View Full Version : Golden Esque's Myriad of Homebrew - Notes and Things

2010-09-07, 05:27 PM
Hello, my fellow homebrewers! It's been a few months since I contributed anything worthwhile to the homebrew forum, and hell, depending on whom you are you might not find this to be any bit of a contribution. Anyway, let me give a little bit of a frame of reference as to where I am coming with my next few contributions.

If anyone can remember way back to April, in addition to working in ErrantX's Prestige Class contests, I was working on an Avatar: The Last Airbender project on the side. I had gotten through the Waterbender and about two-thirds of the Earthbender when College Finals hit, and I had to slink off of the forums after posting the Seropaenes Avenger / Executioner prestige classes with Xallace. During this time, I kept brainstorming as to what I wanted to do with the Firebender, the next Avatar class I planned on releasing to the mercy of the forums. As I threw around ideas, though, certain ... highlights of the Dungeons and Dragons experience kept flaring up to me as not working well or being a tad bit awkward. After finals, I solemnly swore that I was going to rework my own set of rules based on my own opinions and taste. This is where I have vanished to for the better parts of May, June, July, and August. Even now, I'm not entirely done with everything I want to propose to you, the GitPers, but I feel like I'm far enough along that I can post some of my ideas and such up for critique from the Playground; after all, that's what I love about these forums. Timely feedback (usually :P).

In this first post, I'm not going to be releasing many of my changes or homewbrews; mostly design goals and intentions. I'd like to start with saying that the rules I have decided to use take a pinch of Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 and mix it up with Pazio's Pathfinder system. It feels kind weird for me to be praising the system, especially when I distinctly remember getting into a debate with Jane Smith about it back in the day when it was still in Beta, but hey! I guess playing something is better then talking about it to a degree, eh? I really like how they handle many things in Pathfinder, from major things like the Combat Maneuver system to minor things like how Save-or-Suck spells have mostly been altered to be less save-or-suck-y.

My major intention is for the rules to be very DM and Player friendly. I'm not looking for oodles of oodles of overly complicated rules; in a perfect world I'd like to be able to teach anyone how to play D&D. I've been trying to accomplish this by making rules as clear and concise as possible. Many of the changes I've made are also to accomplish this goal. Second, while I'm not OCD when it comes to balance, I want all my classes to feel interesting to play. My opinion is that in 3.5, Fighters and Monks in particular were very boring to play, and the other martial classes' own personal options were rather limited in 3.5. To me, it felt like you were either ridiculous at one thing and terrible at everything, or sub-par all around if you were a melee combatant. A lot of my class changes try to address this and give options to every play. "I make a full attack," while beneficial, gets old quickly for the Fighter. Third, while I'm not also a stickler for realism, I also want things to make sense in their own way. There are a couple things in this particular post that go along those lines. So basically, my design intent looks like this:

Reasonably Easy to Understand
Reasonably Easy to Learn
Interesting to Play

With that out of the way, let's head to some actual homebrew!

Weapon, Armor, and Shield Proficiencies
I absolutely, positively, without a doubt HATE the 3.5 / Pathfinder implementation of Weapon and Armor Proficiency. It never made sense to me how a Barbarian, who has limited contact with the world and has probably never even seen a suit of Full-Plate in his life can ever hope to actually know how to use it effortlessly! In actuality, Barbarians are mostly why I dislike the Weapon and Armor Proficiency system; a lot of it just simply feels weird in 3.5. On top of that, unless you know it at the start, you have to give up an all-important Feat slot to learn ONE weapon or armor proficiency if you're a Wizard or Sorcerer or whatever! How silly is that?

So, here's my system. You have seven feats that belong to their own category, called Proficiency Feats (that's another thing you'll notice I do a lot; make more categories for feats). The feats are as follows:

Simple Weapon Proficiency, Martial Weapon Proficiency, Exotic Weapon Proficiency, Light Armor Proficiency, Medium Armor Proficiency, Heavy Armor Proficiency, and Shield Proficiency.

Most classes get at least one of these feats for free, but some don't. For example, Wizards do not get any Proficiency Feats as bonus feats. However, just because you have the feat doesn't mean you know the skill! At 1st level, a character gains a number of additional skill points equal to X + their Intelligence modifier, where X differs from class to class. These additional skill points can only be used to purchase specific proficiencies with a specific weapon or armor type and they are spent at a 1 to 1 conversion. As an example, you could purchase Shortsword or Chain Mail with your points. Weapons and Armor don't rely on any other to buy them; the fact is that if you can buy Heavy Armor (meaning you have Light, Medium, and Heavy Armor Proficiency feats), you already have the knowledge required to use Medium and Light armor. The rules are fluffed in saying that even though you know the basics, you aren't accustomed to foreign armor types enough to use them without being impeded or impeding yourself. For example, if a Fighter is wearing Full-Plate and decides to don some Studded Leather without the appropriate proficiency. Perhaps he puts too much strength into his weapon swings, expecting the resistance of the metal armor when that resistance isn't there, causing him to miss completely.

After 1st level, you don't get any more "bonus skill points," its a one-and-done deal for 1st level only, representing a childhood and possibly young adulthood of training or experimenting with equipment. From 2nd level onward, you can purchase proficiency with a weapon or a specific type of armor (Chain Shirt, Full-Plate, Leather, etc) at the cost of 1 Skill Point for 1 Proficiency. On top of Skill Tricks (which are also implemented in my campaign setting; see Complete Scoundrel), this means you can use your Skill Points to buy Skill Ranks, Skill Tricks, or Proficiencies, giving even the Fighter and Barbarian something to look forward to with these occasionally under appreciated goodies.

Weapon Family Groups
Weapon Focus was another feat I didn't particularly like, and I actually developed this system entirely for that feat, but it ended up working nicely with certain other feats, as well as some prestige classes. The idea behind Weapon Families is that all weapons fall into one of several very noticable family groups. The groups are:

Fist Weapon
Flexible Weapon
Thrown Weapon

I toyed around with the idea of giving each family its own special rules, but in the long run, those rules becoming obvious in and of themselves. For example, swords tend to do less damage then axes, but when compared to maces, they have a better critical strike chance. As a drawback, DR/bludgeoning is much more common than DR/slashing.

I'm sure some of you looked at the list and said "FIREARMS? THAT MEANS GUNS?! NO GUNS, NO!!" From my perspective, guns are merely crossbows that take a little more time to load, but have a better damage roll. I set my campaign settings in a Renaissance-era of technology, and most new players I've seen always ask me "Can I have a gun?" so as part of my efforts to make the game more enjoyable, I tried my best to steam line them. I'd be more than happy to share my weapon list (there are some fun ones *looks at Dragon Hand Cannon and snickers*), but that is for another day!

Back to Weapon Families, this is a change you're not really going to notice. It only affects specific feats and specific prestige classes. The biggest thing it affects is Weapon Focus; Weapon Specialization still requires a specific weapon for example. You also still have your Light / One-Handed / Two-Handed / Ranged categories as well. On top of that, most weapons have some type of special rule for associated with them. I'll share them all another day, but I'll post a few really quick:

Donderbus, Dragon, Shotgun
Ranged Firearm [Simple]
This weapon possesses a particularly short, wide caliber barrel that is relatively easy to manage; assuming one can handle its wicked knockback.

A blunderbussís violate nature requires you to take exceptional care while loading it; loading a blunderbuss is a full-round action that requires two hands and provokes attacks of opportunity. A blunderbuss is fired with two hands. You can fire a blunderbuss with one hand, but you have a 20% chance to be knocked prone after the blunderbussís attack is resolved.

If you are using a ranged weapon in each hand, you take penalties to your ranged attack rolls as if you were two-weapon fighting; a blunderbuss counts as a one-handed weapon for the purposes of this penalty.

War Quoit
Ranged Thrown Weapon [Exotic]
This weapon consists of several steel hoops welded together. They are occasionally laid with intricate designs, but lack any type of ornate spikes or blades.

Throwing a chakram requires one hand. A chakramís aerodynamic design allows it to ignore 50% of all mundane wind effects at work against it; for example, a chakram only gains half the benefit and suffers half of the penalties the wind places on ranged weapons.

If you are using a ranged weapon in each hand, you take penalties to your ranged attack rolls as if you were two-weapon fighting; a chakram counts as a light one-handed weapon for the purposes of this penalty.

Here's the format for these weapons:
Primary Name
Additional Names for the Weapon
Weapon's Heaviness Weapon Family [Difficulty]
Fluff / Description

Special Rules.

Saving Throws and Class Ability Checks
I don't like 4th Edition. It feels too much like an MMO for my tastes. However, there was one idea from 4th Edition that I did like. In 4th Edition D&D, the concepts of Saving Throws as a static number is introduced, and its one that makes sense to me. For a new player, it makes a lot more sense for all offense to be roll-based and all defense to be static then to have offense and saving throws be roll-based; its kind of a messy experience from my own observations of newer players, and its a LOT less confusing when you say "You roll for anything offensive you do, and your defenses are static numbers that only change if you take special penalties." That's my understanding anyway, and this system is one I adopted for my newer players. It really doesn't affect veteran players much.

Disintegrate, for example has a DC equal to (10 + 6 + your spellcasting ability modifier) and your Fortitude save is equal to (1d20 + your Fortitude bonus + your Constitution modifier). Under this system, the 10 and the 1d20 are reversed, so it looks like this:

Fortitude = 10 + Fort + Con
Disintegrate = 1d20 + 6 + your spellcasting ability modifier

It ends up being the exact same thing in terms of chance to succeed and fail, except that a player's offense seems more in their control, though it does take control away from their defense. However, defenses appear MUCH more reliable now, and bad rolls don't influence defense much. A lot of people would agree with me when I say that it feels more acceptable to die to a good enemy roll then a bad player roll, especially if the player is you :).

So, what do we call the roll for a Disintegrate spell, you ask? Well, not to worry! I call it a spell check. Original, right? You roll for a Psionic Power? Guess what, its called a Power check now. Roll for a Vestige's special ability? You just made a vestigial check (awesome phrase coined by Xallace). Bender technique? Bending check. Poison roll? Poison check. Spell-Like ability? spell check. You're on fire? Ignition check. The possibilities are ENDLESS! However, as a collective, I call them Class Ability checks for anything gained by a level in a class (including spells and what not) or Racial Ability checks for anything gained through just being you.

Well, that's the end of this first installment. I'd love to include more, but I'm heading off to class now. I hope you enjoyed this little collection of ideas, and I hope it either inspires you to give them a try or to leave some feedback. Criticisms are loved and appreciated; just please make sure you stop by and check around, because I WILL respond to you. Eventually :).

~ Golden-Esque