Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Revisiting My AS&SH House Rules

Even though I am running a monthly Dwimmermount campaign in the capital (for which I still have to write up the latest session report, repopulate some areas in the dungeon, and create a short side quest based on the treasure map the party found on the first level), I'm entertaining myself with the possibility of starting another AS&SH campaign, this time in my home town.

First, let's see the house rules of the previous campaign, copied from the AS&SH page (which I'll probably replace with the content relevant for this new campaign, anyway, so this post is also sort of preservative in nature).

Attributes are determined by 4d6 drop lowest, arranged to taste.
I still think this one's a neat alternative to the good old 3d6 in order, providing relatively good stats and allowing the players to choose almost any sub-class they want.
Starting HP is the maximum possible (assuming 1st level characters). Upon attaining a new level, either a single die of the appropriate size is rolled, its result added to the previous total, or all hit dice are re-rolled and the new total is kept (unless it's lower than the previous total, in which case you simply increase your HP by 1).
I think I first saw this in one of Kevin Crawford's games, and used it ever since in every D&D-esque game I run (except where HP is re-rolled each session, like in my Dwimmermount campaign).
New spells gained when attaining a new level are rolled randomly from a spell level available to the character (chosen by the player), with the exception that one of them may be chosen at will, instead.
Still like it. It compensates magic-user types, who only gain one automatic spell per level, whereas cleric types gain three. Also, because it comes up only once in a while, it's not very complicated to do, plus players never forget this rule because they like choosing their spells.
Replacement characters start with as many XP as the one with the least (of the currently living characters) or the amount the previous character accumulated, whichever is lower.
Came up a couple of times, but I'm not sure about it. I don't even know if I should make it any harsher or more lenient, to be honest, because I was preoccupied with so many other fiddly bits.
The time of the day is divided into six roughly 4-hour periods (dawn, morning, noon, afternoon, evening, night). While in the wilderness exploring, there is a random encounter check for every such period (normally there is a 1-in-6 chance of a random encounter occurring).
This one looked really good on paper, but failed miserably at the table. I may have used too harsh encounter tables, that may have been it, but ultimately it just made travelling too unforgiving.
When a sorcerer casts Augury, the 7-in-10 chance of the spell's succeeding is rolled in the open. Upon failure, the spell simply provides no answer.
Of course I will continue to include it; open rolls are much better in every situation.
Social encounters are resolved according to Courtney Campbell's On the Non-player Character (summary available here). Social combat works according to these rules (effects are still described here).
The social encounter rules were nice, although I often simplified them; my players didn't really like the social combat rules, though.
Characters in a sufficiently large town or city (population > 1,000) may choose to carouse and spend their money in frivolous ways. They gain XP equal to their current amount of cash (gold pieces); the precise amount of money lost and some random occurrence (possibly beneficial, but usually humiliating, vexatious, or outright harmful) are determined in accordance with the Drunken Debauchery tables. Characters may divide the XP gained in the process between themselves and their henchmen any way they wish, but the random result applies to each beneficiary. To engage in carousing, a character must have at least 100 gold pieces worth of cash.
Only had one chance to use it, so we will need more testing of this.
In combat when a natural 1 is rolled, a fumble occurs. The player may choose between (1) losing the weapon for the remainder of the encounter (e.g. sword disarmed, axe thrown away, bow string torn), (2) damaging herself, or (3) damaging a nearby ally (although said ally's player must agree to it).
I will probably switch to some simple weapon and armour degradation rules, instead, such as the following (but I'm not yet sure if I need such a rule):
When a player rolls a natural 1 on an attack roll, her weapon takes a "notch", penalising her attacks and damage rolls by -1, until repaired. Regular weapons break upon receiving the third notch. When an enemy rolls a natural 20 on an attack roll, the target's armour takes a notch instead, penalising her AC by +1 (remember, it's descending AC); when a set of armour provides no further AC, it's broken beyond repair.
Also, there are a couple of other house rules I would like to implement, inspired by this thread, such as the following:
On a failed saving throw, poison deals 1d6 damage per HD of the poisonous creature; it's applied slowly, one die of damage at a time at the end of a combat round. Instead of level drain, such special attacks temporarily decrease the hit points total of their victim. The lost points may recover slowly after time, or with special elixirs.