward... I really like it! Consider that element pilfered! :)

Elemental_Elf

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10 ways I "fixed" 4e for my low magic game
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2008, 02:25:29 PM »
This past weekend I played a fairly hefty game with my friends involving Goblins, Trolls and 2 Green Dragons! I decided to try out #8 - Flourish - and I have to say, it worked out GREAT! I've never heard half as many evocative descriptions of what was going on in combat!

I love #8!

LordVreeg

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10 ways I "fixed" 4e for my low magic game
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2008, 04:35:34 PM »
By the way, I hate the oblivion effect.  I hate it in the game, I avoid it like the plague in my games, etc.  I am a big storytelling guy, and am totally with you on that, but an underpinning of Celtricia is that it is deadly.  And intelligence gathering is it's own reward, while the lack of intelligence means an early chance to work on an epitath.

I can't do #8 like you, becasue of this, no matter how much I love it, but I will steal this in it's own way.  


ANd as for dying, anyone who is at 0 in unconsious, not dead.

for us, Once in the negatives, for every point under 0, they must make a CC on fortitude with a -10 penalty for every negative point.  If they suceed, they gain 1 hp, if they fail, they lose one, and in 10 seconds, must roll again with the adjusted CC roll, until they get to 0 (stable unconsious) or their fortitude CC goes negative.
This life-or-death battle, to stabilize or to pas into the great beyond, gets huge support at the gaming table.

VerkonenVreeg, The Nice.Celtricia, World of Factions

Steel Island Online gaming thread
The Collegium Arcana Online Game
Old, evil, twisted, damaged, and afflicted.  Orbis non sufficit.Thread Murderer Extraordinaire, and supposedly pragmatic...\"That is my interpretation. That the same rules designed to reduce the role of the GM and to empower the player also destroyed the autonomy to create a consistent setting. And more importantly, these rules reduce the Roleplaying component of what is supposed to be a \'Fantasy Roleplaying game\' to something else\"-Vreeg