View Full Version : D&D 3.5/3.P - Removing all bonus types for easier math

2014-05-15, 04:06 PM
Hi there!
I am a DM in a (quite homebrewy) Pathfinder campaign. We are currently at level 13.
Consider that i am a strict DM, trying to enforce party balance, banning all save or die from boss fights, and generally favoring "simple yet tactical" combat whenever i can, but also looking for cinematic action where you can't end a fight in one round.
All encounters are fine-tuned for a specific difficulty value and i try to enforce this difficulty each time. (the difficulty might range from "extremely easy", to "special tactics needed here", to "just run away, its not worth to fight this")

Lately, ive been noticing how much time we pass calculating buffs, spell effects, stacking modifiers, etc.
I was thinking of simplying it all with a simple rule:

This rule only impacts AC, saves, to hit modifiers (which are the thing that mostly are impacted by lenghty math)
Numerical values that are static and part of your character is as the base game. Your armor, shield, equipment is calculated as per the base rules, respecting stacking rules.

Everything ELSE that is temporary, like spells, abilities and conditions are treated differently. All modifiers types (enhancement, dodge, deflection, morale, etc) are summarized into ONE type that we call "temporary". "Temporary" never stacks with itself.

You can only benefit from the highest temporary modifier to each of your attributes. You also suffer the disadvantages of the worst negative effect that is active on you.

For example, Bob the paladin has a magic armor and shields, amulets and other equipment that gives him 20 points of AC. This is his fixed AC.
If Bob is buffed with magic vestment, he gets 2 points of temporary AC. His AC is now 22. If he uses smite evil he gets +3 AC versus one enemy. That's his best modifier, so he uses AC 23 versus that enemy. He then becomes shaken (-2 to hit) and also dazzled (-1 to hit). His total temporary to-hit modifier is -2, the single worst modifier he has.

Exception: mage armor and shield are calculated as per RAW, because they are not meant to improve, rather to keep on par with something else. Everything that is an effect of combat maneuvers (charge, total defense, etc) are calculated as per RAW (in order not to render them useless).

What would you say of this system?
I have found some PROs and CONs, maybe you can find some more?

- Easy, fast math. Don't need to spend a lot of time figuring your modifiers. You simply take the best and worst.
- Way easier to balance encounters, when i know your values wont jump from 20 to 40, but only if you decided to buff.
- You use less buff spells, which means you have more slots for more interesting spells

- one strategy (buff everyone for this fight, then rest) is eliminated from the game.
- some spells lose value. What's the point of preparing spells that give +2 AC, if someone else has one that gives +4? (I would let them the PCs change spell choices)
- equipment with permanent effects (magic things) are worth more.

For me, i think the PROs heavily outweigh the CONs.
Anybody has some input? Can you foresee some glaring problems that i forgot and that will break balance?

2014-05-16, 03:47 AM
Hmm, I like the simplicity, but I worry that you may have overshot it a little.
Personally, I like stacking buffs, but I'll admit having to calculate which buffs you already have or don't have does get annoying. Have you considered letting each buff stack, but having all the buffs at 50%?
So, you calculate fixed AC.
Then someone gets a +4 AC bonus on top of that. Reduce this to +2. Someone else gives him +2 more of the same type. Reduce that to +1, for a total of +3.
Alternatively, the first bonus is full, and all additional bonuses are halved.
Stronger creatures are going to require a little buff stacking to stand up against, and if you don't let them get anything but their single highest bonus, then the cleric is going to be very busy.
Perhaps the best of all worlds would be to simplify the bonus types.
AC would have armor (armor/shield), magic (anything from spells), Dexterity (dodge/dex), and maybe one more.