C:ADD Half-Level

I was watching Spartacus: Blood and Sand over the weekend. I think my leveling scheme for warriors maps well to life in the arena, with one exception. First, a brief design note.

The leveling scheme is the way it is because of its source. There are essentially three levels in Chainmail, Normal, Hero, and Superhero. There are more for Magic-Users, but for now we’re talking about warriors. The other reason is that I never want players to lose that thrill of danger, the feeling that any given combat against an equal foe could mean death. So, I wanted to keep HD kind of low, and not let bonuses get out of hand. I want the player to have to accept the fact that there are some creatures out there that they can not simply outlast while they methodical bash their heads in. Sometimes it will take strategy, guile, and a willingness to fight dirty.

Having said all that, and based on Spartacus, I think there should be something between Sellsword and Hero. Not a full on level, just some sort of bonus. Something that says “I’ve faced death”. In the show, while the gladiators first arrive at the ludus and begin training, it is mostly raw talent that separates them. Once they’ve been christened in the blood of the arena, they are different.

Anyway, I came up with the notion of a “Half-Level”. At 6,000 XP the warrior can choose to take +1 Combat or +1 Damage Die. This bonus is part of the one he gets at 2nd level. So, if a warrior takes +1 damage die, when he achieves 2nd level, his damage dice will increase by +2, to a total of +3.

Additionally, at 6,000 XP the warrior receives 2 Quality points. Like the above bonus, these 2 points are part of the four he normally receives when gaining a new level. So, when the warrior reaches 12,000 XP and makes 2nd level, he will only receive the remaining 2 Quality points.

It’s really just a thought. I’m interested to hear what anyone thinks.

C:ADD: Mage

Here is the revised and updated mage class, including level specific abilities:

Mage
Level
Title
XP
HD(d6-1)
Spells
Casting
Combat
Damage Dice (d6)
1
Seer
0
1
1
1
0
1
2
Magician
15,000
2
3
2
0
1
3
Warlock
75,000
3
5
3
1
1
4
Sorcerer
300,000
4
7
4
1
2
5
Wizard
900,000
5
9
5
2
2

Spells isthe maximum number of spells a mage may have memorized at any giventime. Casting is the bonus to the casting roll. Casting willfollow the table given in Chainmail, basically, with Immediate,Deferred, and Negated results. Negated indicates that thespell was lost from memory and must be restudied before it may becast again.
Level-specificAbilities
Seer
Maynot engage fantastic opponents in combat without magic weaponry.
Arsenal:There are certain spells that mages never forget, no matter thecasting roll. At first level this spell is Counter-Spell. Each level,including first, the player may add another spell to his mage’sArsenal. The spell’s complexity may not be greater than the mage’slevel. Spells in the Arsenal do not count toward the maximum numberthe mage may have memorized. The casting roll is required as normalfor these spells, with the exception being that a Negatedresult merely means failure to cast.
Magician
Identify:The Magician may make a standardroll to identify the properties of a magic item. Certain items mayrequire more than one successful roll. The mage may add a bonus of +1to this roll for each level above 2nd.
ScribeScroll: Beginning at 2ndlevel, the mage gains the ability to create magical scrolls.
Warlock
LegendLore:Beginning at 3rd level the mage’s experience and travels grants a +1 bonus to rollsconcerning knowledge of legends, ancient histories, lost languages,and the like. This bonus increases by +1 per additional level.
BrewPotions:The mage is able to brew potions, given the proper equipment andingredients. If the mage is in possession of a recipe, the brewing isautomatic. If brewing “from scratch”, a standard roll isrequired.
Sorcerer
Themage may engage fantastic opponents in combat without magicalweaponry.
CraftItem: Themage may craft magical items, armor, and weapons (not includingswords), provided he possesses the proper tools and equipment,supplies, and facility. Item creation requires a successful standardroll. Many items carry modifiers to this roll. If the mage is workingfrom a “blueprint” these penalties are halved, round down.
Wizard
ForgeSword: Themage may create magical swords. The details for doing this areprovided later.
FearfulPresence: Awizard may use this ability once per turn, rather take anotheraction. He may use it in one of two ways:
  • He may cause all opponents of 1 HD or less who are looking his way become paralyzed with fear. This effect will persist a number of turns equal to 5 – Number of opponents affected, with a minimum of one turn. Opponents thus affected will stand trembling and take no action for the duration.
  • He may cause panic in a single opponent. An opponent so affected will flee the wizard’s presence as quickly as possible along the path of least resistance. The duration of this flight is (mage’s level) – HD, in turns. The opponent is allowed a saving throw, and if successful, the duration of the panic is halved. Additionally, any creatures allied with a paniced opponent must succeed in a morale check or flee also.

C:ADD Warriors

I’ve tweaked the warrior slightly and added level-specific abilities. Here’s the latest:



Warrior
Level
Title
XP
HD(d6+2)
Combat
Damage Dice (d6)
1
Sellsword
0
1
2
1
2
Hero
12,000
2
4
3
3
Champion
60,000
3
6
5
4
Lord
240,000
4
8
7

Most of it is selfexplanatory, except the last two. Combat is a total bonus thatcan be used to modify the character’s chance to hit or modify hisopponent’s chance to hit. It can be split any way the player desiresand applies to all opponents equally. This bonus may also be appliedto damage, as a single bonus, not a bonus per damage die. If used inthis way, it can only be applied to a single opponent. Damage Diceis the number of dice of damage the character deals on asuccessful hit.

Level-specificAbilities

Sellswords
Can not engagefantastic opponents without magic weaponry.
IntimidatingPresence: A trained and seasoned warrior can be an intimidatingsight. When facing opponents with fewer HD than the warrior haslevels, he imposes a penalty on their rolls to-hit. This penalty isequal to (warrior’s level) – (opponent’s HD). This penalty appliesto all opponents judged to be engaged in hand-to-hand combat with thewarrior. It should be obvious that this ability does not function onopponents with HD equal to or greater than the warrior. At firstlevel it only functions against opponents with 1HD-x. Furthermore, ifthe warrior’s opponents are forced to make a morale check, thismodifier applies to that roll, as well.
BattleReflexes: Warriors may apply their level as a bonus to Initiativerolls.

Hero
May engagefantastic opponents without the aid of magic weaponry.
FuriousAssault: When fighting opponents with fewer HD than himself, thewarrior may divide his damage dice into individual attacks. Theseneed not be divided equally. Thus, a Hero ( 3 Damage Dice) is squaredoff against 4 goblins. He can elect to make 3 attack rolls, eachdoing d6 damage; 2 attack rolls, one doing 1 die and one doing two;or make one attack with 3 dice damage.

Champion
Receives anadditional +1 to-hit and damage when fighting fantastic opponents.
Slayer: TheChampion selects one particular type of fantastic creature. He enjoysa further +1 to-hit, on top of any other bonuses when fightingopponents of the selected type. Additionally, once per battle withthe selected opponent he may double his damage dice.

Lord
Receives anadditional +1 to-hit and damage when fighting fantastic opponents.
InspiringLeader: The warrior is immune to fear. All allies with 15′ of thewarrior are likewise immune to fear, and never check morale. Alliesbeyond 15′, but still within sight of the warrior, receive a +4 bonusto fear and/or morale checks.

C:ADD More on Qualities

The more I think about Qualities, the more I like them. However, as with anything as wide open as this, the potential for misunderstanding and misuse is greatly increased. So, here are some more detailed guidelines:

1) While being too specific will limit their utility, Qualities can not be too broad, either. Avoiding too much specificity is the concern of the player, policing the breadth of Qualities is the province of the referee. Generally speaking, the broader the Quality, the less it should be allowed to apply to specific situations.

Example: A character has the Quality “Dexterity +1”. He enters a chamber split by a bottomless chasm, crossed by a narrow plank. On the other side he spies a chest. Deciding to try the plank, he must make a roll of 9+. Since this involves a general sense of balance, the referee allows the Dexterity Quality to apply. Once safely across, the player announces his character will pick the lock on the chest, and petitions for the application of his Dexterity Quality. The referee would be right to deny the bonus. The player is attempting to use a broadly defined Quality for a very specific task. In this instance a Quality of Thievery would be much better suited, and still broad enough to enjoy multiple uses.

2) Qualities which directly affect either combat or spell casting must be specific, on the other hand. A warrior with the Quality “Strength of Ten Men” would be able to use the bonus on weight lifting, breaking down doors, perhaps arm wrestling, but not as a damage bonus, under any circumstances. That would require a Quality limited to providing a bonus in combat situations, and nothing more. Likewise, a general Quality of “Smart as a Whip” will not affect spell memorization, use, or acquisition. Those activities would require Qualities unique and specific to them.

Generally speaking, a single Quality that can be used in so many ways that it is used almost every turn, is too broad and needs to be reined in. A Quality that only sees use once every session or two may be too specific and should be rethought.

C:ADD Stats

I was whining earlier about the restrictive nature of stats, but I just can’t see my way clear of them, at least in some form. Since the “Big Six” are a D&D trope, I don’t have to adhere to them, though, which is good. So, here is what I’m thinking (subject to change):

Qualities


     All characters possess Qualities. These are mental, physical, and/or spiritual aspects of the character that are above average. The player decides what the Quality is, there is no set list. However, it should be sufficiently broad so as to have utility. For example, Agile would cover pretty much anything that encompassed body control. Whereas Balance would only apply in very specific instances, and so not see as much use during play.
     It is not necessary that a Quality be compartmentalized. That is, it doesn’t have to represent a distinct aspect of the character. For example, a character could have the Quality Constitution. It is obvious what that quality represents, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, a character could have the Quality Survivor. The character with Constitution would enjoy a bonus to rolls to resist extremes of weather and to enduring hardship. The Survivor would enjoy those bonuses too, as well as bonuses to foraging for food, finding water, and making shelter.
     Qualities are limited only by imagination. Just remember to keep them broad enough to be usable. It would be frustrating to dump your points into a Quality that only gets used every four or five sessions.

Beginning Qualities
     Characters begin play with four points to devote to Qualities. Each “plus” to a Quality costs a number of points equal to the “plus” being gained. So, to gain a +1 costs one point. To improve that to +2 would cost two more points, for a total of three. Additionally, Warriors and Mages pay additional points for Qualities outside their “comfort zone”:

Quality Type
Class
Physical
Mental
Spiritual
Warior
0
+2
+1
Mage
+2
0
+1

The costs given are a flat amount required each time the Quality is improved. Thus, for a Warrior to have a +1 Mental Quality costs three points. To improve it to +2 would require four points.

Ongoing Improvement
     Each level the character receives four points with which to improve his Qualities, or purchase new ones. The costs for these improvements is exactly as it is during character creation.

Final Thoughts
    Players are encouraged to devise unique names for their Qualities, just make sure it is clearly understood what the Quality represents. For example, the Quality of Survivor mentioned above could also be called Quality: Veteran of the Forlorn Marshes. Then, the player has a piece of the character’s history hardwired into the character’s stats. Just remember: make sure the referee and player are on the same page as to what Veteran of the Forlorn Marshes means.

My Game

After last night, followed by much thought this morning, I’m going to continue developing the ideas I’ve had. Some will be ideas conceived of for the house rule project, others will be brand new, like the new class/advancement scheme I posted last night. I’m going to keep the name Crucible for this rules set. I’m going to change the subtitle/tagline to: Adventures Dark and Dangerous. Hopefully that won’t be construed as straying too close to someone’s trademark.

Design Goals

As much as possible, I’m only going to work with Chainmail. Obviously, it is nigh-impossible to simply ignore 35+ years of gaming experience, so nuggets from that experience will make their way in. My figurative goal, though, is to “pretend” Chainmail is all I have. It’s the mid 70’s, I’ve read the fantasy supplement to Chainmail and decided to flesh it out. I’ve never seen D&D, but I have read Brooks, Burroughs, Lieber, and Tolkein.

So, that’s the gist of the project. By basing it Chainmail I can, in my own sordid little mind, free myself of the sacred cows of D&D. See, for all my edition-whore posturing, I am OCD about my OSR. If something is going to claim to give me the LBB experience, I don’t want it polluted with a lot of house rules. I’m just an ass like that. What this does is give me the opportunity to make D&D from the ground up, for myself, with my ideas.

By the way, as I post development notes here, the subject will be “C:ADD: whatever“, to aid in identifying the development posts.

Wish me luck.