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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Sep 2016

    Default Phase-Based Combat [PEACH]

    Problem: hit points are a boring defense system. They encourage players to use their most damaging abilities over and over, round after round. They turn combat into a contest of statistics, rather than a contest of tactics.

    Solution: provide enemies with smaller pools of hit points, but unique defenses that must be penetrated before hit points can be effectively targeted. This turns combat in a series of hurdles, each to be overcome in a unique way.

    Here are some homebrew monsters I wrote and playtested at my table.

    I'm curious to see what you think, and what ideas you have for similarly designed enemies.

    EDIT: I've made the following changes since posting these monsters:
    • The dragon's Soft Underbelly reduces its AC to 10 instead of 15. This means that a dragon performing a barrel roll has just 15 AC, instead of a whopping 20.
    • When a ghost is hopeless to resolve its business, it simply dies. It does not have the option to come up with a new mission (such as vengeance).
    • Necrotic and radiant added to the list of damage type that can affect a ghost.
    • The damage oozes deal with Engulf has been reduced from 4d6 to 2d6.
    Last edited by GalacticAxekick; 2020-07-28 at 04:56 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Halfling in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2017

    Default Re: Phase-Based Combat [PEACH]

    I like the concept as a whole. The idea that you can just Yeet an enemy if you want, but if you want to be more tactical you can find ways to win more easily.

    Some Notes
    Dragon underbelly is a classic. Lots of good ways to get a dragon to reveal its belly. (Most of my ideas involve fire, though that probably won't work on most dragons)

    I think Poltergeists are not spirits, but rather emotions made manifest. I'm, of course, basing this off of an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but its a rule i live by to this day. Either way, I think forcing it to either resolve its business, resolving its business, or making its business unresolvable is good! I would removed that "It comes up with a new mission." and instead have it just "die" (Although technically it would just go to the next plane, right?), that way we don't have snarky DMs who say, after ruining its business: "Oh, well it has new business now, to kill you!." I can imagine a whole luigi's mansion style quest where you sneak around a haunted mansion, avoiding ghosts, while learning who each of them are and why they are here, and resolving their business to make them leave.
    I might add Necrotic and Radiant as other non-damage immunities.

    So the idea with the giant is to get them Prone? I suppose we could also do a surprise attack from the trees or rooftop or something. Lots of options now that i think about it. I'm not a fan of your solution, however, that they take less damage (Since you're only hitting the legs). I might emphasize that their legs are well armored and just give them a huge AC for small-medium creatures without reach or ranged weapons that are on the same elevation as the giant.
    Swat Missiles should be an action, otherwise its quite broken.

    Did the Ooze/common slime have a weakness that I did not notice? It seems like it has lots of strengths but i didn't notice a particular way that you're supposed to defeat it... Also, Why does an ooze have wisdom 10. I imagine its instincts are largely "Eat." Is there an enemy? Eat. Am i dying? Eat. Am i safe? Eat. If anything I think that THAT should be its weakness. "If the slime consumes more tiles than its size, it is forced split." The counter intuitive strategy is now to Cannon-Ball into the ooze.

    Are mimics Oozes? My understanding was that they were cephalopods. Regardless, this would be a good opportunity to add something like "While in their changed form they are weak and have 0 AC." or something.

    Overall
    Good instincts. If you made a book with a collection of these reworked monsters I think it would sell. There's sure to be a market for both DMs and players who want monsters that are more than reskinned fodder. Zombies that are afraid of Fire, trolls that turn to stone in the sunlight, Vampires who are nearly invulnerable unless you pound a stake into their chest while they're sleeping.
    Last edited by John Out West; 2020-07-28 at 03:52 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    DeTess's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2017
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: Phase-Based Combat [PEACH]

    I've taken a look over your enemy designs, and though they're interesting, none of them are particularly martial friendly. The wyrmligns are manageable on the ground, where a martial could just knock them prone to hit their underbelly, but in the air they're still AC20. The ghosts just flat-out can't be harmed by martials at all, the giants can only be harmed in melee if the DM uses the optional 'climbing large creatures' rules (which requires a free hand, meaning no dual-wielding, sword and board or two-handed weapon attacks), and they have an elevated AC against arrows and similar. The ooze also punishes being in melee with it by having a no-action save-or-lose (restrained+high damage is really nasty), and punishes slashing damage used against it.

    Now all of this could be 'working as intended'. Maybe you want martial characters to play smarter than just hitting things with a big axe or bow. But if so, step 1 should be redesigning martials to function within the new paradigm you want to set up.
    Last edited by DeTess; 2020-07-28 at 03:54 AM.
    Jasnah avatar by Zea Mays

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Sep 2016

    Default Re: Phase-Based Combat [PEACH]

    Spoiler: For DeTess
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by DeTess View Post
    I've taken a look over your enemy designs, and though they're interesting, none of them are particularly martial friendly [...] Step 1 should be redesigning martials to function within the new paradigm you want to set up.
    Noted! I'd like to highlight a few options that exist with the rules as they exist, as well as brainstorm new tools to fill the gaps.

    The wyrmlings are manageable on the ground, where a martial could just knock them prone to hit their underbelly, but in the air they're still AC 20.
    Wyrmlings are the only dragons who lack breath weapons, meaning that they must enter shoving/grappling range to attack. This is the martial character's chance to knock a wyrmling prone, anchor it to the ground, or ride it back into the air.

    To help with this, I would introduce a rule that says "You can use your opportunity attack to shove or grapple a creature, rather than make a melee weapon attack against it".

    The ghosts just flat-out can't be harmed by martials at all
    The ghosts can hardly be harmed by spellcasters either. Most damage types fails, and the two that don't only incapacitate the ghost for 24 hours. Anti-magic fields and banishment can defeat the ghost for good, but ghosts are hard to detect (therefore hard to target), and Phantoms possess Counterspell specifically escape anti-magic and banishment at the last second.

    The ghost was designed to be basically unfightable. You are encouraged to investigate or interrogate the ghost to discover what its mission is, and then to either complete that mission or convince the ghost that it's hopeless. The spellcaster's unique roll—as the only one who can incapacitate the ghost—is to buy the party time.

    The giants can only be harmed in melee if the DM uses the optional 'climbing large creatures' rules (which requires a free hand, meaning no dual-wielding, sword and board or two-handed weapon attacks), and they have an elevated AC against arrows and similar.
    Climbing large creatures is the #1 thing I want the giant's features to encourage (in the vein of Shadow of the Colossus). But knocking the giant prone or attacking it from high ground are other strategies. Hill giants are short enough to jump at (since a 6 ft tall character with at least 16 Strength can high jump to reach 15 ft up), and while running-and-jumping is a strategy bound to provoke opportunity attacks, that giant can't make an opportunity attack and use Swat Missiles in the same round.

    To help with this, I would introduce features that allow martial characters to wrestle with larger creatures, and even to knock creatures prone with ranged attacks (in the vein of David & Goliath).

    The ooze also punishes being in melee with it by having a no-action save-or-lose (restrained+high damage is really nasty), and punishes slashing damage used against it.
    It doesn't punish slashing, per se. Slashing the ooze fails to kill it, but reduces it to two relatively harmless oozes (too small to engulf) which are each significantly easier to kill. Slashing means that martials can reduce an ooze into bite-size chunks.

    You might be right about reducing the damage that Engulf deals, however.


    Spoiler: For John Out West
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by John Out West View Post
    I would removed that "It comes up with a new mission." and instead have it just "die" (Although technically it would just go to the next plane, right?), that way we don't have snarky DMs who say, after ruining its business: "Oh, well it has new business now, to kill you!."
    Removed!

    So the idea with the giant is to get them Prone?
    That's one option. Climbing the giant, attacking from high ground, and even leaping are options.

    I'm not a fan of your solution, however, that they take less damage (Since you're only hitting the legs). I might emphasize that their legs are well armored and just give them a huge AC for small-medium creatures without reach or ranged weapons that are on the same elevation as the giant.
    Ah, but their legs aren't well armored. Their legs are very, very easy to hit. They're just not worth hitting.

    Spears and arrows to the legs will hurt a giant, but like a rat biting at your ankles, they're hardly deadly. Meager attacks need to be directed to the face, the neck, the heart or the gut to deal legitimate damage.

    Swat Missiles should be an action, otherwise its quite broken.
    How so?

    Did the Ooze/common slime have a weakness that I did not notice? It seems like it has lots of strengths but i didn't notice a particular way that you're supposed to defeat it...
    If you're a spellcaster? Find ways to incapacitate or reduce its maximum hit points. It has low AC and relatively how hit points, so it's nothing without regeneration.

    If you're not a spellcaster? Slice the medium ooze into two small oozes. They're probably too small to engulf you, and they have few enough hitpoints that you can kill each in one turn.

    Also, even if no party member can deal 26 damage in one turn, several members can ready their actions and attack simultaneously.

    Also, Why does an ooze have wisdom 10. I imagine its instincts are largely "Eat." Is there an enemy? Eat. Am i dying? Eat. Am i safe? Eat. If anything I think that THAT should be its weakness. "If the slime consumes more tiles than its size, it is forced split." The counter intuitive strategy is now to Cannon-Ball into the ooze.
    The slime is basically a massive single-celled organism: unimaginably stupid, but nonetheless sophisticated. The same way a bacterium is dumb as a brick, but still sophisticated enough to evade predators, consume prey, work together with other organisms and adapt to its environment, the slime is sophisticated enough to fight "strategically".

    Are mimics Oozes? My understanding was that they were cephalopods. Regardless, this would be a good opportunity to add something like "While in their changed form they are weak and have 0 AC." or something.
    Traditionally? Mimics are monstrosities and not oozes. I rewrote the mimic as an ooze to give it a T-1000 Terminator vibe.

    Good instincts. If you made a book with a collection of these reworked monsters I think it would sell. There's sure to be a market for both DMs and players who want monsters that are more than reskinned fodder. Zombies that are afraid of Fire, trolls that turn to stone in the sunlight, Vampires who are nearly invulnerable unless you pound a stake into their chest while they're sleeping.
    ...I might just do this.
    Last edited by GalacticAxekick; 2020-07-28 at 05:18 AM.

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