Monday, June 11, 2012

House Rules for the Black City Campaign

The Black City marks our return to using the LOTFP rules for the table top game, and the first time breaking out the grindhouse edition with its adjusted XP totals and spell lists.  New campaign, new rules set = chance to re-evaluate our common house rules.

Bind Wounds
Immediately after a combat, characters can perform first aid activities to recover 0-3 hit points (d4-1).

Rationale:  hit points are vague and represent multiple factors - injuries, morale, fatigue.  Giving characters the chance to swig some liquid courage, bandage injuries, catch their breath, etc, lets low level parties stay in the dungeon longer and frees up the cleric from always carrying Cure Light Wounds, especially in LOTFP where Turn Undead takes up a spell slot.  Bind wounds does tend to act a bit like a 'healing surge'.  If a 25% chance of failure is too low, it'd be easy to adjust this rule to 0-2 hit points (d4-2).

New Armor - Ring Mail
Ring mail, AC 15, cost 50sp, encumbers like chain mail.

In a dark ages campaign with little or no access to plate armor, I wanted more variety than just leather and chain, so I slotted ring mail in there as an intermediate (this category would also cover studded leather or scale mail as an alternative).

The Skald - New Specialist Skills
New skills:  ­ Performance (1 in 6), ­ Lore (1 in 6)

If the bard is able to perform for an audience for at least a half hour, he can add his performance skill as a charisma modifier to any reaction or morale roll for the audience members, as long as the roll isn't made more than a day after the performance.

Whenever the bard encounters an item with legendary significance, this skill may be used to try and identify the item and recall a piece of lore or history about it that would exist in song or poem.

These two skills for specialists allow someone to tweak their specialist to cover the role of Skald, the Norse equivalent of the Celtic bard.  Since many of the opponents in the upper ruins of the city are fellow Vikings, the extra reaction roll adjustment from performances would be valuable, along with the boon to retainer morale.  And I've always liked legend and lore as an alternative to the magic user spell Identify for magic items.

Two-Weapon Fighting
A fighting style with an off-hand weapon provides a +1 AC bonus versus one melee opponent only.

This rule is one I'm still considering; in the game, one of the players asked what benefit could they get from dual-wielding.  LOTFP doesn't have an explicit two-weapon fighting rule, which is odd because you figure the fencing styles of Early Modern involved the off-hand quite a bit - dagger or gauche, for instance.

I'm thinking the off-hand weapon provides a +1 to AC like a shield, but only against a single opponent in melee; the shield is still better when fighting multiple opponents, and an off-hand weapon provides no bonus against missile fire. In LOTFP, the shield provides a +2 AC vs missile.  So there's no reason why someone should take two-weapon fighting over a shield, unless it's for encumbrance purposes.  But if style and theme are important, there's at least a small benefit to being a dual-wielder.  You do not get multiple attacks.

Strength Bonus and Damage
The strength damage applies to both to-hit rolls and damage.

Yes - default LOTFP removes the strength bonus for damage and applies it on the to-hit roll only.  You'd think I had peed in the player's drinks when I announced that one.  "Who is this Raggi guy, he needs a smack in the back of the head", grumbled one of the guys.  How many folks out there like a rule where strength doesn't improve weapon damage dealt?  Check out the new poll on the right.

I don't know if Jim has come out and defended the removal of the strength bonus; from the DM's perspective, the world is usually full of monsters that are stronger than people, and they don't frequently get a strength bonus added when they're using weapons.  You can avoid the 'how strong is the monster' debate by having all weapons deal base damage.

I find it nigh impossible to run any rules set straight up without wanting to make a small tweak here or there to better fit my vision for a home game.  This is the smallest package of house rules I've used so far.  Common ones I'm keeping out for now include a fighter cleave rule, a critical hit house rule, clerical 'convert any spell to cure light wounds', and damage by character class.