2008-08-07 Hard Core M20

I’m reaching equilibrium with my M20 Hard Core Rules. You only need the first two pages to play. Page 3 has notes on spells, and page 4 has the OGL. Source is available. [1]

So, what have I changed from the original M20 by GreyWulf?

Based on M74 by Randall S. Stukey who based his game on OD&D from 1974, I’ve made the following changes:

I’ve also made some changes:

I think I still have to add small notes to spells regarding duration. I’m not sure how much info to add, here. Generally I’d prefer to keep it vague (while concentrating, short, daily, or permanent). The same is true for distances. Just fudge it! We’ll see. Basically “while concentrating” means that you can’t cast any other spells or fight, everything else goes on for a while and allows you to cast more spells (eg. Spider Climb or Light), and then there’s the interesting stuff: Permanent effects! :)

For a while I toyed with the following: “Clerics can wear any armor. Clerics may not use magic weapons.” (Replacing the restriction of only being able to use blunt weapons.) In a way intelligent magic swords were the most awesome weapons, and thus forbidden to clerics. This would have replaced the old arbitrary restriction with a new arbitrary restriction, which is why I don’t feel good about it. Introducing a different base attack progression for clerics and wizards would have been the alternative. I’m not sure I would have liked that. That’s why I stuck with the armor restriction, even though I’m not sure I like it. I guess the in-game answer is “training”. :

I’m still looking for a way to prevent relying on high stat bonuses. I can already hear people complaining that they cannot be a fighter because their STR is less than 15.

Other things on my mind: Add surprise rules (surprised on 1-2 on a d6), add encumbrance rules (my favorite would be something like a carrying capacity of 12 items).

Well, all I’m lacking is a group to playtest these rules! :D



Looks good to me! :)

greywulf 2008-08-07 15:24 UTC

Good stuff - the only thing I’m unsure about is the recovery time for all hit points being minutes (seems so short!) - but I’ll give it a shot.

– Sean 2008-08-14 05:17 UTC

The reason I added this was that in my games, the first thing players do after combat is heal up to their maximum. It just seems so pointless. “Who needs another healing?” – “Have some goodberries.” – “I’m still missing 24 hitpoints.” If they don’t have the means to heal up, they’ll stop for the day. Also note that hit points spent to cast spells remain lost until rested for 8h.

AlexSchroeder 2008-08-14 06:29 UTC

Sound reasoning there Alex - the ’stop for ages to heal up’ thing can be a bit much if the players always do that (unless you get round it by having them in a race against time, or a pursuit. So it makes the lesser healing spells more a thing for healing STR and also allows low HP characters not to feel too stunted from the start. I really like the combat rules - fighters feel special, but clerics and wizards don’t feel too limited either. It’s a good balance, and I like how choosing races allows a little tweaking - rolled up a DEX 18 character, made him a halfling fighter, equipped him and then grinned as I worked out the AC.

– Sean 2008-08-14 11:50 UTC

Hehehe. Think Yoda! :)

AlexSchroeder 2008-08-14 13:10 UTC

Think I may add a rule for wielding 2 weapons - maybe adding DEX bonus. So the options are there for greater chance to hit(2 weapons), better defence(weapon and shield) or more damage(two-handed weapon).

– Sean 2008-08-16 11:28 UTC

Yeah, the original M20 rules have that: “Fighters and Rogues can use DEX bonus + Level as Melee attack bonus instead if wielding a light weapon. Fighters and Rogues can wield 2 light weapons and attack with both in a round if they take a -2 penalty on all attack rolls that round. Rapiers count as light weapons, but you cannot wield two rapiers at the same time.”

Part of my intent was to make abilities less important. The old rules allowed a double bonus. If you’re strong, get a bonus to hit and to damage (specially with a two-handed weapon). If you’re dextrous, get a bonus to hit (with a light weapon), and a bonus to AC. My hard core rules grant melee fighters less bonuses: Strength will only add to damage, and Dexterity will only add to AC.

If people want to play the fencing archtype, I tell them to focus on dexterity for AC and gain some levels in order to improve their attack bonus. This is important to me: A high stat bonus should not be the equivalent of having gained some levels. Gaining levels must remain very important. Spell levels being tied to character level makes gaining levels very important for spell casters anyway, but fighters could get away with having high ability bonuses instead. My hard core rules try to limit that.

AlexSchroeder 2008-08-16 12:10 UTC

I rolled up a few characters to test it out and the DEX bonus did make a huge difference - a bit too powerful for a Level 1 character. My gaming group are giving the hard core rules a go tomorrow.

– Sean 2008-08-16 18:38 UTC

I rolled up three fourth level characters the other day and sent them against a red dragon.

First one: STR 13, DEX 12, MIND 17. I decided to make him an elven wizard, add +1 to MIND at fourth level, resulting in MIND 20 and a magic attack bonus of +9. He’ll be using acid arrow doing 2d4 for two rounds a lot. I called him Fnord. Rolling 13 on 4d6 this resulted in 26 HP. No armor results in AC 11.

Second one: STR 8, DEX 8, MIND 9. I decided to make him a dwarven fighter, add +1 to MIND, resulting in STR 10, DEX 8, and MIND 10. Rolling 13 on 4d6 this resulted in 23 HP. I called him Bliss. He has +4 to hit and does 1d6 damage. With no STR bonus and bad DEX, this guy needs armor. I give him platemail and a shield resulting in AC 16.

Third one: STR 9, DEX 11, MIND 11. This will be the human cleric, adding +1 to every stat, resulting in STR 10, DEX 12, and MIND 12. I roll badly for hitpoints (9) resulting in 19 HP. With plate, shield, and a DEX bonus his AC is 18. I called him Rübe (”nob”).

We roll initiative, adding the DEX bonus (no DEX bonus for the dragon because monsters don’t have stats). This made me realize that I haven’t found a good rule for monster stats. It seems to me that monsters should not have any stats, and no bonus to damage. Melee fighting monsters don’t use a STR stat for more damage, they use additional attacks. The current monster list doesn’t reflect that, yet. Thus:

How to create a monster: Assign level, pick dice type (d4 for small critters like kobolds, d6 for humanoids, d8 for beasts), roll for hitpoints; attack bonus = level, damage = weapon equivalent (1d4 for small critters like kobolds, 1d6 for humanoids, 1d8 for beasts, use multiple dice for big and strong foes), pick AC as appropriate; pick special abilities as the level increases.

Anyway, back to the game. We roll initiative. All party members beat the dragon and go first.

First round: Rübe rolls a 1, Bliss rolls a 3, Fnord casts an acid arrow, rolls 11, adds 9, and hits. The dragon’s magic defense is 10 + level = 20. This does 6 damage. The dragon has 10d8 = 36 and is down to 30 HP.

Then the dragon breathes some hellfire! Magic defense is 10 + level + DEX bonus: Fnord 15, Bliss 13, Rübe 15. The dragon rolls 4 + 10 = 14 and only Bliss takes full damage. 10d6 = 41, half is 20. Bliss is at 26 - 41 and dies horribly. Rübe is at 19 - 20 and drops screaming and is bleeding to death. Fnord is at 26 - 20 = 6 and still standing.

Second round: The dragon takes another 5 damage from the acid arrow and is down to 25 HP. Rübe casts another acid arrow and rolls 5 + 9 = 14 which is not enough. A miss!

The dragon now enters melee and hits three times for 22 damage. This is enough to bring Fnord into the negatives.

The dragon then treats the wounds of the two survivors, strips them, and chains their naked bodies to the cave walls. Two more prisoners! Om nom nom nom...

AlexSchroeder 2008-08-16 23:43 UTC

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