1st topic: Share your houserules!

General topics such as design philosophy, style, tone, and the like.

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1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby GMSarli » Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:47 pm

We have our forums running now, so let's get our first topic off the ground by thinking about existing games we play and the house rules we've introduced to them. By focusing on these changes, I'm hoping we can get the ideas flowing on how we like to play games and what mechanics best fit that need.

I don't want to start listing my own house rules just yet -- first, I want to see what you guys say before I start tossing ideas out there, and second, a lot of my house rules have already been seen over the years in Jedi Counseling. (In fact, the whole e20 Project originally started as an effort to make a comprehensive list of my house rules for Star Wars Saga Edition, and it didn't take me long to realize that I'd made so many changes in so many places that I had more than enough material to make an entirely new game!)

So, speak up! What do you play, and how have you changed it?
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby DTemplar5 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 5:29 pm

I generally follow the general rules of a game closely. However, there are things to be said about certain abilities and mechanics that can be altered.

The gaming table I go to generally has Force Push utilize the UtF roll vs. Strength + 1/2 level + Size modifiers roll-off, as does any other power that forces movement. I would think that a knockback defense rating or somesuch might simplify the process, but then I think utilizing a single combat manuver trait like Pathfinder could also help. However, this could be subsumed into the various Defenses, as you don't want too many. Still haven't figured out a good way to deal with it though.

One rule dabbled with is scaling with the Skill Training/Skill Focus boost granted at early levels. One solution was to have Skill Focus alter the progression of skills from 1/2 level to 3/4 level. A later level feat could be developed to give a 1/1 parity (like Skill Supremcy or somesuch), although it should be reserved for higher levels, with Defenses outpace skills. You would also want to lower the Skill Training bonus at that point.

I'll post more as I'm able.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby Jimmy Plamondon » Sun Jan 17, 2010 5:52 pm

Hi guys!

I've played many games over the years. D&D, World of Darkness, Tribe 8, Gemini, D20 Modern, all Starwars incarnations, WOD D20...

The most interesting house rule I've used so far was for a D&D 4th edition campaign. The players were basically the local heroes, working for a lord in the Cormyr region of the Forgotten Realms universe. The land they were defending was named VertCorbeau (yeah, Im french) which basically means GreenRaven. As I wanted the players to grow with the land, I worked on an in-game system that would have an impact both on the mechanics and the universe.

The Crows, Dragons and Wyvern system was born.

Whenever the players were taking actions that would have a positive impact on the land, they gained Crows. They would gain a Dragon for exceptional roleplay. When a player was making everyone wait during combat, was disruptive or acted to the land's detriment, they would gain wyverns.

Players could use Crows to modify minor elements of the setting to their advantage when adventuring in the land. For example, a player could spend a Crow to add the presence of a watchtower close by when chased by an orc raiding party. They could "befriend" an NPC by adding the fact that he was married to one of the PCs sisters. All the Crows that remained after a story were used to buy improvement for the land (hire guards, build catapults, attract a clergyman from a benevolent religion).

The Dragons had dramatic effects on the battlefield. A player could spend one to regain the use of a daily power. He could use one to reroll any roll.

The wyverns were basically used by the DM to make the PCs' life a bit more difficult in a creative and fun way. The DM could use a wyvern to say that the natural 1 on one of the PCs' attacks caused a lantern to burst and ignite the hail in the barn they were fighting in...
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby Jimmy Plamondon » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:14 pm

Another house rule I use is the natural 1 fumble rule. When a player rolls a 1 on an attack, I usually ask that player to roll a d20+dex while I roll a d20. If the player beats my D20, nothing happens. If not, the character falls prone.

As we are using maptools now, we switched to using a fumble table with more possible results (25% nothing happens, and the rest is divided with falling prone, dropping weapon, becoming slowed because of a sprained ankle, weapon stuck in solid object...).
Alright you Primitive Screwheads, listen up! You see this? This... is my boomstick! The twelve-gauge double-barreled Remington. S-Mart's top of the line. You can find this in the sporting goods department. That's right, this sweet baby was made in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Retails for about a hundred and nine, ninety five. It's got a walnut stock, cobalt blue steel, and a hair trigger. That's right. Shop smart. Shop S-Mart. You got that?
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby DTemplar5 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:22 pm

Personally, I don't like the natural 1 fumbles. I always find them more of a hastle, and really unlikely, especially with PCs that are trained professionals. High School students or the like...much more likely.

Also, your Crows/Dragon/Wyvern system sounds similar (to me at least) to the Stunt mechanic found in Exalted. Could be useful in a more high-action game.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby joela » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:27 pm

In my D&D games, I generally give all but the minions an Action Point. And monsters that already have APs get another one. Found this change satisfying against the min-maxed/powergamers of my local RPGA.

One of my Pathfinder GMs uses a houserule that all variable magical healing is maxed out of combat.
Last edited by joela on Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby valetutto » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:34 pm

I really don't like house rules all that much so I tend not to use them however one I was always fond of was on a natural 20 on a Skill check a +10 was added, also a -10 was applied to a 1. I liked this because a natural 20 on a skill check didn't mean anything special before and even with this it doesn't always mean a success but a 1 doesn't always mean a fail.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby DTemplar5 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 7:07 pm

Joela, your AP deal reminds of Spycraft's system a little; in that the ST itself has a pool of action points to create bad circumstances, augment encoutners, etc per session. Might be handy to give to a GM to expand their options, or possibly add complications for a fight.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby GMSarli » Sun Jan 17, 2010 7:18 pm

Skills are something that seems to be drawing a lot of attention. In fact, before I opened the forums, more than one patron had sent me a message mentioning skills as being near the top of their list of things to change. I've already wanted to change skills substantially from how they've been used before, so I'm glad to see that so many others are on the same page on that. :)

I'm also intrigued by the fact that Action Points and the like have come up more than once, too. The "use an Action Point to modify your environment" thing is definitely an idea I've wanted to incorporate into e20, as a optional module if nothing else.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby Jimmy Plamondon » Sun Jan 17, 2010 7:41 pm

Action points are a wonderful tool to help the players accomplish great deeds when it really counts. I've been looking at different systems and so far, I cannot say I have found the right system. The trailblazer Action Points system is, however, very interesting. You should have a look at it...

As an aside, I'd like to see a system that helps DMs award something to players when they do stuff that is in line with what is expected within the frame of the game. Awards given to the players right after they have done something right is the best way of giving positive feedback. XPs are ok, but they usually come at the end of the game which defeats the purpose of immediate feedback. With an immediate award, people around the table are reminded of what is "expected" of them.

Could Action Points be that DM award? Possibly.
Alright you Primitive Screwheads, listen up! You see this? This... is my boomstick! The twelve-gauge double-barreled Remington. S-Mart's top of the line. You can find this in the sporting goods department. That's right, this sweet baby was made in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Retails for about a hundred and nine, ninety five. It's got a walnut stock, cobalt blue steel, and a hair trigger. That's right. Shop smart. Shop S-Mart. You got that?
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby DTemplar5 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 7:49 pm

I definately agree there, Jimmy! Having players help contribute to the session and allowing GMs to award Action Points would be helpful. Also, we definately want to have Action Points used constantly and frequently. I've seen Action Points work with a per session basis or a per game day basis. You want your players to use them, so you can avoid them being hoarded up for a major conflict (which can happen when giving Action Points per level).
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby Jimmy Plamondon » Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:31 pm

I agree with DTemplar5. AP should not be given on a level basis. I find Action points per level to be rather un-sexy :) Hoarding AP breaks the climax when going after the "boss".

The Cortex System use a system where "points" are awarded by the DM throughout the game session. At the end of the game session, you can hoard part of it and all excess becomes extra experience points. I dont know how it could work for e20, but I like that.
Alright you Primitive Screwheads, listen up! You see this? This... is my boomstick! The twelve-gauge double-barreled Remington. S-Mart's top of the line. You can find this in the sporting goods department. That's right, this sweet baby was made in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Retails for about a hundred and nine, ninety five. It's got a walnut stock, cobalt blue steel, and a hair trigger. That's right. Shop smart. Shop S-Mart. You got that?
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby Jimmy Plamondon » Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:43 pm

GMsarli mentioned he wanted to change the skill system. What do you have in mind exactly? It is true that the 3rd edition skill system was a bit broken (why Hide and Move Silently being separate skills?). But the way it was handled in D&D 4th edition left a sour taste in my mouth. I do not like the fact that you are either trained or not. Why not have different skill levels like untrained (bonus=0), trained (bonus=5), expert (bonus=10), master (bonus=15). I am just throwing numbers, but I find appealing the idea of being able to increase your skill level thru other means than sacrificing a feat.

Looking at DnD 4th ed, I think the "passive perception" thing is awesome and a huge time-saver.

Other than that... That would be nice to find a way to have the skills interact better in combat, for one thing.
Alright you Primitive Screwheads, listen up! You see this? This... is my boomstick! The twelve-gauge double-barreled Remington. S-Mart's top of the line. You can find this in the sporting goods department. That's right, this sweet baby was made in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Retails for about a hundred and nine, ninety five. It's got a walnut stock, cobalt blue steel, and a hair trigger. That's right. Shop smart. Shop S-Mart. You got that?
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby GMSarli » Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:23 pm

Jimmy Plamondon wrote:GMsarli mentioned he wanted to change the skill system. What do you have in mind exactly? It is true that the 3rd edition skill system was a bit broken (why Hide and Move Silently being separate skills?). But the way it was handled in D&D 4th edition left a sour taste in my mouth. I do not like the fact that you are either trained or not. Why not have different skill levels like untrained (bonus=0), trained (bonus=5), expert (bonus=10), master (bonus=15). I am just throwing numbers, but I find appealing the idea of being able to increase your skill level thru other means than sacrificing a feat.


Generally, I like "trained/untrained" idea for its simplicity -- I hated 3.0/3.5 skill ranks with a passion. On the surface, skill ranks look like they grant flexibility, but in practice most players pick a handful of skills to focus on and then max them out every level. (In fact, if you don't you're "below the curve" of how good the game expects your skills to be at any given level.)

That said, I am open to the idea of having more than one degree of mastery. The untrained/trained dichotomy (D&D 4E, Saga Edition) might seem a bit too simplified, but in practice "Skill Focus" gives you three degrees of proficiency. So, I guess the question is whether three degrees is enough, or whether you'd need more (e.g. untrained, trained, expert, master is four degrees) -- one way or another, though, you have to spend resources to get this training, whether it's by using feats or something else.

One thing I'm absolutely certain of is that the size of the skill bonuses (at least in Saga) is way too big, at least at low levels. (Someone mentioned this earlier, and it's a real problem for Force powers vs. low-level defense scores.) This, of course, creates a bit of a problem because you have two needs that almost directly oppose one another: (1) keep each "degree" of skill proficiency sufficiently small that it doesn't blow the power curve, but (2) make the advantage of each level of proficiency sufficiently large to justify spending a feat (or "skill slots," or whatever limited resource you designate). One of the few ways to do both is to keep the number of degrees very low. For example, if being trained is worth +2 and being focused increases that to +5 (an extra +3 over trained), that fulfills #1 but it probably pushes #2 to the limit -- and that's a great example of why patrons are so integral to this process, because it's hard to know for sure if it does or doesn't break #2. :)

Jimmy Plamondon wrote:Looking at DnD 4th ed, I think the "passive perception" thing is awesome and a huge time-saver.


Yes, that's definitely something I've wanted to incorporate in one form or another.

Jimmy Plamondon wrote:Other than that... That would be nice to find a way to have the skills interact better in combat, for one thing.


Definitely on the same page here, too -- details to come. :D
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby Jimmy Plamondon » Sun Jan 17, 2010 10:11 pm

I agree about the steep curve for trained/untrained. This is a subject that will need a lot of discussions I guess!

I dont know if its the right topic to talk about it, but...

I really like D20 Modern, but one thing was bugging me: advanced classes. The way it was put down, after a few levels using the talent trees, as soon as you took an advanced class, you were not using the talent trees anymore. A sad thing, and maybe a design flaw. Its like using a great system for a few levels (3-6) then switching to the classic dungeons and dragons class system. I would not want something like that happening in e20.
Alright you Primitive Screwheads, listen up! You see this? This... is my boomstick! The twelve-gauge double-barreled Remington. S-Mart's top of the line. You can find this in the sporting goods department. That's right, this sweet baby was made in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Retails for about a hundred and nine, ninety five. It's got a walnut stock, cobalt blue steel, and a hair trigger. That's right. Shop smart. Shop S-Mart. You got that?
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby ronin » Sun Jan 17, 2010 10:46 pm

I like D20 Modern as well. I like the basic classes and the ability to multiclass easily. It seems like the advanced classes give you a more defined path (which I kind of like) with specific class abilities instead of multiple talent trees to choose different abilities. Having said that, I really like the talent trees alot. Maybe the solution is to have the entry into an advanced class come at a higher level?

I don't like how your BAB suffers once you start multiclassing but I'm sure that can be addressed easily. I remember reading somewhere about having your ability with a weapon being tied to a skill somehow? I only play the original CoC once but I remember have a percentage chance for using a weapon. I assume this method will be something similar? If that is the case will every class be equally skilled with a weapon depending on their willingness to put skill points towards it?

I do think 3 levels (as defined by GM Sarli in the earlier post) for skill use is enough. I like how SW Saga did skills (though I admit to never having played, but I have played 4e a bit) since it took out the crazy skill check results at relatively low- mid levels. I am not sure I agree with a +5 being too high at lower levels. I see how it gives you your biggest bonus right away and for the rest of your career you get a +1 every other level. Perhaps when you are skilled you get that +5 one level at a time with 1st level giving you a +1, 2nd level giving you a +2, etc.

I like the idea of action points. Getting them every level is fine by me too. I've tried awarding them before as a DM but found that I'd have to come up with ways to give them to certain players or they'd never get any! We called them hero points and whenever you did something heroic, cool, or just made a good contribution to the session you could get one. It went alright but getting them by level just seems simpler, maybe because my players don't tend to hoard them.

I am really looking forward to seeing things develop here. I see the one level of patronage has some sort of event at Gen Con. Does this mean the book should be released by then? I have not become a patron yet, I just need to decide on the level I'd like to commit and I'm in!
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby GMSarli » Sun Jan 17, 2010 11:05 pm

I'm going to reply to the rest of your post in a bit, but I wanted to answer this part before I forget:

ronin wrote:I see the one level of patronage has some sort of event at Gen Con. Does this mean the book should be released by then? I have not become a patron yet, I just need to decide on the level I'd like to commit and I'm in!


I don't expect the whole book to be finished by Gen Con -- I'm actually hoping for a late November publication date. What I'm hoping to have by Gen Con is a playable core rule system (minus the genre-specific stuff) that we can demonstrate, maybe with something like the D&D "delve" or the like. It'll be a while before I have specific plans outlined, but patrons will definitely have input on this as we get closer to August.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby GMSarli » Mon Jan 18, 2010 12:01 am

Jimmy Plamondon wrote:I dont know if its the right topic to talk about it, but...


Eh, close enough. We're brainstorming here, and part of what inspires houserules is examining the things we like and don't like about a particular ruleset. :)

Jimmy Plamondon wrote:I really like D20 Modern, but one thing was bugging me: advanced classes. The way it was put down, after a few levels using the talent trees, as soon as you took an advanced class, you were not using the talent trees anymore. A sad thing, and maybe a design flaw. Its like using a great system for a few levels (3-6) then switching to the classic dungeons and dragons class system. I would not want something like that happening in e20.


Currently, I'm planning on doing it like this:
  • There are six core classes -- they'll be similar to concept behind the d20 Modern classes, but the names and talents are going to be substantially different. each will have some small group of basic talent trees that fit any genre.
  • Each genre and modular ruleset (e.g. magic, psionics, superpowers, etc.) will have additional talent trees that are affiliated with one or more classes. Advanced classes -- which are more specific to a given setting -- would basically be replaced by this concept.
  • In fact, even prestige classes might get this treatment, transforming into "prestige talent trees" that are available to anyone who meets particular criteria. I haven't settled on this one yet, but it's definitely one I'm thinking about quite a bit.

In short, I want to get the absolute most mileage I can out of the talent tree concept -- make them modular and "graft ready" so they can be added to your core class system, and then you've got something that works in any setting.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby Inquisitor Tremayne » Mon Jan 18, 2010 12:24 am

Here is a consolidated list of skills I made for a tweaked version of 3.5 I was working on.

Acrobatics (Balance, Escape Artist, Jump, Tumble)
Appraise
Athletics (Climb, Ride, swim)
Concentration
Craft
Deception (Bluff, Disguise)
Heal/Treat Injury
Persuasion (Diplomacy, Intimidate)
Knowledge
Linguistics (Speak, Read/Write, Decipher Script)
Perception (Spot, Listen, Search, Sense Motive)
Perform
Profession
Spell Craft
Stealth (Hide, Move Silently)
Streetwise (Gather Information, Sleight of Hand)
Survival (Track, Handle Animal)
Thievery (Forgery, Disable Device, Open Lock,)
Use Magic Device
Use Rope

I think Saga editions skill list is a bit too broad for each skill and could use some further refinement. I too am against cross class skills. I am more aligned toward something like class FAVORED skills. Where upon choosing a class you get a +1 or +2 to a select number of class skills and you get skill points to buy ranks in any number of skills. I would also keep the skill points even across the board and let a characters Int modifier be the deciding factor in the precise number of skills a character gets. I think 5+Int modifier (x4 at level 1) is a good start. Tack on a +1 or +2 to skills that a character is typically going to be better at due to their class and I think its pretty good, if not a bit clunky possibly.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby j0lt » Mon Jan 18, 2010 3:45 am

Sorry if this turns into a huge wall of text... (btw, good to see some familiar faces here)

ronin wrote:I like D20 Modern as well. I like the basic classes and the ability to multiclass easily. It seems like the advanced classes give you a more defined path (which I kind of like) with specific class abilities instead of multiple talent trees to choose different abilities. Having said that, I really like the talent trees alot. Maybe the solution is to have the entry into an advanced class come at a higher level?

I'm not sure if that's the right solution, perhaps all classes should be treated similarly (built around the talent tree mechanic) save for specific prestige classes.
I do think 3 levels (as defined by GM Sarli in the earlier post) for skill use is enough. I like how SW Saga did skills (though I admit to never having played, but I have played 4e a bit) since it took out the crazy skill check results at relatively low- mid levels. I am not sure I agree with a +5 being too high at lower levels. I see how it gives you your biggest bonus right away and for the rest of your career you get a +1 every other level. Perhaps when you are skilled you get that +5 one level at a time with 1st level giving you a +1, 2nd level giving you a +2, etc.

I've been playing in a Saga game for nearly the last year, and it's been going well, but I have noticed the disparity between skill progression and defense progression. If you focus on a skill at level 1, for the first 10 levels, you're almost guaranteed success, but it slowly begins to balance itself out.
I like the idea of action points. Getting them every level is fine by me too. I've tried awarding them before as a DM but found that I'd have to come up with ways to give them to certain players or they'd never get any! We called them hero points and whenever you did something heroic, cool, or just made a good contribution to the session you could get one. It went alright but getting them by level just seems simpler, maybe because my players don't tend to hoard them.

As a primarily d20 Modern and SWSE player, I really like the way action points work in those systems. I've given 4e a chance twice, and I just can't get over how mechanically inelegant the system is in many respects. Action points are one of them. If anything, action points should be given MORE options, rather than less.

Shortly before this project came to my attention, I had been working on a d20 Modern revision more or less on my own, so most, if not all of these houserules are geared towards d20M.

I'm not going to copy and paste the whole thing here, because it's pages and pages long, but the original thread is here: http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards ... #msg166000

The main alteration is the damage system. I think Vitality and Wounds is the best damage system I've seen to date. If properly combined with other rules (such as massive damage, critical hits, etc...), it becomes a much more realistic damage model than standard Hit Points.

Another problem with the d20 System in general is that it isn't designed for finesse-style fighters to be very effective, yet in most stories, the finesse fighter is nigh unstoppable. I don't believe that a character should be punished for their choice in weapon if it's not the "biggest and strongest". A small fix for this would be modifying the Weapon Finesse feat to allow the character's Dex modifier to replace Strength for both attacks and damage. Then some more talents and feats devoted to such forms of combat.

Next is firearms. Playing by the Rules As Written in d20 Modern, firearms are great until your opponent gets close, at which point they become a liability. The rules being used are based on D&D's archery rules.

Firearms Houserule: All attacks with firearms are considered to be against flat-footed opponents, as dodging bullets is a practical impossibility (with a possible feat or talent-based exception). Furthermore, you may add your character's Dexterity modifier to your damage roll. I also don't think any mook should get an Attack of Opportunity against someone who uses a firearm against them in melee range. I've devised a feat called Dodge Bullets which allows you to retain your Dex modifier to AC when attacked by someone using a firearm, and another feat, which I may merge with Dodge Bullets that allows a character the AoO against an adjacent firearm-wielding foe.

Firearm damage in d20M is also inadequately modeled, and was clearly done by people with little to no firearms experience or knowledge. Shotguns in particular are no better at close range than at a distance. I've houseruled shotguns to do 5d4 damage (for a typical 12 gauge shotgun), with a range increment of 30 feet and a maximum range of 5 increments. Instead of taking a -2 penalty for each range increment, they suffer no penalty (or possibly -1) and lose 1 die of damage per range increment. That way, if you're shooting at someone 20 feet away, it's going to do a significant amount of damage, while someone 100 feet away will only be grazed at best.

In d20 Modern, autofire seems to be based on Area of Effect spells, in that you target a 2x2 square area. Nothing between the attacker and target is hit. This is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Next on the list is Called Shots. I'm not sure why the developers of the various d20 System-based games have been avoiding a mechanic to handle the targeting of specific body parts, but I've come up with a mechanic that may be suitable, while not being overly exploitable:

Making a called shot requires a full-round action. The defense score = 10 + class defense bonus + size modifier + Dexterity modifier. Even if you make a called shot with a firearm, the targeted character still uses its Dexterity modifier. Called shots made with a ranged weapon can only be done within the weapon's first range increment, unless the weapon is equipped with a scope. Laser sights provide a +2 bonus on called shots.

Size modifiers and special effects for called shots to various body parts is as follows:
Head (+8): Automatic critical threat regardless of attack roll.
Arm/Hand (+4/+8): -4 penalty to any action or skill check using the injured limb.
Leg/Foot (+4/+8): Move at half speed, can't run, charge or jump. -4 penalty to any action or skill check using the injured limb.

GMSarli wrote:Currently, I'm planning on doing it like this:
  • There are six core classes -- they'll be similar to concept behind the d20 Modern classes, but the names and talents are going to be substantially different. each will have some small group of basic talent trees that fit any genre.
  • Each genre and modular ruleset (e.g. magic, psionics, superpowers, etc.) will have additional talent trees that are affiliated with one or more classes. Advanced classes -- which are more specific to a given setting -- would basically be replaced by this concept.
  • In fact, even prestige classes might get this treatment, transforming into "prestige talent trees" that are available to anyone who meets particular criteria. I haven't settled on this one yet, but it's definitely one I'm thinking about quite a bit.

In short, I want to get the absolute most mileage I can out of the talent tree concept -- make them modular and "graft ready" so they can be added to your core class system, and then you've got something that works in any setting.

Giving players more options to build the character they want is exactly why I'm so excited about this project.
One thing I'm wondering about is the class system. I really like d20 Modern's generic base class system for campaigns based on the real world, but for established settings like Star Wars or Dungeons & Dragons with fairly set archetypes, I find SWSE's character system to work quite well. Would this system be able to handle both? A generic system more modern style gaming, and a talent-tree based archetype class system for other settings?
Last edited by j0lt on Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby JaredGaume » Mon Jan 18, 2010 3:46 am

In the spirit of d20 Modern I think that your choice of starting occupation should define your character's skills and proficiencies. Use class more as a kind of character achetype and how they advance as they gain experience.

I also came up with a consolodated Modern skill list based off of what was in the book:

Athletics (climb, jump, swim) - strength
Intimidate - strength
Endurance (concentration and some survival) - constitution
Acrobatics (balance, escape artist, tumble) - dexterity
Subterfuge (hide, move silently, sleight of hand) - dexterity
Computer Use - intelligence
Linguistics (decipher script, forgery, read/write language, speak language, craft [writing]) - intelligence
Mechanics (disable device, demolitions, craft [electronic, mechanical, structural]) - intelligence
Knowledge skills (research all) - intelligence
* General^ (current events, popular culture) - intelligence - not a formal skill
* History (arcane lore, art, current events, history, popular culture, craft [visual art, writing]) - intelligence
* Civics (business, civics, current events) - intelligence
* Philosophy (behavioral sciences, theology and philosophy) - intelligence
* Science (earth and life sciences, physical sciences, craft [chemical, pharmaceutical]) - intelligence
* Tactics (navigate, tactics) - intelligence
* Technology (physical sciences, technology) - intelligence
* Alchemy * (craft [magic items, potions]) - intelligence
* Spellcraft * (arcane lore, cast spells, perform magic rituals) - intelligence
* Psicraft ** (craft [psionic items]) - intelligence
Search (active – search, listen, sense motive, spot; passive – covered by awareness) - wisdom
Survival (handle animal) - wisdom
Treat Injury - wisdom
Religion * - wisdom
Autohypnosis ** - wisdom
Bluff (gamble, disguise, intimidate) - charisma
Diplomacy - charisma - charisma
Streetwise (investigate, streetwise, gather information) - charisma
Perform (act, dance, play instrument, sing, stand-up) - charisma
Use Magic Device * - charisma
* these skills are for a magic/fantasy setting
** these skills are for a psionics/superhero setting

In d20 Modern and other 3.0/3.5 editions skills were managed by applying ranks to make them better. In SWSE and 4.0 skills were consolodated, paired into trained and untrained categories, and became largely tied to ability bonuses and level. Additionally skills became something everyone could do (yes I read through the FAQ). From a play flow and character sheet population perspective, skills became more of a hinderance and occupied valuable sheet space. In light of allowing any character to use any skill, I began to wonder if tracking skills was even useful both from play and sheet space perspectives.

One mechanic I was playing around with was to remove skills in the traditional parlance and move them more into the territory of talents or feats. You may attempt to do anything by using the appropriate ability modifier (ability score bonus + level bonus +/- other bonuses/penalties), and get a random result. By training in a skill, i.e. taking that talent/feat, in that specific case your character is represented as having the training, experience, and practice to do that thing with very little outlay of effort or concentration. Mechanically this means that under a certain difficulty a character with a skill will automatically succeed, a non-random result, rolling only for the most difficult challenges using the appropriate ability modifier. In this case skills now only take up sheet space when they are important, and mechanically speeds up play by either granting automatic successes, or rolling only when needed. This isn't very fleshed out obviously.

I think one of the things that bothers me about skills is the heavy front loading. Between ability score bonus and other bonuses you could have a character easily with a +12 or higher skill bonus. I think at first level a character's bonuses should primarily come from their ability scores, with a few points that could be gained from other places. Maybe find a way to upgrade skills in a more graduated manner, say +1 for training (level 1), +2 for expertise (~level 5, +3 total), +3 for mastery (~level 10, +6 total), and +5 for superiority (~level 15, +11 total).

I was also looking at character classes and backgrounds. In d20 Modern you have a race (Human by default), a starting occupation, classes, advanced classes, and prestige classes. Optimally you would have 5 levels in basic classes, 10 levels in an advanced class, and 5 levels in a prestige class. Your choice of race and starting occupation would give you certain bonuses.

I did like the 4.0 class and background structure and it got me thinking about a modern game's feel and flow. I felt that choices in starting occupation and race, where appropriate, should have a significant formative influence on the character. And class choices should reflect how that character advances as they gain experience.

Race
The unique physical and cultural background of your character. By default your character is Human, other settings may grant additional race choices (Elf, Dwarf, Hobgoblin, etc...). Race grants bonuses to your character's ability scores, features, feats, talents, and/or special abilities to give your character various additional advantages.

Starting Occupation
This describes your character's formal training and experience. The starting occupation defines the skills and influences the character starts with. It describes in abstract the character's basic standard of living, and available personal finances. (I was thinking of using direct money instead of a wealth bonus system when dealing with adventure equipment).

Class
Your choice in class describes your character's mentality, focus, and ability. As you gain levels your choice in class opens up avenues of development in terms of choices in talent, feats, and special abilities. In addition, your choice in class opens up paths of specialization.

Specialty
An optional upgrade that you may take for your class. A specialty takes some core class element and makes it better. You may take a specialty any time you meet its prerequisites, depending on specialty this may occur between level 2 and level 10 at the earliest.

Prestige
Choosing a prestige represents your character "making it" in the world. Like a specialty, you may take a prestige any time you meet its prerequisites regardless of class, the earliest you may take a prestige is at level 15.

Multiclassing
Instead of taking a specialty, you take feats that give you increasing access to the features of another class. At a certain point your second class is recorded on your specialty line. If you wanted to spend the feats, you could multiclass into a third class, this being recorded on your prestige line. So long as you only have two classes, you may either take a specialty for one of them, or take a prestige, this being recorded on your prestige line (you can only have a maximum of 3 classes). Multiclassing is the act of broadening your skills and abilities to take on a wide range of circumstances, rather than narrowly focusing them.

I bottomed out on five Modern base or default classes. I was looking for classes that evoked a certain feel when considered from the perspective of different life strategies to attain success. Originally I started with between 8 and 16 classes and their specializations. I didn't stat them all out, but as deffinate themes developed I began combining and elemenating them until I reached these five classes. I rejected the notion of 4.0 roles, as these were entirely combat driven. Role in a roleplaying game is an archetype, some of it is combat driven, but it also incorporates other elements. The five core classes I bottomed out on are as follows:

Agent
"I'm the one in charge here."
An agent represents the interests of individuals, groups, or larger organizations. Choose the agent class if you want a character that has access to wider resources and who is practiced at affecting the psychology of others.
Specializations: Detective, Enforcer, Officer, Negotiator

Expert
"What do you need me to do."
An expert is a highly educated and or trained individual that brings to bear a formidable list of skills. Choose the expert class if you want a smart character with lots of skills and the ability to maximize effects to change conditions.
Specializations: Ace, Engineer, Medic, Scientist

Fighter (unoriginal I know, but I couldn't think of a better name)
"Get out of my way! I'm going to kill him!"
Fighters focus on direct confrontation and personal survival. Choose the fighter class if you want a character that can take a lot of punishment, and can get the most from a lot of different weapons and armor.
Specializations: Bodyguard, Martial Artist, Soldier, Weapon Master

Gunslinger
"Every fight I'm in is a gun fight."
A gunslinger is the quintessential modern class that focuses on using firearms. Choose the gunslinger class if you want a character that wants to get the most out of using firearms.
Specializations: Duelist, Gunner, Marshal, Sniper

Rogue (unoriginal I know, but I couldn't think of a better name)
Rogues focus on gaining and exploiting advantages. Choose the rogue class if you want a devious character that can outmaneuver and strike for maximum effect.
Specializations: Assassin, Infiltrator, Swindler, Thug

I was thinking of four Prestiges, but hadn't gone any further than some basic ideas.
Commando - ultimate at combat
Secret Agent - ultimate at subterfuge
Professor - ultimate at effects
Executive - ultimate at leadership

Another model I looked at was how levels work. After a point levels largely become meaningless as the benefits of gaining a new level become so diminished as to not be worth it. Or so many benefits are ladeled on, that it breaks the game. One leveling model I was looking at was:

Levels 1 - 20
The character's heroic experience and journey, use the d20 Modern level/experience progression. (I was thinking in the vein of TV or light novel heroes...)

Level "Superior"
The character is in his prime and faces his greatest challenges. After reaching this level the character doesn't advance any more, but does have the ability to retrain abilities (feats, talents, skills, etc...) after reaching experience milestones to best confront challenges. Gain level at 220,000 experience, milestones are every 30,000 experience points thereafter (25 milestones). High likelyhood of retiring at some point. (Equivalent of a level 25ish character, in the vein of movie or epic novel heroes...)

Level "Legendary"
You have gained 1,000,000 experience points, your character has become a living legend. Truely epic. You recieve some benefits upon reaching this level, and have a more robust ability to retrain abilities after reaching new experience milestones. Milestones every 100,000 experience points indeffinately. Character will usually retire after one or two "last adventure(s)". (Equivalent of a level 30ish character, in the vein of ultimate or "real" super heroes...)

Lastly I felt that there were a lot of fantasy, science fiction, and alternate history roleplaying games out there. Games set in a modern setting usually end up being a modern/"something" hybrid, focusing on a genre and throwing in modern elements. For example, d20 Modern at its core felt like D&D with guns. It wasn't hard, but you often had to throw out quite a bit of material to keep it truely modern.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby JaredGaume » Mon Jan 18, 2010 4:30 am

One more note. I was curious about the structure of terms, abilities, and statistics. On my own I came up with this list and usage. It is compressed compared to d20 Modern, SWSE, and D&D 4.0. My goal was about time management for the table and players. I feel that games play best when they keep things moving rather than making endless dice rolls and checks.

d20 Core Mechanic
(The same, but repeated here for completeness)
- Roll d20
- Add relevant modifiers
- Compare to target
- If result is equal to or exceeds target you succeed. If result is less than target you fail.
- Automatic success on a "natural 20" roll.
- Automatic failure on a "natural 1" roll.


Roll Once
Use only one dice roll to determine the outcome of a single action. Add situational modifiers to represent the difficulty or ease in successfully completing the desired action.


Abilities and Feats
I broadly group two elements. First are those elements that enable normal actions and grant bonuses. Second are special actions you may take.

* Abilities: This includes ability scores, but also is a feature of skills, talents, proficiencies, and class features. These are the things your character knows and is able to do. Your character recieves a finite budget of total abilities that he or she may possess at any given time. You start with a number of abilities and gain a new ability every odd level. Your choice of class and background may require you to take mandatory abilities, features of your chosen class and background. Your selection of abilities may influence your bonus scaling.

* Feats: In d20M some feats, talents, and class features let your character take special actions. In this case I am only describing those elements that grant your character special actions. Your character recieves a finite budget of total feats that he or she may possess at any given time. You start with a number of feats and gain a new feat every even level. By default using a feat expends it until you can refresh it either by resting or some other benefit, like spending an action point. At certain levels you may choose to make one of your feats reliable, a reliable feat is never expended and is something you can use at will. Feats are special actions and as such are seperate from bonus scaling.


Actions and Action Points
There are three types of actions. You may take these at any time from the start of your turn until the start of your next turn. On your turn you may freely take your actions. On another character's turn you may only take certain restricted actions such as opportunity attacks, interrupts, and reactions.

* Standard Action: A standard action is normally taken on your turn and represents what your character is doing during the bulk of a round. Standard actions include most types of attacks, regular movement, swapping out equipment, using feats, and so forth. You may only take one standard action during a round. You may trade a standard action down to a swift action.

* Swift Action: A swift action is a minor action that takes up very little time. Most swift actions are conditioning actions, but also include opportunity attacks, interrupts, reactions, shifting, etc... You may only take one swift action during a round. You may trade a swift action down to a free action.

* Free Action: A free action takes up virtually no time and can often be done simultaneously with other actions. Free actions are usually trival acts such as speaking a short phrase, glancing at something, and so forth. Acts that have no real impacts. Some abilities and feats may allow you take more significant actions as a free action, but these are exceptions. In most cases you may only take one discrete free action, but you may be able to take mutiple different free actions during a round.

Action Points: When you spend an action point, by default you immediately gain an extra standard action that you my use during the current round.
Your character’s action points are the ability to act in extraordinary ways. They are also a reward gained for reaching certain milestones. Abilities and feats may either grant you bonuses on use, or alternate uses of your action points. You may only spend one action point on your turn, but you may use as many action points as you like during an encounter. Whenever you take an extended rest, you reset your action points to the base value. Depending on milestones achieved and usage you may have more or less than this amount at any given time.


Motivations
These are important character traits and are used as roleplaying guides. You will list the top three or four motivations your character may have. These include morals and/or ethics (alignment), allegiances, reputation, aspirations, beliefs, and so forth. You may freely change or modify these traits as your character matures and gains new perspectives and experiences.
An alternate rule may allow for motivation points as a reward for roleplaying. These points are sparingly awarded and may grant special situational modifiers.


Statistics
These are defenses, hit points, movement, initiative, etc...

Fortitude = 10 + the better bonus of Strength or Constitution + Level bonus + other bonuses or penalties.
Fortitude describes your character’s ability to resist physical influence from being pushed to staving off poisons. Any time your character takes an amount of damage from a single source that exceeds Fortitude, take an injury. Wearing armor is one way to easily improve Fortitude.

Reflexes = 10 + the better bonus of Dexterity or Intelligence + Level bonus + other bonuses or penalties.
Reflexes describe your character’s reaction time and difficulty to hit. Most attacks must beat your character’s Reflexes in order to hit them in the first place. In addition, your character’s reflexes are used as his or her base initiative score. There are many ways to reduce reflexes such as wearing armor; a few abilities may help you improve this score.

Awareness = 10 + the better bonus of Wisdom or Charisma + Level bonus + other bonuses or penalties.
Awareness describes your character’s attention to his or her environment, the ability to be aware of others, objects, and even motives. Psychological, mental, and even magical attacks usually target a character’s awareness. Hidden characters or objects must have a hide rating better than this score, or the character is aware of them. Awareness can be compromised by wearing restrictive protection like heavy armor or full helmets; a few abilities may help you improve this score.

Hit Points = 10 + Constitution score + Class hit points per level + other bonuses.
Hit points describe your ability to soak punishment, turn deadly strikes into glancing blows, and remain active in combat. They also reflect your character’s skill, luck, and resolve. Any single attack that deals more damage than your character has total or maximum hit points will instantly kill him or her. Any time your character is reduced to 0 hit points he or she is defeated and receives an injury. Defeated characters can no longer act and are susceptible to finishing blows that will kill them.

Recovery = 1 + Constitution bonus + Level bonus + other bonuses, or 1, whichever is greater.
Any time your character heals, he or she regain a number of hit points equal to their recovery value. As a standard action a character may “catch your breath” and recover hit points. Some abilities may improve your character’s recovery value. Some healing attempts initiated by other characters may grant a bonus to your character’s recovery.

Current Hit Points: Record your character’s current hit points here. To start with and after resting this number is equal to your character’s hit point total or value. As your character takes damage, reduce current hit points. Current hit points cannot be less than 0, at 0 hit points your character is defeated.

Conditions: Conditions are physical factors that provide bonuses and penalties to your character. For example hardness is a condition granted by armor that reduces damage prior to your character taking it. Injuries are a condition that places a –5 penalty to many of your character’s stats while you have any injury present. There are many possible conditions that might be placed on your character.

Move: Movement is traced in spaces, a space is the area occupied by a figure. The distance a space represents depends on scale. For characters it is assumed personal scale, the space equals roughly 5 feet. By default humans move 6 spaces. If your character’s Dexterity bonus is greater than default movement, this bonus becomes the character’s base move value. You move your character up to his or her move score as a standard action. Some abilities and feats may allow you to move your character in different ways.

Initiative = Reflexes score + other bonuses.
Initiative represents your character’s ability to react and act during an encounter. At the start of an encounter all actors are ranked according to their Initiative score from highest to lowest. The highest ranked character acts first, then the remainder in order. Ties are broken by a simple d20 + Dexterity modifier contest roll; the winner goes ahead of the loser. Some abilities and actions may allow you to change your character’s position in the initiative order.

Readied Attacks: Your character may have up to two attacks readied. Readied attacks are the weapons your character chooses to equip designating a first and second attack. You start combat with your first weapon. Switching between readied attacks is a swift action. Swapping out a readied attack to use another carried weapon is a standard action. Some abilities and attacks may adjust this general rule.

Defenses: You record three defenses: armor, protection, and technique. Armor is a system of protection that helps reduce injuries and fatalities. Protection is equipment like helmets, shields, or materials that grant you special additional protection. Technique is a technology and/or skill that grants a bonus against certain types of attacks or damage. These lines record what you have prepared and the benefit granted. These benefits may be applied to other statistics as bonuses. It usually takes several minutes to prepare defenses, making this an act that cannot be done during combat.

Milestones: Every time you complete any encounter without being defeated you achieve a milestone. At the start of an encounter you are granted a number of bonus action points equal to your current milestone. When you achieve your fourth milestone you reset to 0 milestones and are immediately granted 3 action points at the end of the current encounter. Some abilities may grant you additional benefits for reaching the milestones. Any time you take an extended rest you reset to 0 milestones and receive no milestone benefits.


Attributes (Ability scores, I wanted to differentiate between this and abilities)
Attributes represent the raw potential of a character. Points and bonuses are used as prerequisites for abilities and feats, and are added to improve a character’s various statistics. It is assumed that a character is capable of and may succeed at anything. The higher the character’s attribute score and associated bonus, the more likely a character will succeed performing acts that are based on that attribute.

Point Buy
You are given a pool of points to assign to your character’s attributes. For each point you assign to an attribute, increase that attribute by the assigned number of points. You may subtract points from an attribute score; add the subtracted points to your point pool. All attribute points from your pool must be assigned before your character is considered valid. Your point pool is determined by the campaign setting’s realism level. The standard array is fast shorthand for how points may be distributed if you do not want to assign the points yourself. Depending on your GM, he or she may want you to use the standard array. By default the realism level is heroic, but the other levels are also listed below.
Base Scores: All attribute scores start at 10 and are adjusted by pool points. The maximum base score you may give your character is 18 and the minimum is 8 for a given attribute.
Realistic: 10 point buy pool. Standard array: 14, 14, 13, 11, 10, 8. Not normally used.
Heroic: 15 point buy pool. Standard array: 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10. The default setting.
Super Heroic: 25 point buy pool. Standard array: 16, 16, 15, 14, 12, 12. Not normally used.
Bonus: Score bonus = (Score – 10) ÷ 2, round fractions down.
Modifier: Score bonus + Level bonus + some other modifiers.

Strength: Strength is your character’s raw muscular power, the ability to move objects in the environment.
• Strength score determines your character’s carrying capacity.
• Strength bonus is applied to melee or thrown weapon damage rolls.
• Strength bonus may apply to your character’s Fortitude score.
• Use your Strength modifier when making checks of athleticism, intimidation, or other acts of Strength.

Constitution: Constitution is your character’s innate vitality and toughness, the ability to ignore or push through pain, fatigue, or ill effects.
• Constitution score is your character’s base hit points.
• Constitution bonus is applied to your character’s recovery value.
• Constitution bonus may apply to your character’s Fortitude score.
• Use your Constitution modifier when making checks of endurance, concentration, or other acts of Constitution.

Dexterity: Dexterity is a description of your character’s coordination, reaction time, and mobility.
• Dexterity bonus is applied to all attack rolls.
• Use your Dexterity bonus as your move score if it is greater than your base movement.
• Dexterity bonus may apply to your character’s Reflexes score.
• Use your Dexterity modifier when making checks of balance, subterfuge, or other acts of Dexterity.

Intelligence: Intelligence is your character’s measure of knowledge, recall, reason, and logic.
• Intelligence bonus is applied to effects damage, such as ongoing or area damage.
• Your Intelligence bonus affects the number of additional languages your character might know.
• Intelligence bonus may apply to your character’s Reflexes score.
• Use your Intelligence modifier when making checks of knowledge, search, navigation, skill, or other acts of intelligence.

Wisdom: Wisdom is a measure of your character’s senses and perception, the ability to instinctively understand the flow of events.
• Wisdom bonus is applied as a bonus to another character’s recovery when you heal them.
• Wisdom bonus may apply to your character’s Awareness score.
• Use your Wisdom modifier when making checks of perception, luck, or other acts of wisdom.

Charisma: Charisma describes your character’s attractiveness and force of personality, the ability to understand and influence others.
• Your character’s base Action Points equal your Charisma bonus or 0, whichever is greater.
• Charisma bonus may apply to your character’s Awareness score.
• Use your Charisma modifier when making checks of coercion, diplomacy, sense motives, or other acts of charisma.



Abilities
Abilities describe features, talents, and skills inherent to your character. You may only have a limited number of abilities at any given time as determined by your level. You get your abilities from a variety of sources such as your race, class, and profession. Abilities grant you a situational bonus rather than any particular action. At first level you have 9 ability slots (need to balance this), you gain a new ability every odd level.

Features: A feature is a mandatory ability that you must select. Your choice of race, class, and profession will determine how many features you are required to take. Features are the most powerful of your abilities, granting the greatest level of benefit. Features cannot be retrained, though some feature subsets that have not been upgraded may allow you to retrain.

Talents: Talents are optional abilities that you may take. Some talents may be free to take, while others may require you to meet one or more prerequisites. While talents are less powerful than features, the bonus granted may further improve a feature or skill, or give you access to some proficiency or skill that you didn’t have before. Talents that have not been upgraded may be freely retrained.

Skills: A skill is the learned capacity to carry out pre-determined results often with the minimum outlay of time, energy, or both. You learn skills from your choice of profession and may be something that is either a feature of that profession, or something you may choose. Skills either grant proficiencies, or automatic successes or situational bonuses when making specific attribute checks (need to work on this). You automatically qualify to take profession skills; you will have to take one of a number of skill expanding talents to take skills outside your profession. Skills that are not profession features and have not been upgraded may be freely retrained.

Retraining: Every time your character gains a new level you may retrain qualified abilities.

Upgrade Ability: At first level you may upgrade 2 of your abilities. As you gain levels you will be given further opportunities to upgrade your abilities. Some abilities have upgrade chains; this changes the ability name and grants an expanded bonus. Not all abilities have upgrade chains. An upgraded ability becomes a character feature and cannot be retrained.

Languages: It is assumed you know how to speak, read, and write your native language. Write this language in the languages box. You may know a number of additional languages if you have an intelligence bonus of +1 or higher. Your intelligence bonus grants you a number of language points equal to the bonus. Speaking an additional language costs 1 language point. Being able to read and write an additional language costs 1 language point, and requires that you can speak that language. Thus each additional language you might know how to speak, read, and write costs 2 language points. Your choice of race may grant you one or two additional languages that you may automatically know. Taking the Linguistics talent will allow you to know many more languages and be able to decipher ones you don’t know.


Feats
Feats are special actions your character knows how to perform. These may be attacks, reactions, special modes of movement, or some other act. A feat is a non-standard action that not just anyone can perform. Under controlled conditions it is conceivable that anyone can potentially do anything. A feat represents the training and experience to pull off a specific non-standard action under any circumstances. You may only know a limited number of feats at any given time. At first level you know 4 feats (need to balance this), you gain a new feat every even level.

Action Feats: These feats are standard actions that you may perform on your turn.

Condition Feats: These feats are swift actions that you may take to gain a bonus or some other benefit on your turn.

Reaction Feats: These feats allow you to react to something an enemy or some other character is doing on their turn. Used to interrupt enemies, benefit allies, or increase the cost of failure for those that attack you. Most reaction feats are swift actions, but some more potent ones may be standard actions.

Refresh: Normally once you use a feat you cannot use it again until after you have rested. Some abilities allow you to spend an action point to recover an expended feat.

Reliable Feats: As your character gains levels he or she will be allowed to make some feats reliable. A reliable feat may be used at-will and never needs to be refreshed. A reliable feat cannot be retrained.

Upgrade Feat: Some feats have upgrade chains, as your character gains levels you will be given opportunities to upgrade his or her feats. An upgraded feat cannot be retrained.

Retraining: Every time your character gains a new level you may retrain qualified feats.


Wealth and Starting Equipment
Your wealth is defined by your profession. Record your character’s wealth level, receive starting money, and purchase personal equipment. Every character receives the same amount of starting money; this is independent of personal wealth. Characters may take abilities to improve wealth level and available starting money. Personal equipment is assumed to be items that the character either directly carries or will be in near proximity. Starting money and personal equipment reflects character background, professional development and outfitting, and personal acquisition.

Wealth Level: A character’s wealth is a reflection of financial income, security, assets, and private property. It is assumed the character has possession of trivial items, and possessions consistent with their wealth. These assets are considered background property and not necessarily directly used by the character during adventures, unless the adventure plot ties into these things. The main benefit the character receives from their wealth is the daily cash refresh. After any extended rest, if the character has less money than the refresh rate, money now equals the refresh. Some abilities may allow a character to leverage their personal wealth to acquire additional cash.

Money: This is the amount of cash a character has at their immediate disposal. The money can be physical cash, or assets that are easily acquired such as credit or a personal check.

Starting Money: Regardless of background, all characters start with the same amount of cash, say $10,000. This money reflects a combination of personal assets, equipment acquired over time, and professional outfitting. Characters may take abilities that can increase the amount of starting money. Any money that is not spent remains money available to the character.

Equipment: This is the personal equipment the character either has on his or her person, or is in near proximity and easily retrieved. Assets that are kept at home or in some other personal storage are assumed part of the character’s wealth assets and thus not readily available. Some technology like sophisticated prosthetics is considered equipment and listed here.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby JaredGaume » Mon Jan 18, 2010 4:56 am

I came up with this level table to describe character advancement using my previously mentioned upgrade system:

Advancement Table.jpg
Advancement Table.jpg (50.94 KiB) Viewed 14773 times


Level: Level represents your character’s level of experience and overall competence. Levels 1 through 20 describe your character’s heroic journey. The Superior level describes your character as having made it and really in his or her prime as a heroic character. Reaching Legendary level, your character has reached a level where his or her exploits will be widely remembered, and is now a living legend.

Experience: The minimum number of experience points needed to reach this level.

Bonus: This is your character’s 1/2 level bonus. This bonus is broadly applied to attributes, attack rolls, and various other statistics.

Abilities: The number of abilities your character may have at a given level.

Feats: The number of feats your character may have at a given level.


Bonuses
Bonuses are the special features granted by attaining a given level. Every time you gain a new level you may retrain. Below are listed the bonuses described in the table.

Starting Features: Upgrade 2 abilities and 1 feat.

Upgrade Ability: Upgrade 1 ability. Legendary characters will have 8 ability upgrades.

Reliable Feat: Make 1 feat reliable. Legendary characters will have 7 reliable feats.

Upgrade Feat: Upgrade 1 feat. Legendary characters will have 8 feat upgrades.

+1 to 1 Attribute Score: Choose an attribute score and increase it 1 point. Legendary characters potentially could apply a +7 bonus to one attribute score.

Superior Features: Considered level 25 for purposes of level based bonuses. Upgrade 1 ability and 1 feat. Make 1 feat reliable. Receive a +1 bonus to all attribute scores. All qualified abilities and feats may be retrained. Receive Experience Milestones: for each additional 30,000 experience points gained, all qualified abilities and feats may be retrained. Note you may not retrain upgraded abilities, upgraded feats, or reliable feats.

Legendary Features: Considered level 30 for purposes of level based bonuses. Upgrade 1 ability and 1 feat. Make 1 feat reliable. Receive a +1 bonus to all attribute scores. All abilities and feats may be retrained including features. All prerequisites must be met. Receive new Experience Milestones: Every 100,000 experience points gained, all abilities and feats may be retrained, including features, but all prerequisites must be met. Note, any retraining of upgraded abilities and feats grants a pool of upgrade points; these points must be spent to upgrade valid abilities and feats.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby j0lt » Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:56 am

I don't think that going in the direction of 4e is what we're looking to do here. The character class mechanic is far too restrictive, the multi-classing virtually nonexistant, and everything about the system is designed to pigeon-hole players into combat roles with a complete disregard for all other aspects of RPGs.

Beyond that, I'd really like to see the power curve of this system slightly lowered from other d20 games, but not in the heavy-handed approach that was done in 4e. I believe e20 should be about giving players the options to make the characters they want in whatever setting they want. The talent tree system does exactly that.

Gary's outline of the project made it look like a Saga-style update on a d20 Modern-inspired base, which is exactly what I'm looking for in a game system.

That being said...

JaredGaume wrote:- Automatic success on a "natural 20" roll.
- Automatic failure on a "natural 1" roll.

Roll Once
Use only one dice roll to determine the outcome of a single action. Add situational modifiers to represent the difficulty or ease in successfully completing the desired action.

I cannot agree more with this. For example, when making an area attack, having to make separate attack rolls for each creature in the area is both time consuming and illogical.
Action Points: When you spend an action point, by default you immediately gain an extra standard action that you my use during the current round.
Your character’s action points are the ability to act in extraordinary ways. They are also a reward gained for reaching certain milestones. Abilities and feats may either grant you bonuses on use, or alternate uses of your action points. You may only spend one action point on your turn, but you may use as many action points as you like during an encounter. Whenever you take an extended rest, you reset your action points to the base value. Depending on milestones achieved and usage you may have more or less than this amount at any given time.

This is just the 4e Action Point mechanic retyped. I don't like anything about this mechanic. It's limited in scope, and relies on the clunky mechanic of milestones. Action Points in d20M and Saga were designed to be much more useful and allow characters to stand out from the average redshirt.
Languages: It is assumed you know how to speak, read, and write your native language. Write this language in the languages box. You may know a number of additional languages if you have an intelligence bonus of +1 or higher. Your intelligence bonus grants you a number of language points equal to the bonus. Speaking an additional language costs 1 language point. Being able to read and write an additional language costs 1 language point, and requires that you can speak that language. Thus each additional language you might know how to speak, read, and write costs 2 language points. Your choice of race may grant you one or two additional languages that you may automatically know. Taking the Linguistics talent will allow you to know many more languages and be able to decipher ones you don’t know.

I like this idea, and have used a similar houserule in a Sidewinder: Recoiled game.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby j0lt » Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:29 am

While they're not mine, I also really like Rich Burlew's Diplomacy houserule and Knowledge skill houserule.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby JaredGaume » Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:35 am

I agree that 4e is not the direction e20 should go in. I do think that 4e had some good ideas, and then proceeded to ruin itself with too many "good" ideas.

In RPGs I tend to get thrown off track every time the game veers into combat. You get a nice little narrative going, things are clipping along nicely, and then you fight. The game then bogs down into an exercise in minutia and "realism" debates. I would like to see a clean combat model that keeps the narrative flow going and doesn't slow it down or stop it.

That said, unless we intend to scrap classes alltogether there is going to be some degree of pigeonholing players into certain directions. Having played a few "classless" RPGs I found no particular weight to character choices both in-game and in meta-game. Even SWSE does classes. The difference is that in 4e your classes choke you on a few class features without any real choice or direction. In SWSE you get class talents, trees of abilities that you can choose from to get your character to work the way you want. Class gives you a broad sweep of an archetype, but its features should give you options.

For example, say you chose to be an Expert class character. One of the features might be Expert Training. Up front it gives you some bonus like say: You get a +1 bonus on all trained skill checks, choose one of the following areas of expertise: Demolitions, First Responder, Mechanics, Scholar. Each of these areas is a class talent, you get one up front for free, and you can take the other ones to taste. Further, each of these talents can be upgraded, making them even better. In this example anyone can use the same skills, weapons, or tech as an expert, but an expert takes these things to a whole other level. Later you may choose to specialize your expert, further focusing what you are good at. Alternately you may choose to multiclass to broaden your abilities. You don't get the same sick bonuses as a specialist, but you are more useful in a wider array of circumstances.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby j0lt » Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:51 am

Yeah, as far as class-based systems go, I really like the SWSE system. It's specific enough that you know what your basic character type is, but generic enough that you could have a whole party using the same base class, and they could be made differently enough that each character would be unique.
For making "real world" type people, I haven't found a better class system than d20 Modern. I really hope that by blending the two systems, we can make a game that can handle both the fantastic and the mundane equally well.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby JaredGaume » Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:56 am

j0lt wrote:
JaredGaume wrote:Action Points: When you spend an action point, by default you immediately gain an extra standard action that you my use during the current round.
Your character’s action points are the ability to act in extraordinary ways. They are also a reward gained for reaching certain milestones. Abilities and feats may either grant you bonuses on use, or alternate uses of your action points. You may only spend one action point on your turn, but you may use as many action points as you like during an encounter. Whenever you take an extended rest, you reset your action points to the base value. Depending on milestones achieved and usage you may have more or less than this amount at any given time.

This is just the 4e Action Point mechanic retyped. I don't like anything about this mechanic. It's limited in scope, and relies on the clunky mechanic of milestones. Action Points in d20M and Saga were designed to be much more useful and allow characters to stand out from the average redshirt.

I actually liked the 4e Action Point mechanic for the most part, I found the d20M and SWSE use of APs to not be that exceptional. That is until you got talents that let you spend action points in powerful ways. As a base line I think that Action Points should exapand your actions. Secondly, I do not like per-level Action Points. You either horde them for when you REALLY need them, or you spend them all and have none for when it counts.

I think you should get a number of Action Points to start with, say 5 for sake of argument. How you got those 5 points is another matter. Every time you rest you get those 5 points, so if you spend them all, by resting you get them back. As a baseline you spend an action point to get an extra action. You may also get bonuses that activate any time you spend an action point. Just like in d20M and SWSE you may have abilities that let you spend action points in different ways. And lastly, you may spend as many action points in a single encounter as you like.

4e stopped you from getting very many action points, and you only got to spend ONE a for an entire encounter?!? I hated that.

I did like a mechanical reason to pick up more action points. Some people like the idea of handing out action points as a GM reward. However, I think that action points should be a reward for intensity of action. If you keep resting you aren't generating more action, you are stopping, you only get your baseline action points. If you plow on ahead you should be rewarded for keeping the pace and tempo up. You end one encounter and start the next without resting, get a free action point. Do this twice in a row, get two more action points. Do this three times in a row get three more action points. You may even have abilities that grant you some additional benfit for keeping the pace and tempo up. Say a Fighter talent that grants an attack bonus for the encounter.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby JaredGaume » Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:13 am

j0lt wrote:Yeah, as far as class-based systems go, I really like the SWSE system. It's specific enough that you know what your basic character type is, but generic enough that you could have a whole party using the same base class, and they could be made differently enough that each character would be unique.
For making "real world" type people, I haven't found a better class system than d20 Modern. I really hope that by blending the two systems, we can make a game that can handle both the fantastic and the mundane equally well.

Yeah I like both those points about SWSE and d20M classes. The five classes I proposed were an observation of d20M and expanded materials, along with real life mentalities.

For example, in real life I am a technician for a leading edge tech company. But if I were to describe my mentality, I would say that I am a fighter. I thrive on direct confrontation of problems and people, I have no patience for screwing around on "academic exercises", but I have a head for machines. I work with plenty of backstabbers and opportunists who would love nothing better than to throw me under the bus and take credit for my work (Rogues). I have managers whos job is to make sure I am following the "company rules" (Agents). My work is supervised by engineers who have all the information and data needed to understand the machines I work on, far more than I could ever hope to do (Experts). There are a fair number of avid hunters at my workplace (Gunslingers), that basically hold down their jobs in order to pay for their real passion, hunting.

In d20M you weren't just a class, but you also had a starting occupation. So you could be a Tough Blue Collar guy, or a Tough soldier (Military), and so on. What I propose is to keep the occupations, and make them more deffinative. You have your archetype (Class) and your formal training (Occupation). From a choices standpoint, I think that even further nuances the game design even from SWSE. Especially if you have your choice in occupation(s) provide you with some unique talent(s). (There is a multi-occupation ability in there somewhere).
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby Jimmy Plamondon » Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:52 am

Quickly before going to work...

GMsarli said something about sticking with talent trees up to the prestige levels, possibly adding advanced talent trees and prestige talent trees. I love that idea. It gives more options, more versatility. Great idea. While I do not know what GMsarli has in mind exactly, I can see an advanced/prestige talent tree becoming available simply with pre-requisites (level, ability scores, feats and other talents from other talent trees). Great.

As for firearms, I do agree that any trained professional (from personal experience, I can testify that law enforcement people do anyway...) can use a firearm in close quarters (shooting from the hip for example). If anybody gets to close, he can also get a nasty pistol barrel down his sternum (no shooting even involved here). So yeah, I would not give an attack of opportunity for firearms. Really, the biggest thing one can fear from having a firearm in melee is that up this close, the goon can grab your gun. Its a somewhat easier feat with longarms compared to handguns. If you happen to wrestle for your gun, or use it to deliver a strike, you also risk to put your gun out of battery... but that's getting too technical here.

Also, someone mentioned giving more options with Action Points, not less. This is a step in the right direction.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby Jimmy Plamondon » Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:53 am

As for classes... could it be an option to get rid of them and define your character thru the talent and skills you select?
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby Jakinbandw » Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:13 am

Just a couple things. I think that once we have a skill list down it would be kind of neat to be able to buy advanced talents for skills. Maybe only two a skill or so, but it would allow people to specialize in a skill without putting the while I buy 1 skill rank this level... Yay!

With all this talk of action point (and I am hesitant to say it because the idea comes from a small home brew system I am working on) I would like to throw out there some other uses. In combat characters start with 3 advantage points and can gain more by doing something that would give them an advantage, for instance successfully taunting an opponent, or getting a critical. They can spend them on effects such as; Autohits, take less damage from one attack, directly opposing another characters action, an extra action, or more damage. I'm not saying that all of these would work for this game, but they do offer quite a bit lower chance of loss due to bad dice rolls (though it can happen).

Finally my favorite house-ruling for d20 modren was an experiance system where after the session we sat down and wrote down our characters 5 best moments in the session. Then as a group with the gm having the final say we graded them on coolness, difficulty, effectiveness, and sanity (doing something stupid like jumping into the middle of a room with automatic weapons fire all around got a low sanity score for instance). We added up all the points and that was our xp for the session.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby j0lt » Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:23 am

JaredGaume wrote:Yeah I like both those points about SWSE and d20M classes. The five classes I proposed were an observation of d20M and expanded materials, along with real life mentalities.

In d20M you weren't just a class, but you also had a starting occupation. So you could be a Tough Blue Collar guy, or a Tough soldier (Military), and so on. What I propose is to keep the occupations, and make them more deffinative. You have your archetype (Class) and your formal training (Occupation). From a choices standpoint, I think that even further nuances the game design even from SWSE. Especially if you have your choice in occupation(s) provide you with some unique talent(s). (There is a multi-occupation ability in there somewhere).

In a 3.x edition d20 game Starting Occupations are a great way to add character versatility, but in a system without the restriction of class/cross-class skills they become unnecessary.
Jimmy Plamondon wrote:As for classes... could it be an option to get rid of them and define your character thru the talent and skills you select?

I've thought about that off and on as well, but until we crunch the numbers we won't really know if it would really be better than using a generic class system.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby DTemplar5 » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:04 am

After having read the FAQ, I noticed something interesting....

e20 System Evolved FAQ wrote:Q: How about skills?

A: The e20 System is using skills similar to those found in 3.0/3.5, d20M, SWSE, and 4E. Unlike 3.0/3.5 and d20M, we will not be using skill points because I've found that the flexibility gained is not sufficient to offset the complexity added. Instead, skills will be "trained" or "untrained" -- much like in some of the variants in Unearthed Arcana, or in SWSE or 4E -- and skill bonuses increase as you gain levels.

Also unlike most d20-based games, skills are truly universal -- everyone can use every skill. Some skills do have "trained-only" applications, and some genres might add extra applications to existing skills, but skills are fundamentally available to everyone.

One of the biggest departures of the e20 System from earlier d20-based games is the inclusion of weapon skills. There is no longer such as thing as "weapon proficiency"; instead, each weapon group (a fairly broad category) has an associated skill; if you're trained in it, you have a higher skill modifier (which in turn is used to make attacks, etc.), just as you would with any other skill.

Finally, one concept under consideration is de-coupling skills from ability scores. A given skill might default to a particular ability score for most applications, but it could nevertheless work with a different ability score depending on the situation. For example, a character's skill with a rifle is paired with Dexterity to make an attack roll, but it might be paired with Intelligence if attempting to repair or maintain the weapon, and it might be paired with Strength if you're wielding a bayonet mounted on the barrel. (This is a more experimental concept, so the details are going to be greatly influenced by patron input.)


(Emphasis mine)

The direction I see this going is that you can have a skill to handle anything; skill for swordfighting, magic, etc. If you play with the skill scaling correctly; you can have the fighter-type able to dabble a bit in magical powers, but yet not have anywhere near the same level of power as, say, the decidated magic user, as the fighter's skill rating would be just at the trained level, while the dedicated magic user hit at level defenses (mastery of this sort should probably be achieved through talents, but I'm not sure about it). The reverse is true for the fighter
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby JaredGaume » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:44 am

j0lt wrote:
JaredGaume wrote:Yeah I like both those points about SWSE and d20M classes. The five classes I proposed were an observation of d20M and expanded materials, along with real life mentalities.

In d20M you weren't just a class, but you also had a starting occupation. So you could be a Tough Blue Collar guy, or a Tough soldier (Military), and so on. What I propose is to keep the occupations, and make them more deffinative. You have your archetype (Class) and your formal training (Occupation). From a choices standpoint, I think that even further nuances the game design even from SWSE. Especially if you have your choice in occupation(s) provide you with some unique talent(s). (There is a multi-occupation ability in there somewhere).

In a 3.x edition d20 game Starting Occupations are a great way to add character versatility, but in a system without the restriction of class/cross-class skills they become unnecessary.

[yoda]"Unlearn what you have learned, you must"[/yoda]
I'm not advocating using starting occupations in the same way as 3.x. For example, someone with a military or law enforcement background is going to have weapon and combat training as a feature of their occupation. A white collar employee might have those things, but its something he or she is going to have to get on their own time and expense. From a game standpoint a combat oriented occupation would get some combat skills/talents up front, where any other character would have to burn their development budget to get those same things. This creates a synergy between occupation and class in certain directions that isn't just a "select skill and make it a class skill with a +1 bonus." With classes being open enough, choice of occupation can be used to further validate certain character choices, or provide unique benefits in terms of occupation skills or talents. Think of an occupation as the back 1/4 to 1/2 of your class at first level.

From a genre feel, I like my Modern character to have a "day job" since adventures realistically are probably the exception rather than the norm. Otherwise every character is going to have to be an adventurer, mercenary, police officer, military man, bounty hunter, or criminal to justify their otherwise antisocial activities. I.e. I make my living as an action hero by beating up "bad guys" and taking their stuff. Although with those occupation choices, that is a valid option, just not the only one.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby JaredGaume » Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:35 am

I was thinking about action scales, just throwing this out there.

Regular figure: A regular figure is a figure at that scale that occupies a regular space (1x1, 2x2, 3x3, etc...) and can move in any direction at will. For example, your character is a regular figure at close scale.

Irregular figure: An irregular figure is a figure that does not occupy a regular space and/or must follow special movement rules at a particular scale. For example, a car is an irregular figure at close scale.

Close scale: A space represents the regular area occupied and controlled by a character. This scale is traditionally 1" = 5 feet, but could be situationally adjusted. Regular movement rate remains the same, since slight expansion or contraction of this scale also incorporates the level of clutter and obstical navigation. A character can occupy any point in his or her space at any time. With a move 6 (30 feet) per round, a regular figure at close scale is moving at about 3 mph.

Wide scale: A space represents the regular action space of a vehicle at low speed, and represents breaking, turning, speeding up, and slowing down to cover ground. This scale is traditionally 1" = 50 feet, but could be situationally adjusted. Like at close scale, slight expansion or contraction of this scale also incorporates the level of clutter and obstical navigation. A vehicle or object may occupy any point in this space at any time. With a move 6 (300 feet) per round, a regular figure at wide scale is moving at about 30 mph.

Flight scale: A space represents the regular action space of aircraft or ground vehicles going "all out". This scale is traditionally 1" = 500 feet, but can also cover wider and more abstract dimensions (such as space flight, or very high speeds). A regular figure may occupy any point in this space at any time, and the regular space (1x1, 2x2, 3x3, etc...) represents both size and maneuverability. With a move 6 (3,000 feet) per round, a regular figure at flight scale is moving at about 300 mph, though different final speeds are possible. A vehicle operating at flight scale isn't likely going to directly interact with smaller scales, but may be able to influence conditions on the ground, like by fireing into a smaller scale conflict as an example.

The top speed for a figure (character or vehicle) comes into play as they act in larger scales. For example at close scale your character moves and acts normally, but at wide scale is pretty much only able to move one space a round, and doesn't actually "control" the space he or she may occupy. At flight scale your character is a figure in a space, but for all intents and purposes is immobile, a static object. A high end sports car (250 mph top speed for example) going all out on flight scale has a regular movement of 5 spaces (500 feet per space).

Regular figures at a scale are more or less able to take the same actions such as "move", "run", "charge", etc...

Since vehicles can have multiple occupants, each is able to take an action where appropriate for that vehicle. Turns are defined by the regular figure, not its individual occupants. So on a vehicle's turn, the driver/pilot moves the vehicle. Someone in a position to attack, like out a window, or uses a turret, gets to make an attack. And other vehicle positions may grant additional options for occupant characters.

I feel that with consistant scales and rules of action, the tactical nature of wider combat can be more easily rendered. In d20M I wasn't too keen on vehicle combat rules, but did like the SWSE take on space combat. I was wondering if that would scale down just as easily.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby Felix Le Rouzes » Mon Jan 18, 2010 1:42 pm

Being at work I'll make this first post rather succint.

In all my D20 games the single consistent houserule has been about hit points gained when leveling. Instead of rolling I give my players 3/4 of their hit die and for those who like to roll, I let them roll, but at worst they get 1/2 their hit die. Its not very elegant, but it worked well enough for me. As such, I'd like to see a less random system for gaining hit points, especially for classes that usually have the bigger hit dices. (d10, d12)
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby JaredGaume » Mon Jan 18, 2010 2:42 pm

j0lt, you got me thinking more about multiclassing. And you are right, 4e is pretty cludgy in that respect. Basically in 4e you get to take feats that allow you to snag powers and feats from other classes. At level 11, instead of going down a paragon path, you get to multi-class into a second class getting all of its features. 4e presents a fairly jarring staccatto in level advancement. I think they got some of the math right, but then proceeded to pigeonhole themselves.

What if there was a talent that let you snag the first talent or feature in a base class exclusive tree, once you do that you can now freely take talents from that tree as you are able. You may continue taking this talent, each time allowing you to take the first talent in a tree from another class. This allows you to openly dabble across classes, but at the deteriment of focusing your base class.

You then have a multi-class talent. Its pre-requisite is that you used the previous talent to grab all the class features of a second (third, fourth, etc..) class. If you meet the prerequisite you are now fully part of that class. The benefit of multi-classing is that now you take the best bonuses from all your different classes. You may also specialize in any class that you now possess. Multi-classing does have you trade off some focused power in exchange for a greater range of options.

For example (this isn't complete), for sake of argument say you have the following base classes and bonuses. I am leaving out features for now, just assume for multi-classing purposes you have to get three of them with the cross-class talent(s).

Agent: +3 Awareness, +2 hit points per level.
Expert: +2 Reflexes, +2 Awareness, +2 hit points per level.
Fighter: +3 Fortitude, +4 hit points per level.
Gunslinger: +2 Fortitude, +2 Reflexes, +3 hit points per level.
Rogue: +3 Reflexes, +3 hit points per level.

Say you start off as an Expert because you wanted some mad skills. However, you decide that you would be a better party contributer if you picked up some Gunslinger features. Eventually you grab all three Gunslinger features and pop the multi-class talent. Now you have:
Expert/Gunslinger: +2 Fortitude, +2 Reflexes, +2 Awareness, and +3 hit points per level. You may now take either an Expert or a Gunslinger specialty if you meet the prerequisites.

Using the description of abilities that I gave further back, at first level you may take 9 abilities. The balance could be that based on your race (human), and occupation (maybe only 1 feature), your class only drops 3 features, and you still have 5 ability slots left. You choose the cross-class talents and grab the three features from a second class, and then grab the multi-class talent. At first level you now have two classes, few skills, and 1 ability slot left to take an ability of your choice. You now have a broader ability base and a little tougher character. However, had you stuck with only one class, you could have used those 5 ability slots to really amp him up with more skills and focused abilities. Its your choice whether you want to focus your character, or make him a jack of all trades but a master of none.

I was also thinking of Gary's example of the classic Fighter 19 / Mage 1 multiclass. You basically are an awesome fighter, but at level 20 one level of mage gives you almost nothing useful. I think with the above idea you would still be a level 20 character, but you could mix and match Fighter and Mage abilities to best effect. Alternately if there was one targeted talent or feature that you wanted you could get that too, no fuss, no muss. Coupled with the ability to retrain one ability or feat every time you level up you could start off as a single class, become really good at it, then multi-class, and then start retraining targeted abilities and feats to get the mix you want.


Felix, I agree that a less random hit point progression is a good thing. We may debade final numbers and methods, but the more the game reaches a level of choices or ROLE playing as opposed to arbitrary randomness or ROLL playing, I think it improves the game. We just have to find a way to avoid the 4e design traps.

To restate: I think that ability scores and bonuses should mean something, especially at first level. By gaining levels you slowly gain additional bonuses that can mitigate early character weaknesses. For example maybe use this hit point model:

Hit Points = 10 + Constitution score + Class hit points per level + other bonuses.

On the low end an Expert might get 20 hit points at level 1 (10 + 8 Constitution + 2 hit points per level + no other bonuses). With no other boosts, by level 20 that same character would have 58 hit points (10 + 8 Constitution + 2 hit points per level (40) + no other bonuses).

On the high end a Fighter might get 42 hit points at level 1 (10 + 20 Constitution + 4 hit points per level + Tough Fighter ability (3 hit points + 1 per level) + Toughness Talent (another 3 hit points + 1 per level)). With additional Fighter specialty and prestige boosts, by level 20 that same character might have as many as 204 hit points (10 + 25 Constitution + 4 hit points per level (80) + Tough Fighter ability (3 hit points + 1 per level (23)) + Toughness Talent (another 3 hit points + 1 per level (23)) + Fighter Survivor Talent (Bodyguard? or Soldier? or both?) (3 hit points + 1 per level (23)) + 1 hit points per level (20, Commando)). In that extreme example the character is getting +8 hit points per level almost exclusively from class choices.

On average most characters will probably fall somewhere between those two extremes.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby valetutto » Mon Jan 18, 2010 4:12 pm

Criticals.
While I agree they must be simple and it would be nice if they "give you something" I'm having a hard time getting behind an automatic success or failure. Yes a natural 20 is awesome but it comes with the natural 1. Maybe thats ok for combat rolls but for skills it flatout doesn't make sense, its akin to having my Opera Friend step out on stage and suddenly forget lines the 20th time he's done the preformance. But even for combat it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I do a lot of fighting(IRL) and this would indicate that any opponent could hit me 5% of the time which simply isn't the case. If I've got 10yrs of experience on the guy he's just not going to get me with a 5% frequancy. Now, that being said, I do like action points and I think allowing them to be spent to confirm the critical would limit the 5% a great deal.
For example, you roll the 20 and you wouldn't actually hit even with a 20, you cold spend an action point and get a lucy hit in. This would only do normal damage, if you'd hit the guy on a roll of 19 but actually roll a 20 you could spend the action point to get double damage. Failures would be confirmed by the GM spending an action point.

Someone earlier was talking about a way to award points to promote game play. I like this and the first thing that comes to mind is DeadLands. Deadlands uses fate chips. Fate chips do fun thing and if unspent turn into xp. The Storyteller can give you fate chips for doing something he likes weather it be fast and loose and just be making him laugh really hard or if the player was very creative and solved a puzzle in a unique way. "Fate" (hand of the GM) smiles upon you and you can use the fate chips to avoid unfortunate circumstances. The drawback with Deadlands is because the chips can be turn into xp the players don't advance the same rate which is a PitA, also it unfairly punishes the fighters that use fate chips to stay alive or to avoid being hit. But all-n-all I like them a lot and would love to see Action Points make an appearance in E20.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby JaredGaume » Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:29 pm

Valetutto, you just reminded me of the old Vincent Price movie, Mask of the Red Death. Rough quote from the movie:

"The greatest swordsman in all of Italy fears the worst one."
"Why?"
"Because he is upredictable."

I guess when everyone plays by the rules the experienced guy is going to own everyone else.
But once you lose the rules, **it happens.

If it makes you feel better, as the more experienced guy you have more hit points than a newbie. All their blows are at best glancing, they would have to "win" a couple dozen or more times with action points and critical hits to even make you break a sweat. They are basically flailing around in front of you, you're more likely to die from laughing. You, you take them down with one normal hit, much less a critical one.

I guess there may be a difference in considering what a hit is.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby AvisKarlux » Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:29 pm

Well, the 20 for the automatic critical doesn't represent the whole picture. I believe this has been eluded to, but not flat out stated. Hit points make a big difference in the scheme of things. The level 1 guy can crit the level 20 guy, but the level 1 guy isn't going to take the level 20 guy down. He could in the movies, but not in a role playing game (not in any incarnation I've seen yet, at least).

I hope I can get some ideas up soon. I love this design stuff.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby ronin » Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:36 pm

j0lt wrote:The main alteration is the damage system. I think Vitality and Wounds is the best damage system I've seen to date. If properly combined with other rules (such as massive damage, critical hits, etc...), it becomes a much more realistic damage model than standard Hit Points.


I couldn't agree more with the above statement. I've been running a modern game for about 8 months now and I think it's the best house rule I made. I also made the following house rules-

- if you take damage equal to your CON score you must make a DC 15 Fort save or lose all vitality and take 1 point of wound damage
- you suffer a -1 to all attacks, checks, saves, etc for every 2 points of wound damage you have
- if you suffer wound damage you must make a Fort save of DC 5 + wound damage taken or be stunned for 1d4 rounds
- characters heal their level in vitality an hour
- characters heal 1 point of wound damage each day they rest
- critical hits go directly to wound damage and are not multiplied
- the skill treat injury can be used to heal 1/4 of your vitality once a combat per character.

Looking back now I'd probably drop the stun effect and possibly change the massive damage rule to something similar to SWSE. I didn't have the SWSE when we started the game but I like the -1 penalty for each time you take massive damage. Our goal (I had player buy in on this one) was to make getting shot with a gun deadlier than it was in the modern rules. Basically anytime anyone was shot they COULD go down. We are now at level 10 and I'd say characters have dropped from that rule maybe 7-8 times total but they generally use their action points on these rolls if they have any available.
Last edited by ronin on Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby Jimmy Plamondon » Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:11 pm

I tend to like the vitality/wound system from the old SW edition.

GMsarli, as you have worked on Saga Edition, do you have any insight about why they got rid of that system?
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby JaredGaume » Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:52 pm

Maybe its just a product of who I play with, but there isn't a lot of patience in dealing with lots of ancillary condition tracks. Hit points are a clean rule, you know exactly where you stand, or how close you are to not standing.

From a "realism" standpoint, there should be some way to insta-drop my enemies (minions, 1 hit wonders). And I should want to avoid getting shot (rack up injuries). But I should get some benefit to mitigate injuries if I wear the appropriate level of protection. Most of the hoops that are jumped through to get to that are inellegant at best. My preference is for a few powerful rules that allow me to weigh my choices based on my chances of success or failure, I then take action and roll the dice to see what happens.

This is a game and I want to have fun playing it. One of my criticisms of ladeling on more "realism" is that it breaks fun, and becomes accounting. If I wanted to be an accountant I would do that for a living and get paid for it. When I play a game I am more interested in narrative and rules that support that narrative, not the other way around. I'm in it for the story. Who wants a story about a character that dies on page 1?
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby j0lt » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:03 pm

JaredGaume wrote:[yoda]"Unlearn what you have learned, you must"[/yoda]

Now we need yoda tags! :p

I'm not advocating using starting occupations in the same way as 3.x. For example, someone with a military or law enforcement background is going to have weapon and combat training as a feature of their occupation. A white collar employee might have those things, but its something he or she is going to have to get on their own time and expense. From a game standpoint a combat oriented occupation would get some combat skills/talents up front, where any other character would have to burn their development budget to get those same things. This creates a synergy between occupation and class in certain directions that isn't just a "select skill and make it a class skill with a +1 bonus." With classes being open enough, choice of occupation can be used to further validate certain character choices, or provide unique benefits in terms of occupation skills or talents. Think of an occupation as the back 1/4 to 1/2 of your class at first level.

From a genre feel, I like my Modern character to have a "day job" since adventures realistically are probably the exception rather than the norm. Otherwise every character is going to have to be an adventurer, mercenary, police officer, military man, bounty hunter, or criminal to justify their otherwise antisocial activities. I.e. I make my living as an action hero by beating up "bad guys" and taking their stuff. Although with those occupation choices, that is a valid option, just not the only one.

Actually, that's an interesting idea... Outside of a modern-style game, I suppose it could work as well.

You also mentioned scales; one thing that really bugged me about the newer systems is that everything is measured in squares. While it's great for a minis game, it lowers suspension of disbelief when your Wizard or Jedi asks how many squares away the monster is. Being from Canada, I can work with either metric or imperial measurements, but I think that using them is much more intuitive than an artificial measurement system. Also, I think it would be good for larger creatures to take up a rectangular space, rather than a square one. A horse really shouldn't need a 10x10 foot square. This would, of course, necessitate the reintroduction of facing, but for larger creatures I think it makes sense.

Felix Le Rouzes wrote:In all my D20 games the single consistent houserule has been about hit points gained when leveling. Instead of rolling I give my players 3/4 of their hit die and for those who like to roll, I let them roll, but at worst they get 1/2 their hit die. Its not very elegant, but it worked well enough for me. As such, I'd like to see a less random system for gaining hit points, especially for classes that usually have the bigger hit dices. (d10, d12)

Yeah, my SWSE group uses a similar system where we roll, but the lowest you can get is 1/2 HD. I was thinking about an easier way to do that, for example: a d8 HD creature would instead get d4+4 but like you said, it's not elegant. With some work it might be something worth exploring.

I really don't like 4e's way of giving 1st level HP. It goes against the whole basis of the d20 System. I agree with the idea that 1st level characters need more HP, but I don't think that that's a good way to do it. One thing I was experimenting with for a Saga-based fantasy game was granting regular HD at 1st level, but also adding an additional HD from the creature type (only at 1st level). For example, a Human might get a racial d8, while a Dwarf would get a d10, and an Elf gets d6. At 1st level, an Elf Rogue would get 2d6+Con modifier, while a Dwarf Ranger would get 1d10+1d8+Con modifier. I also think d6 should be the lowest class HD. Add this onto a VP/Wounds system, and you've got some fairly robust characters.

ronin wrote:- if you take damage equal to your CON score you must make a DC 15 Fort save or lose all vitality and take 1 point of wound damage
- you suffer a -1 to all attacks, checks, saves, etc for every 2 points of wound damage you have

I think this is way too much damage. And I never liked the arbitrary DC 15 Fort save as given in the books. I prefer doing away with the Fort save for massive damage, and using this model:
[quote=j0lt]A character’s massive damage threshold is equal to his Constitution score. Whenever he takes damage from a single hit that equals or exceeds his current Constitution score, subtract an amount of damage equal to his Constitution score from his Vitality Points, and the rest of the damage from his Wounds.[/quote]
It's quick, doesn't require any extra rolling, and gives the illusion of serious danger, without being REALLY deadly unless the character is taking upwards of 30 points of damage.

ronin wrote:- you suffer a -1 to all attacks, checks, saves, etc for every 2 points of wound damage you have

This is an interesting variation on the Condition Track mechanic. I'd have to try it out, but it seems simple enough, and the numbers look okay at first glance...
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby j0lt » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:10 pm

JaredGaume wrote:Maybe its just a product of who I play with, but there isn't a lot of patience in dealing with lots of ancillary condition tracks. Hit points are a clean rule, you know exactly where you stand, or how close you are to not standing.

This is a game and I want to have fun playing it. One of my criticisms of ladeling on more "realism" is that it breaks fun, and becomes accounting. If I wanted to be an accountant I would do that for a living and get paid for it. When I play a game I am more interested in narrative and rules that support that narrative, not the other way around. I'm in it for the story. Who wants a story about a character that dies on page 1?


Those are all good points which illustrate some of the problems with the VP/Wounds system as it's written in the books. One fix for that would be to scale Wound points with level. In d20 Modern, I'd say scaling at half-level is just right, but a game like Saga (which, IMO doesn't need VP/Wounds) might require it to scale along with defenses.

My goal in using a modified VP/Wounds system is to create the ILLUSION of deadliness without actually making it any more deadly for the PCs.

Borrowing something from Saga: Second Wind would work. Any time a character is below 1/2 of their total VP, they can use a second wind to regain either their Constitution score or 1/4 of their total VP, whichever is higher. In a game with Action Points, I'd say this should cost an action point. In a game without, I'd limit it to 1/day. However, I'm not a fan of x/day or vancian style mechanics at all. It just feels so arbitrary.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby DTemplar5 » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:44 pm

One of the biggest problems I have with the VP/WP system is lethality. A single critical with a big enough weapon would kill you, regardless of level, because it buypasses the VP and goes streight to wounds. While getting rid of the hitting wounds directly (baring special abilities or certain conditions) might help, you'd may be better off with hit points (which is probably what GMSarli and Rodney decided with HP and Condition Track on SWSE) at that point.

A noticble problem with SWSE is that I don't think the Condition Track helped enough in what it was designed to; that small hits could impare your ability to deal damage. You had the issue where anything that could deal the damage needed to bypass the Damage Threshold would be a threat to your HP, and anything below that was almost ignorable. A lower DT could help on that end, but how would you calculate that?

What other health mechanic could we look into? There's the Toughness saves from Mutants and Mastermind to look into as well.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby GMSarli » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:55 pm

Jimmy Plamondon wrote:I tend to like the vitality/wound system from the old SW edition.

GMsarli, as you have worked on Saga Edition, do you have any insight about why they got rid of that system?


Because it doesn't work as well in practice as it does on paper.

The biggest problem with vitality/wounds is that it creates a pretty good chance of killing even a high-level hero with a lucky shot. Though that's certainly realistic, it's definitely not fun for your high-level hero to be one-shotted on the first round of combat by a 1st-level mook. (That's especially true in a setting like Star Wars, where you can't just go to the local cleric and get a resurrection spell -- if you die, you're gone.)

On its surface, this might not seem that bad -- hey, sometimes you get unlucky, right? Well, my analysis is that you're (literally) dodging a bullet hundreds or thousands of times over your adventuring career, and it's very hard to stay lucky that whole time. Consider someone like a scoundrel or a noble: They're not the heavy hitters, so they're likely to leave their Constitution at a relatively low level -- let's say Con 10, which means 10 Wound Points. If reduced to -10 Wounds, they die ... so, if they take a critical hit that deals 20+ damage, they die immediately. (This is not at all hard with a blaster rifle or heavy blaster pistol, probably some of the most common weapons encountered.)

What are the odds of taking a critical hit on any given attack? Well, if a bad guy has a 50% chance of hitting and -- using a blaster rifle -- threatens on a 19 or 20, then 1 in 20 attacks is a critical hit. At the other extreme, if you're usually facing opponents of much lower level, they might need a natural 20 to hit -- this would give a critical hit on 1 out of 400 attacks (two 20s in a row). On that crit, the odds of getting 20+ damage is 6.84% (35 times out of 512). Therefore, at the most optimistic approach, your non-combat PC has a 0.0171% chance to die instantly on an attack even if they have full vitality points ... and, at worst, the chance increases to 0.3418%.

That doesn't sound like much, right?

Well, that's where the law of large numbers comes in. The likelihood of avoiding that insta-kill is really good on one attack, but it's not so good after a few hundred or thousand attacks. So, let's imagine that a typical non-combat-heavy PC is attacked an average of 3 times in a typical fight. (I'm assuming the soldiers and Jedi shoulder a bigger burden.) That would mean that they'd be attacked an average of 40 times per level (assuming 13.333 encounters per level), or perhaps 800 times over their 20-level career. So, what are the odds of avoiding that horrible fate for that long?

  • Optimistic scenario (0.0171% chance of insta-kill): 87.22% chance to survive
  • Pessimistic scenario (0.3418% chance of insta-kill): 6.46% chance to survive

OK, the optimistic scenario -- assuming that every opponent needs a natural 20 just to hit them -- still has a 12.78% chance to die just from dumb luck. The pessimistic scenario (facing opponents closer to your own level) gives a 93.54% chance to die from a single lucky hit.

We're not including the odds of being reduced to -9 or -8 and then "bleeding out" over the next couple of rounds. We're also not including the odds of running out of vitality and being killed the old-fashioned way. This is just horribly bad luck ending your adventuring career for no good reason.

More importantly, we're not even including the fact that there are multiple PCs dodging bullets here. Tougher characters may have better odds against any one attack, but they are subjected to far more of them -- their odds aren't that much better to avoid an insta-kill over 20 levels. If we hypothesize that the odds of death work out to be about the same due to all those extra attacks (and bigger weapons), what are the odds of a party of four actually surviving all the way to 20th level? Not too good:

  • Optimistic scenario: 57.87% chance for all four to survive
  • Pessimistic scenario: 0.00174% chance for all four to survive

At the other end of the spectrum, the vitality/wounds system made stormtroopers and other mooks entirely too tough. A typical stormtrooper in the Revised Core Rulebook had 12 Wound Points and DR 5 -- and that means that a blaster rifle (3d8 damage) has only a 23.4% chance to drop a stormie in one hit. How many stormtroopers did we see take more than one hit in the movies?

Put those two together, and you've got a deeply flawed system: Heroes are too fragile over the long run, and mooks are too tough in the short run. If you try to fix one (increasing or decreasing wound points), you make the other worse. And these findings were borne out by what I would hear through Jedi Counseling and the message boards -- other people had encountered the same problems.



Given all this, we opted to use hit points, make stormtroopers a little more fragile, and gave heroes the option to spend a Force Point to avoid dying. (They're still in mortal danger, but they're not going to die in the next few rounds.) Remember, hit points are abstract, just like vitality points -- a "hit" isn't necessarily physical contact, just as it was with vitality points. In fact, I think the Saga rules were a bit more realistic than the vitality/wound system: By including the damage threshold, we had a way for a hit to "hurt" without requiring a critical hit, meaning they could come into play without leaving your character incapacitated (or close to it).

For people who want things to be more realistic (read: deadly), I had originally written an optional rule for the combat chapter: If you take damage equal to twice your damage threshold in a single hit, you die ... period. (You'd have to spend a Destiny Point to get out of it.) But that's not the way Star Wars feels for the heroes, so it was never going to be anything other than an option -- and it was all moot, anyway, because during layout there wasn't enough room for another sidebar.
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby GMSarli » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:58 pm

Heh ... by the time I finished typing, other people had made the same points (but with far fewer words). :)
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Re: 1st topic: Share your houserules!

Postby ronin » Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:03 pm

We chose the wounds/vitality system to increase the lethality of firearms in the game. We liked the thought of a singe shot having the possibility of taking down someone. I intentionally left the save at DC 15 for massive damage because I knew with action points most players should make their save and once they got to higher levels they'd shrug it off easily. I do like the idea of the condition track in SWSE but I've never seen it in action. True20 also uses a condition track without hit points if my memory is correct but I haven't played that game either to know how well it works.

I'll have to ask my players next session if they think the added lethality was still a good idea :)
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