I’m running my group through River Into Darkness by Greg A. Vaughan. That requires me to change some stats. I thought I’d give you a quick rundown of what I used until now:
|Enraged Dragonnel||8||15||41||1d6/1d6/1d6||Forget about snatching and all that.|
|Kapoacinth Rogues||6||14||35||1d6/1d6/2d6||I think at the beginning I made some mistakes with the hitpoints.|
|Hippo||3||12||n/a||1d6||Party scared it away, no need to roll for hp.|
|Girallion||7||13||35||1d6/1d6/1d6/1d6/1d6||Roll claw attacks in pairs. If both hit: Extra 2d6 damage.|
|Crocodile||2||13||n/a||1d6||Our paladin (aka. cleric) killed it with a crit before I could roll for hitpoints.|
|Pygmy Keche||5||16||n/a||1d6/1d6/1d6||Roll both claw attacks together. If both hit: Extra 1d6 damage. I rolled hp on the fly.|
|Mamba||1||10||1||1||+8 attack vs STR defense for 1d6/1d6 STR damage|
|Faruq as a zombie||4||13||15||1d6||Improvised some attacks for the yellow musk creeper.|
|Lizardmen||2||19||3||1d6/1d6||+5 to hit because of bless and superior position; AC is high because of the shield.|
|Lizardman Shaman||3||17||10||1d6/1d6||Casts bless, burning hands, and sleep.|
|Shambling Mount||8||20||32||2d6/2d6||Immune to fire & electricity.|
|Elven Warriors||2||11||7||1d6||The party killed about 15 of them before they fled.|
|Esteban||6||10||32||1d6+2||+8 to hit because of fighter levels.|
I really liked “converting” the monsters:
|Alex (me)||M20||M20||Dislikes lots of rules|
|Marcel||D&D||–||Likes tactical combat|
|Moni||D&D||D&D||Likes character creation but dislikes the looking up of rules at the table|
|Marco||D&D||D&D||Likes character differentiation on a mechanical level|
|Dani||either||–||Likes how M20 allows you to play more because there are no rules to look up|
|Zeno||?||–||Dislikes lots of rules|
|Claudia||–||M20||Dislikes character creation and dislikes lots of rules|
|James||D&D||–||Sceptical about M20|
|Florian||–||?||Appears to like rules|
|Thiago||–||?||Doesn’t show up often enough to make a difference|
(Yeah, I think that those players that didn’t speak out yet like M20 because haven’t complained yet. But I want to make sure. )
It reminds me of Robin’s The evolution of D&D – where he says:
3e D&D: Designed to be fun for the player (but a planning and preparation headache for the GM)
In our last M20 Hard Core session – the second session of River Into Darkness by Greg A. Vaughan – I got the feedback from the level 4 wizard player Marco that he wasn’t enjoying the rule that spellcasting costs hitpoints.
Emotionally, there is not much we can do. He’s unhappy, and the rules are there to allow us all to have some fun. I guess one possible reaction would be to tell Marco that maybe the M20 wizards are not for him.
In terms of balance, I felt that the wizard was just right. He didn’t overshadow anybody using spells and yet the wizard didn’t suck because there was always things to do. Consider that Moni’s fighter spent four rounds below the ship destroying the trap – doing nothing at all, if you want.
In terms of comparison with a D&D 3.5 wizard I also felt that we weren’t doing too badly. Let’s assume a level 4 wizard in D&D 3.5 has 12 hitpoints and knows three 2nd level spells and five 1st level spells (add one each due to an ability bonus).
An M20 HC wizard would have around 24 hitpoints, and if he were to cast his favorite spells, he’d spend 12+10 hitpoints to cast three 2nd level spells and five 1st level spells.
Yes, in this situation the M20 HC wizard is living very dangerously with only two hitpoints left and no way to heal.
Then again, after 30 minutes the M20 HC wizard will be back with his full array of spells. There’s no rationale to demand a 15 minute adventuring day! This, I feel, is a great benefit.
At the same time, a wizard can decide to cast three 2nd level spells and leave it at that. He’ll have 12 hitpoints left just like his D&D 3.5 friend, and he’ll still be able join the next fight.
Plus a M20 HC wizard has the same attack progression as everybody else. Using a crossbow or a sling will continue to make sense later in the game.
When I compare it to my current level 3 dwarven wizard Gar I find that I need to play my D&D 3.5 wizard even more economically. I won’t be using my spells for most encounters, and I’ll use maybe ten charges from a wand per day – most of it being mage armor and burning hands. Personally I didn’t feel like the M20 HC wizard was significantly weaker than the D&D 3.5 wizard.
All of these arguments won’t really solve the problem for Marco. So here are some options.
I need to think about this some more. Right now I don’t feel like changing the rules because the result feels about right. But unfortunately the result just feels right to me.
“What if I want to be a thief?” he asked. “Steal something” I said.
I also commented and said that thieving is a mini-game that involves only the DM and the thief player. It makes the game less interesting for others. I’m not talking about the mechanics of hiding, sniping, and sneak attack. I’m mostly referring to trap detecting and disarming, scouting, and successful skill rolls turning into automatic bottlenecks for adventures. What happens if you botch these all-or-nothing rolls? Was failure inconsequential?
That’s why I keep warning my players whenever we talk about character creation: I don’t like thieves.
James also says “I’d love to see someone come up with a new take on the Thief that addresses these concerns.”
Here’s how I’m trying to address it in M20 Hard Core:
In a recent game the party was fighting on a ship (River of Darkness by Greg A. Vaughan) in the middle of the night. Anybody could swing up to the upper deck and jump down on foes. This should work only if they are wearing light armor or no armor at all.
It’s up to the DM to grant benefits to characters wearing light armor.
|1||Pepe’s Scary Clown||Scary clown frightens a creature.||A big, scary image of a clown appears. It is the stuff of children’s nightmares; it has sharp claws, long yellow teeth, and blood-red smeary make-up.|
If affected, the target creature is frightened for 1d4 rounds. If not affected they are shaken for 1 round.
Creatures with at least 6HD are not scared of clowns, and are unaffected.
|Has more or less the same affect as 1st level Cause Fear|
|2||Pepe’s Piano||Falling grand piano deals 1d6/level damage (max 10d6) to 5 ft radius.||A grand piano falls falls from a height of 10ft/caster level (max 100ft) and lands on the target area, dealing 1d6/level damage (max 10d6) to all creatures in a 5-ft radius.||If a ceiling is present the piano will materialise at highest possible point, dealing 1d6 points damage per 10 feet it falls.|
Does same damage as 3rd level Fireball, except it has smaller range and cannot be effectively used indoors.
|2||Pepe’s Imolation||1 creature/4 levels above 3rd take 1d6 fire damage/round for 4 rounds.||Target creature bursts into flame, taking 1d6 points of damage per round for 4 rounds. Target may spend one full round putting themselves out to extinguish the flames. One additional creature for every four levels beyond 3rd (to a maximum of three creatures at 11th level) are affected.||Does the same damage as 2nd level Scorching Ray. Creature can extinguish themselves, but deals continual damage (so good against mages).|
|2||Pepe’s Squeaky Hammer||Colourful squeaky hammer attacks opponents.||A large, colourful squeaky-hammer appears and attacks opponents at a distance, as you direct it, dealing 1d4 bludgeoning damage per hit +1 point per three caster levels (maximum +5 at 15th level), plus an additional 1d4 sonic damage from the loud ‘sqeak’.|
It always attacks the target you want it to attack, switching at will.
|Does same damage as 2nd level Spiritual Weapon.|
Average damage is slightly higher and deals multiple types of damage, but less effective as force damage (which also affects incorporeal creatures etc).
Switching opponents is a free action because there are no move actions in M20.
|3||Pepe’s Human Cannonball||Conjures a human-cannon.||A large, brightly painted cannon is conjured into existance.|
The cannon is large enough for 1 medium creature to fit inside.
A string at the back of the cannon fires the cannon, ejecting whatever/whoever is inside the cannon at high velocity to any 5-ft square within 100ft + 10ft/level, or to a height of half the distance. This string can be pulled either by the person in the cannon, or by a ‘helper’ who is aiming the cannon. A colourful safety helmet comes with the cannon, which protects the ‘human cannonball’ from physical harm during landing, although they are shaken for 1 round afterwards. (The helmet does not protect from additional damage, such as being fired from a cliff, or being shot into a haymaker).
If an helper is operating the cannon, the cannon may be aimed and fired at any creature within range, dealing 1d6 damage per caster level (max 10d6).
The cannon remains for 1 round/level, or until it is fired.
|Similar to 4th level Dimension Door, except only one person can be transported, range is limited, and line of sight is required. Extra damage-causing effect possible (requires someone to operate, aim and fire the cannon).|
|4||Pepe’s Tar & Feathers||Creature takes 2d8 fire damage +1/caster level (max 10), and receives -4 to attacks, skills, checks, and saves.||From one hand a jet of hot tar bursts from the caster’s pointed finger, covering one creature with hot, sticky, tar. The hot tar deals 2d8 heat damage + 1/caster level (max 10).|
Using the other hand, the caster throws a handful of feathers toward the creature. A huge gust of fluffy white feathers materialise and strike the target, covering him from head to toe. The target creature looks so rediculous he takes a -4 morale penalty to attacks, skills, checks, and saves.
Pepe’s Tar and Feathers are extremely sticky, requiring a hot bath and lots of scrubbing to clean all of the tar off. The demoralization affect lasts until it has been scrubbed off.
|Functions similar to 4th level Bestow Curse, however only one curse may be chosen and it is not permenant. This spell deals a small amount of additional damage.|
We had a talk about the impeding end of our Kurobano And The Dragons campaign. We started with the Kitsunemori setting and M20 rules, switched to D&D 3.5, played through the Tomb of the Forgotten King, Red Hand of Doom, Guardians of Dragonfall, and lots of little homebrew encounters. And we’re ready for a change. I’m ready for a change.
So I talked about M20 Hard Core, on how I hoped to change our game style because individually we all agreed on mistakes we made: Too much shouting, rules, magic items, spell lists, and buffs at the table, lots of arguing – just to name a few. I’m hoping that the new rules are familiar enough for us to just keep on playing but different enough to kick us out of our rut. That’s what I’m hoping for!
And today we decided on the adventures I want to run for our M20 HC playtest:
But first, the M20 Hard Core playtest using the two GameMastery modules.
I’m looking forward to it.
I think I need to prepare a little list of in-game replacements for prestige classes and feats – background choices that will have in-game effects.
We also talked about character creation. I thought about the following:
I liked #2. One player liked #1. The others seemed to favor point buy. Oh well. I’ll have to think of a good point buy method.
I gave the monster list I have to one of the players who was interested in the numbers. I already talked about some of the rules with another player interested in them. I’m happy to see that things finally get going.