View Full Version : [Doomhat’s Chewy D&D Mechanics]: Introduction and some General Feats

2012-05-22, 02:44 AM
-Doomhat's Chewy Introduction-

This is the first in a series of related Threads.

The reason I'm doing this is that I think there should be as little dividing wall between Fluff and Crunch as humanly possible.
When ‘Fluff’ has no real effect on Crunch, it’s utterly meaningless. (I hate that)
When ‘Crunch’ fails to serve, live up to, or even have Fluff, that’s recreational math. (Terrible!)
I want to play some D&D 3rd/Pathfinder, but I want more ‘Chewy’ mechanics. I want Fluff and Crunch that flow together until one is nearly indistinguishable from the other.

-I’d like you to help me come up with some. Here are the ground rules;

It’s not about what the player CAN do, it’s about what they Will do.
Strange abilities and tasty skill bonuses are not an End but a Means of rewarding players for interesting Roleplay. In other words, it’s not about just throwing fireballs. It’s about hating someone or thing so much that you’re willing to wad a reeking lump of sulfur and bat poop between your palms in order to make them explode.

Write Good rules for Good Players.
I don’t care what Twinky McPowergame might do with these rules, he’s not even invited. If anything these rules might help ease them into the concept of Roleplaying in the first place. RPG’s are a social game driven by collaboration and imagination, making the spirit of a rule clear is all that matters. We fear no lawyers here.

A Plug-in, not a Patch.
We’re not trying to ‘fix’ the game, or reinvent the wheel. Part of the fun of this project is to make D&D a more narrative focused game without removing a single word from the Player’s Guide.

Links to related Threads
[Doomhat’s Chewy D&D Mechanics]:Making Failure Fun (skill checks) (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=12875387#post12875387)

Some General Feats

Hopefully these will help demonstrate what I'm trying to pull. You may notice that most contain extremely Flavor heavy prerequisites and or open the door to possible quests as with some Prestige Classes.
Some of these feats have the option of being lost. Should you lose access to a feat in this way you may always replace the empty feat slot with something new through in-game training/questing.
If it turns out there's support for this out there I'll start working on stuff for specific character Classes.

Prerequisite: Your highest priority is your own wellbeing. You are must choose to gain the Shaken condition for the remained of any encounter in which you take damage, so long as what caused the injury remains a threat to you. You must also choose to automatically fail all Will Saves against Fear effects. If you don’t let your fears master you in this way, this Feat is Lost.

Benefit: You gain a +4 moral bonus to all Stealth checks, as well as Perception checks for noticing ambushes, Escape Artist checks to break free of a grapple, Diplomacy and Bluff checks when pleading for mercy, and attack rolls against a victim that is either prone or doesn’t know where you are.

Prerequisite: This feat can be lost. You may not also possess the Coward feat. You must have a Chaotic alignment and you must never refuse a dare or challenge (with the exception of anything that would violate you conscience if you’re Good).

Benefit: All fear effects have an opposite effect on you.
Shaken provides a +2 bonus rather than a -2 penalty,
Frightened causes you to doggedly peruse and assault the source of the fear effect until subdued,
Panicked causes you to Rage (as the spell and 1st level barbarian ability) instead.
When ‘Cowering’ you must instead take use any all available actions and gain a +2 bonus to AC rather than the normal -2 penalty.

An ally may use their Intimidation skill on an enemy’s behalf to ‘talk up’ their threat to you.

[Note: Just making the player Immune to Fear effects would probably more ‘balanced’, but it would also be boring. We are not here to do boring.]

-Enlightened Madness-
Prerequisite: The character must have been exposed to an extreme physiological trauma, chemical overdose, or head injury.

Benefit: Whenever the Confused condition is applied to you, the following exceptions apply.

When you would normally be forced to, “Do nothing but babble incoherently”, you may instead act ‘normally’ and gain a +4 moral bonus to all rolls for that round so long as you are babbling incoherently. [Note: the Player must act out said babbling in order to qualify; silly walks and inexplicable gestures may also apply]

When you would normally be forced to, “Deal 1d8 points of damage + Str modifier to self with item in hand.”, you may instead choose to throw the item in hand to a random direction, attempt to sunder it on the nearest hard surface, attempt to hide it, or attempt to eat it.

When you would normally be forced to, “Attack nearest creature”, you may choose to instead do something disquieting or bizarre to the nearest creature.
Possible examples may include; unsolicited hugs (often while laughing and or weeping), vociferous accusations of improbable crimes (intimidation check), using creature as an impromptu art canvas, fleeing from creature at top speed.

Prerequisite: Non-good alignment. There are very few things in the world you have patience for, let alone love.

Benefit: You gain a +2 moral bonus when any action follows or includes an act of extraordinary disrespect or contempt.

Examples may include; a Performance check for singing a song with lyrics that viciously slander someone, an attack roll made after a swift action was used to spit on the target, sundering something of sentimental value to someone who’s there to see it.

Prerequisite: You must never intentionally inflict lethal damage on or otherwise take any action that would threaten the life of another sentient creature. You may have done so before acquiring this Feat, but doing so afterward will cause you to lose it.

Benefit: You gain a +3 moral bonus to any action intended to diffuse or halt a violent situation. This includes attack rolls and combat maneuvers against foes you intend to subdue without harm

[Note: If any ally attempts to kill an opponent you have subdued in this way you must protect them from your ‘ally’ with your life or instantly lose this feat and if applicable your Good alignment as well.].

Prerequisite: Your bodyweight must be at least 20lbs above the default determined by the ‘Random Height and Weight Table’ at character creation. The easiest way to achieve this is through nutritional intake. Some schools of grappling that exploit this Feat have developed a number of cooking recipes to aid in this, as it is not as easy to maintain as you might think.
Adventuring burns a whole lot of calories, so expect your waistline to expand and contract over the course of your career along with the feast and famine. Investing some skill points in Craft: Cooking, or befriend someone who has, would be a wise.

Also, be warned, high bodyweight is often associated with indolence, so you suffer a -2 penalty to Intimidate checks against fools (any sentient creatures with a wisdom score of 10 or lower). There may also be some practical concerns regarding moving through tight spaces.

[Note: Though part of you, this added body weight counts against your Encumbrance, so it’s recommended that you have a high Strength score]

Benefit: Add +1 to your CMD for every 10lbs you are above your default weight (To a maximum of +10). Additionally you gain DR 2/non-Impact for every 30lbs (To a maximum of DR 6/non-Impact) .

Benefit: Whenever you fumble a roll, gain 1 luck point.
You may spend a luck point to (out of character and with DM’s approval) make some manner of happy coincidence of your choosing to occur in-game, especially if it might cause some trouble later on down the line, seem extremely plausible given the current circumstance, or at the very least greatly amuses all the other players.

Examples may include: The city guard is too busy containing an even bigger mess on the other side of town to worry about you right now. You remember seeing some moss a little ways back that could help cure this illness though there might be side effects. You discover a secret door back there for the party hide in but what sinister purpose was it there to serve?

2012-05-22, 05:31 AM
Brilliant coward/daredevil mix, I really like changing how the conditions effect you.

2012-05-22, 10:00 AM
I really like these. They seem like [Archetype] feats to me, which can be a lot of fun.

2012-05-22, 10:17 AM
Firstly, I'd use some formatting OTHER than spoilers. Quoting a post doesn't quote spoilers in the post, which makes it harder to reply and comment simultaneously, as I have to keep flipping back and forth. Just a suggestion though. Anyway, on to the actual stuff...

...actually, that's a lie. I just have to say this: You're a man (woman?) after my heart. Your design philosophy is something I've been striving to accomplish for ages in all my Prestige Classes and associated work, and what I'm now trying to build into all the half-finished systems I have lying around (those that aren't largely free-form). I've loved reading this thread, which is why you're getting so much critique from me on this work. I'm critiquing because I love the idea behind what I just read...this doesn't mean that there aren't problems with it, but I'm commenting because I want to see this succeed. Well done, my good sir/madam. You've impressed me with, if not your design (I feel your actual mechanical skills, while decent, could be sharpened and/or simplified to be more effective and equally evocative), then with your vision, your ideas, and your sheer design-philosophy brilliance. *applauds*

EDIT: I don't say this lightly. The best praise I can probably say is this: I saw your skill system after writing this post, and I later ask for permission to lift/modify/use the core principles. I want the core idea of it (hesitations, perks for failing, and so forth) incorporated into any system I work on after this. It's that good. I think it could be IMPROVED on, yes...but it's still THAT GOOD. And I'd sort of like the chance to try my hand at seeing what I can add to an already phenomenal idea.

Skipping Coward and Daredevil for now, as I have problems with both of those I'll explain later.

Enlightened Madness is actually pretty fun, although it's VERY weak for a feat, as Confusion effects aren't really that common. I might combine it with some other similar effects. Maybe something like the ability to use a Commune like effect X/day by talking to the voices in your head? 'cause that really hits home the RP-focused thing you're going for. That said, I'd keep just the first and last of the three listed effects. Giving you an option to destroy the item you're holding seems out of place with the other effects, and doesn't really feel like it furthers your goal of more RP. I'd just cut it completely.

Hateful is great, especially since you actually included how it would work for an attack. Nice foresight to make sure that all attacks gain the bonus. I would, however, clarify that the bonus applies to only a single attack. Seems reasonable that way.

Pacifist seems like it grants an overly large bonus (I'd drop it to +2, especially since it can apply to all attack rolls and combat maneuvers). I'm also concerned by the special note at the bottom, only because it either limits other players, or instantly invites inter-party fights to the death. I'd make that level of fanatical pacifism the player's choice, honestly. There are pacifists who only consider themselves bound by pacifist, just as their are vegetarians who don't mind if others eat meat. By taking Pacifist, all a player has done has indicate that he/she will directly cause no lethal harm. Exactly how far their pacifism goes should be left up to the player if your goal is promoting good RP.

Heavyweight I dislike. My initial dislike is due to the Intimidation penalty: heavy people can be just as frightening, so that seems to hurt RP rather than help it. If I want to play a heavy, scary guy, I shouldn't be penalized for doing so. This feat is basically pigeonholing me, not opening up my RP options. Aside from that, it only grants numerical bonuses, and ones that scale on top of that. Ergo, this sort of feat will appeal to those interested in numbers and only numbers, which seems to be what you're trying to avoid. Add to that the fact that this could get really out of control with, say, Dwarves (who don't suffer encumbrance, so a really fat Dwarf wouldn't impose that much of a burden on the player and have a ton of damage reduction), and I think this is more a detriment to your design philosophy than a boon.

Serendipity I really like, because I love the flexibility. I'd add a few things to it though: first, give them 1 luck point/day starting out. Don't make them rely on failing to gain the benefit. (Read your other thread on failure in skills...this can be cut. In other news, I freakin' love your thoughts on skill failure. May I humbly ask that I be allowed to lift the core idea for an RP system I'm working on? I think it's a great solution to failure in RPGs.) Secondly, add that the DM has the final say on how points may be spent, and may, at his/her discretion, prevent them from being spent at all in certain situations. This allows the player to influence a game without controlling it: offering suggestion that would be fun and interesting, while still letting the DM dictate the flow of the game.

Now...on to the two I dislike. First off, Coward is very weak for the bonus it grants (the Prerequisites are HARSH), and I don't like things than cause you to lose feats for no gain. Davedevil is likewise to good: allies use Intimidate to cause you to be Shaken, and suddenly you're awesome with no downside. Of course, the Prerequisite to that feat is ALSO really painful.

Here's the reason they don't work: the Prerequisites are absolutes. There's no room for player choice, for the character to actually think about what is important, when to fight, when to run, when to accept a challenge. Even the most frightened individuals have things that will make them fight, and the most daring of people have things they will flee from, or dares they will not accept. The line exists somewhere, and players shouldn't be punished by losing their feats for allowing their characters to find and explore those boundaries. As such, this feats sharply limit roleplaying rather than enhancing it.

Does that make sense? I feel it's a really big deal...if I were making a cowardly or daring character, I'd skip these feats completely: they restrict my options to much, and don't allow room for natural character growth without a resulting loss in power. These things work better as Traits:

Daredevil: You gain a +2 bonus to perform any action that is especially dangerous, rash, or foolhardy (You may make suggestions, but this bonus is granted at the DM's discretion), and a +2 bonus to all saves against fear effects. If you successfully make a saving throw against a fear effect, you gain an additional standard action on your next turn.
Downside: If you pass up a dare or challenge that is reasonable for your character (i.e. a charismatic Swashbuckler being challenged to a duel or a battle of wits, but not a good-aligned Swashbuckler being challenged to kill an innocent being, nor a taciturn Swashbuckler being challenged to a poetry contest), you suffer a -1 penalty to all actions until you manage to rise to the occasion in a daring fashion (at the DM's discretion, but usually something comparable in scope to the challenge you chose to avoid).

Coward: You gain a +2 bonus to perform any action that helps you avoid direct confrontation, whether physical or verbal. When you take the Total Defense action, you gain an additional +3 bonus to Armor Class, and you gain a +3 untyped bonus to your Saving Throws. In addition, if you take damage in combat, you gain a +10ft bonus to all movement speeds. You only gain this bonus movement when fleeing the source of the damage in question.
Downside: The first time you take damage in combat, you are Frightened for 1 round. As long as you remain in combat, you suffer a -1 penalty to all actions.

2012-05-22, 10:44 AM
Heavyweight I dislike.
Add to that the fact that this could get really out of control with, say, Dwarves (who don't suffer encumbrance, so a really fat Dwarf wouldn't impose that much of a burden on the player and have a ton of damage reduction), and I think this is more a detriment to your design philosophy than a boon.

re only how this works with Dwarves, I think it is a nice plus. Dwarves are almost always shown to be overweight, more stocky than plump but still usually with a gut, this bit of mechanics might explain that iconic image.

2012-05-22, 11:04 AM
re only how this works with Dwarves, I think it is a nice plus. Dwarves are almost always shown to be overweight, more stocky than plump but still usually with a gut, this bit of mechanics might explain that iconic image.

It doesn't only work with Dwarves. Dwarves just happen to be best with it. That's not what really bothers me though...it's the purely numerical aspects. Being overweight isn't, to me, something that should really be represented mechanically, especially since being overweight doesn't mean you're more resistant to being hit with a sledgehammer. Sometimes, yes. Other times, no.

2012-05-23, 04:29 AM
I’m happy to receive peoples praise but DELIGHTED to receive your constructive criticism!:smallbiggrin:
I’ll try to address each concern as best I can.

Formatting: Yes, spoilers are a pain to edit but they make things a damn sight easier to read, I think. I’ll have to have a recommendation for a better option before I go about it elsewise.

Enlightened Madness: I suppose I should bring up somewhere in the text that it wouldn’t be hard to find potions and or magical items that could intentionally induce Confusion? Or maybe allow players to come up with a DM approved trigger that would cause it automatically?

Though something like ‘Commune with Dreams’ does sound like an interesting idea. Maybe interesting enough to explore as a feat of its own…

Also, if I just removed the second effect, the only available option for a player who rolls 51–75 on the Confusion Table would be to, “Deal 1d8 points of damage + Str modifier to self with item in hand”. Maybe I should add a couple more options? Like, “attempt to hide any item in hand, or attempt to eat item in hand,”?

Pacifist: Batman has just finished artfully punching out and tying up a group of Blood Cultists in such a way that no-one had to die. His partner on this mission pulls out a gun and makes ready to start executing them. Would Batman let that happen?

This feat is meant to make you feel like Superman, Rurouni Kenshin (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0267898/plotsummary), Vash the Stampede (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trigun), etcetera. Keep in mind that you are only obligated to protect the life of anyone YOU have defeated. A person with this feat can still function in a party of otherwise killers.

However, if you stand by and allow someone you’ve rendered helpless to be killed, you have just facilitated that person’s death. It’s not so much about respecting other people’s right to kill, it’s about them respecting your right to show mercy.

Also, because Not-Killing a thing in D&D is kind of a pain, I’d prefer the bonus to remain plump and juicy.

Heavyweight: Please note that the intimidation penalty only applies against fools (wisdom 10 and lower). Think about every heavy set warrior, in every piece of fantasy fiction, you’ve ever seen. No matter how clearly mighty they may be, there will always be that one simpleton who’s willing to mock and jeer, much to the horror of all bystanders uneager to arouse that warrior’s no doubt considerable wrath.

Also, please read the prerequisite again. This feat isn’t about Being fat, it’s about Getting fat and Staying fat. It’s about seeking out every opportunity to participate in a massive feast! It’s about responding to the appearance of a giant dire animal with speculation on how you’d like it cooked. It’s about responding to criticisms of your gluttony with quips like, “Well I’ve got to maintain my girlish figure haven’t I?”.

Aside from all that I’d forgotten to cap it at +100lbs. I’ve edited it to reflect that and clarify the intimidation penalty a little.

Serendipity: It already requires DM approval as written.

Coward and Daredevil: Remember that these feats are all meant to be easily replaceable, so character growth shouldn’t be an issue.

I made the prerequisites extreme because I want to try to actually incite these emotions in the player. I’ll soften the language some, but… here, let me break them down individually.

to good: allies use Intimidate to cause you to be Shaken, and suddenly you're awesome with no downside.
The down side is that using Intimidate in combat typically requires a standard action and isn’t even guaranteed to work. On the other hand, the party Rogue trying to enamor the Ranger with the idea of fighting a hoard of goblins by way of frantically explaining how lethally dangerous and foolhardy such a confrontation would be, is something I really want to see.

There are a thousand and one games out there with a character option called something like ‘Daredevil’ that gives you a small bonus to “doing something dangerous or foolhardy” and a small bonus to your Fear Save equivalent. I’ve picked this option myself several times and have always been underwhelmed.

Adventuring is in itself an inherently dangerous and foolhardy endeavor, so getting a DM to agree to a given thing being somehow exceptionally stupid is rare.
When you roll a 1 on your Fear Save (and you will), its exceptionally embarrassing/frustrating to have your character with all those ‘bravery points’ curl up into a ball and wet themselves.

I don’t want a player with this feat to come off as merely courageous. I want to make a crazed adrenaline junky out of them. If you hand a daredevil an unlabeled bottle and tell them to drink up, they don’t ask what’s inside or even sniff at it first, they drink it.
If a colossal flaming demon with the ever screaming faces of countless damned souls budding from its cancerous flesh raises up out of the earth, points a massive claw in the direction of a daredevil, and says, “YOU! YOU ARE NEXT!”, I want that daredevil to reply, without hesitation or irony, “This is the greatest moment of my life”.

A daredevil isn’t resistant to fear, they crave it like a fish craves water.

Coward: The bonuses you propose are nice and all but I don’t think they really get the feel of it right. I don’t know if you’ve ever played a cowardly character yourself, or read many books featuring a particularly craven first person narrator (I highly recommend The Flashman Papers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Paget_Flashman)), but there’s more to being a coward then just running away or shielding yourself from injury.

The first and foremost trait of a true coward, is that though they might be able to talk a good game, and they may stand boldly in the face of an inferior foe, when they are tested and the chips are down they will always fold.
They simply don’t possess the moral strength to do otherwise. If you can find it within you to shake off a primal terror injected strait into your heart through magical power, then you just aren’t a really that much of a coward.

Hilariously low pain thresholds are also a common trope. There’s little a coward hates more than the sight of their own blood, and little they delight in more than weeping over it.

The third most commonly shared trait found in cowards is a love of exploiting the helpless. After all, what better way is there to feel big then making someone else look small?

A huge capacity for stealth is not essential, but certainly important. Feeling invisible is one of the only ways a coward might know any peace of mind.

That's what a character option called 'Coward' should get across.