Encounters

There seem to be as many ways to handle “Encounters” (and actually, even some discrepancies regarding what such a thing entails) as there are Dungeon Masters, and so far I’ve been running it a inconsistently; partly because I’ve been exploring different options together with my players, and partly because I’ve been… well, inconsistent.

Time to formalize things. I’ve been looking at different approaches to surprise, initiative and associated rules and I’ve created this simple 1-page flowchart to show my players. It is heavily influenced by the sequence from d20swsrd found here, and also introduces group initiative and surprise as a slight change to the basic LotFP rules. I love the rules for declaring spells at the onset of combat; it really creates tension around successfully casting them and shows just how important allies and defense is for spellcasters – especially Magic Users.

I also add a couple of rules of my own:

Sitting Duck
I agree that casters should be in serious trouble if they try to cast spells in melee, and the Concentration skill and “combat casting” and all that it added to 3rd edition D&D isn’t really to my tastes. I do think, however, that you should be allowed to try – I don’t like a rule that says “you cant cast spells if engaged in melee”. Instead, I give each opponent that has not yet attacked and which is engaged with a spellcaster a chance to take his/her attack before the spell goes off; just a single point of damage will disrupt the spell. This is in addition to spell declaration at the start of the turn, and I think this opens up a lot of interesting tactical choices – both for caster PCs and when combatting spellcasting enemies.

Better part of Valor
Disengaging can get messy, and I wanted to keep this as simple as possible; let those who have remaining move follow a person who disengages. This is an uncomplicated simulation of the fact that movement in combat is still more or less simultaneous; if you move 60′ per round and your opponent does the same, then you will remain beside each other – to change this, you need allies, clever tactics or to increase your movement speed somehow (such as by running).

You can find a PDF of the flowchart here, or in the Library.

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Guild of Thieves

This time, it’s the rouges’ turn!

Thief

The organization known in my Heartlands setting as “The Fingers” is nevertheless a rather generic take on a Thieves’ Guild which might give the rest of you some good ideas.

It’s tempting to make a guild like this into a supremely powerful criminal organization involved in all sorts of activities and also a power-player in local politics, but I’ve tried to steer clear of that; PC:s who elect to stay out of the guild should have a fighting chance at surviving as independents, or this kind of organization risks stifling the creativity of the players.

Mechanically, I’ve tried to give this guild the same focus as many thief players – money. The possibility to store your wealth (both stolen and dug out of dungeons) away from the prying eyes of the law should appeal to most rogues, and of course the organization will also both supply a service and make an income on dealing in stolen goods.

My rules for the Thieves’ Guild can be downloaded here, or in the Library.

Winter’s Blade

A long time since my last post – I’ve been busy working on a new module for my players, but I should have something juicy for everyone in a while.

I was, however, fidgeting around with some changes to the Tomb of the Iron God before running it for my players a while back and I created some more interesting magical items to replace the more generic +1 swords with. I created this particular sword, and fel very pleased with it.

Winters_BladeThis magnificent greatsword is made from a gleaming and silver-like metal. It is exquisitely crafted and looks very valuable. Someone with knowledge of weapons or blacksmithing would guess it is of elven make. Its name, “Ythaliona”, is inscribed in elven runes along the hilt. This is ancient elven, but if the characters can translate it the name means “winter’s blade”

Winter’s Blade radiates powerful magic, and is indeed a very deadly blade; it deals an additional D4 frost damage per strike to all creatures vulnerable to cold, grants its wielder a +1 bonus to hit and also grants the wielder Resistance to Cold as per the spell when held. Perhaps most impressively, it also deals double damage to dwarves. If the sword is ever used to damage an elf, the wielder suffers 3D8 points of cold damage and must save vs Poison or die immediately.

However, for each battle in which the blade is used (defined as wielding it and using to make at least one attack) the wielder ages one year. If this effect is unknown, the GM should keep track of this aging in secret; there is a cumulative 5 % chance per year aged that the wielder notices the effect, through joint pains and physical signs. The aging is of course less of a drawback for elves, albeit still a heavy price, but it can be absolutely devastating for humans as their physical bodies are ravaged. See the rules for aging in LotFP Rules & Magic p. 34 for the actual effects.

Should it become commonly known that someone is wielding this blade, an elven prince (Lvl 2D6) will appear with his retinue within 1D6 months to claim it as an heirloom. Perhaps the characters will be glad to be rid of it, perhaps they will ask a price, but regardless the prince will press them to hand it over and will gladly do battle with them if they do not do as he says.