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So, the server with the old homebrew stuff I and a few friends had worked on in the past is available again, which gave me the chance to look over some of the ideas we had back then, and what could be salvaged for a Pathfinder-based TDGA game.
The Background Traits still look like a good idea to me, because they make it a lot simpler to individualize characters, gave them a more unique background story and abilities and add more flavor to each individual character, with very little extra effort. Link: http://wiki.faxcelestis.net/index.php?title=Serpents_and_Sewers:_Backgro...
The classes are another idea I like, because of two things: It is nice to get a shiny new toy of abilities on every level, not just a small numeric bonus, and it would work out pretty well to make characters a bit more powerful by their own, trained and innate abilities because they are most likely not to be able to rely on all the shiny magical items. Thus, more classes and more class varieties are good for the game in question, because it offers more opportunities to players.
Obviously, we have no use for all the classes, and not everythin in there might be salvageable (and even those who are might need a reboot of some kinds to make the Pathfinder adjustments), but as a quarry of ideas, they might be useful. Link: http://wiki.faxcelestis.net/index.php?title=Serpents_and_Sewers:_Charact...
The Art of War list are a small list of additional collectable class features for martial characters to bring 'em closer to spellcasters in kinds of powers. There are a few quite cool ideas hidden there, and would help especially in Pathfinder which just doesn't have that much of a feat choice as in standard D&D yet, so extra options are a neat idea, and pretty much anything that helps out the fighters and warrior types in D&D is a good idea balance-wise. Link: http://wiki.faxcelestis.net/index.php?title=Serpents_and_Sewers:_Arts_of...
Parts of the Combat rules, specifically treating Armor as a source of Damage Reduction and give all characters a bonus to their AC when they grow in level, is an aquired taste of mine, and I always found it more interesting to be able to avoid as much attacks and possible instead of blicking maces with my forehead without any troubles.
Finally, I have found this little gem when searching for gritty houserules on the net. I think it's a very good way to work with injuries, and well, I think it would work pretty well with the intended tone of the campaign setting, by being risky and dangerous, but not entirely unfair or randomly lethal: http://lankhmar.pbworks.com/GrimnGrittyCombat
So any thoughts, ideas, criticisms?
My first thought is that the content there is written under the GNU Free Documentation License which is incompatible with the terms we are using on bySwarm. It is possible to rewrite them as game rules are not protectable, but I would be uncomfortable just doing a wholesale rewrite and adoption of them.
Regarding background traits
The Pathfinder Society organized play system has something similar to this, and I like it. I think we could use these for inspiration but should come up with our own for TDGA.
Regarding classes and class features
I think that if we can avoid altering the core classes or the base magic system, the better off we'll be. Eliminating a couple core classes or adding additional mechanics to the magic system is a lot more doable than completely changing things. I also think the changes that Pathfinder made go a long ways to balancing the classes. There are likely still issues at very high levels, but if the failing magic mechanics we create scale with level, it could be more balanced.
Damage mechanics changes
I think this has potential, but I'd have to play with it for a while to really judge it.
One thing is for certain - all of these are in some way possible with Pathfinder without having to worry about licensing of the core system. That is a Good Thing. ;)
That is a lot of stuff. It took some time to read it all.
The background traits are a cool ideas as well. They were originally in Iron Heroes, right? Anyway, this is something we should take into the game when we make the game on a Pathfinder base.
I like the classes a lot, and would say there is a lot of stuff to take up. How well are they balanced? Some classes seem a bit weak compared to others. I particularly like the Shapechanger. Best take on lycanthropy or shapeshifting I have ever seen in D&D.
If we phase out most of the spellcasting classes anyway, we should find some good replacements, or else there might not be enough variability. Anyway, we should still keep eleven base classes.
What do you think about taking one base spellcaster class, and treat all the spellcaster classes as prestige classes with comparatively low prerequisites?
Something like this:
Barbarian -> Berserker (Berserker Smash!)
Bard -> Adventurer (Jack of all trades)
Cleric-> Commander (some kind of leader who can 'buff' other characters)
Druid-> Pathfinder (wilderness expert)
Fighter-> Man-at-Arms (balanced, well rounded warrior)
Monk-> Martial Artist (a decent monk fix! I am pleasantly surprised)
Paladin -> Defender (slow, resilient warrior focused on defense)
Ranger-> Archer (Ranged Weapon Expert)
Rogue-> Thief (stealth expert)
Sorcerer-> Bravo (fast and mobile very aggressive warrior)
Wizard-> Base Spellcaster Class
Then take Wizard, Druid, Shapechanger, and the like and turn them into prestige classes.
What would you think of shifting the time period slightly so that magic is still collapsing rapidly, but that there certainly is still magic. It would make it easier to use Pathfinder as the basis, and then we could add mechanics and features to capture the fact that magic is collapsing rapidly. Here are a few ideas.
New base classes
In a D&D campaign I played, one of the other players played a Blood Mage, and I could see that type of magic fitting into the setting: http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Blood_Mage_(3.5e_Class)
Magic failure mechanics
Sometimes magic fails and the more frequently you do it or the more powerful that it is, the higher the chances for failure. In the Iron Kingdoms by Privateer Press, they didn't like that clerics could heal HUGE amounts of damage. They added a set of mechanics that if a cleric healed above a certain number of hit points, both the target being healed and the cleric could potentially suffer consequences - boils, blindness or even death.
More monsters that are immune to magic or counter magic
If we created monsters that are immune to magic or could counter magic, there would be less advantage to using magic against them.
The net result would be that players could still choose a spell-casting class, but they would be at a potential disadvantage. By taking this approach, we could avoid trying to create a lot of new base classes and completely rewriting the magic system.
Do you think that could work, Satyr? Is it something you would consider?
I thought about changing the fluff without significantly changing the mechanics, for Vancian spellcasters:
Wizards and their ilk still prepare spells, but instead of writing them down in a book or something like that, they summon minor, mindless spirits and bind them temporarily into an object, some kind of minor bauble which then holds the designated spell effect until the spellcaster takes it and frees the daimon, the spell effect comes into being. The usual material component takes the role of the temporary spell storage.
With this system, you could use most of the usual aspects of pathfinder, but it would make sense to make it take longer to prepare the spells (because every spell preparation is basically a lengthy summoning ritual) and once you used a spell, you would to perform the ritual again to regain the spell.
This makes spells a more precious ressource, and thus something that is used less frequently.
For wizards, this should work well enough, but it is unfortunately no solution for spontaneous spellcasters, and it leaves out one major problem: the lower availability of magical items hurts non-casters a lot more than casters. Even with the standard rules, there is a huge gap in power between "the guys with the pointy hats" and "guys with the pointy sticks" and with leaving out several magical items, this gap is probably increasing instead of decreasing.
Thus, perhaps some kind of skill check depending on the spell level would work to make it a bit less predictable if a spell works in the end seems like a good idea to me, other limiting aspects could be introduced as well.
We could probably kick out the sorcerer and replace it with a warlock expy, replace the cleric with something similar to the binder and split the druid (the one most powerful class in the game, according to the general opinion of the internet) into two classes, one a nature-bound spellcaster who channels the spirits of the land, and one whose gimmick is shapeshifiting powers. I have no idea what to do with the bard, though.
Fluffwise, warlocks and shapeshifters would be daimonids who learn how to channel their supernatural heritage into being without using other daimons as middle men (meaning: they have a lot fewer tricks, but they can use them all the time) and the binder expy learns to channel powerful daimons (who may be or may be not actual aspects of gods) into some kind of coordinated possesion, which allows the summoner to keep control (most of the time at least...) while accessing the power of the daimon within.
Including non-spellcasting alternative abilities for Paladins and Rangers, we would have then even one more base class than usual (two if we add the blood mage who looks indeed quite well for the setting), all the standard areas of expertise covered, at least in mind, if not in exact corresponence.
I think that Pathfinder is the best manifestation of D&D to date, and since ADGA strikes me as very D&D-esque, I think it is a good choice. There is justification for keeping the classes quite similar since, based on my reading of the setting notes, it is possible to just posit that magic was more powerful in the past, and now takes a lot of work (i.e. limited spontaneous casting or preparing spells every day, etc.). We can even keep the divine caster classes, since the setting posits that they are just spellcasters with a different dogma - no reason to re-invent the wheel. Their alternative training has them drawing upon Wisdom instead of Intelligence or Charisma. I suppose given that the gods are 'silent and uncaring' there may need to be some reworking. It is also very possible to have Pathfinder and just drop the Cleric, Druid and Monk entirely, saying that Ranger spells are just innate magical affinities and Paladin spells are pure manifestations of will. Part of me actually likes that idea - it will also make things a bit grittier, since magical healing will be almost non-existent, and nothing kills grit like magical healing.
Backgrounds triats could easily replace the various races of D&D, since they are just tweaked humans to begin with. I don't see any real difference between Dwarves and a race of humans mage-bred to be good mining slaves and durable troops. For consistency's sake, we could drop the Small character races entirely, since those are harder to justify as magical experiments on humans.
I think that magical items play too big (and predictable) part in D&D anyway, so I'm happy to drop them. I think the effect of granting bonuses to damage and AC and whatnot (which is really what 3.x magic items are all about) can be replaced with masterwork items, different kinds of materials (i.e. in Eberron and other settings) and house rules (such as add level to damage rolls and presto! no more need for extra damage from magical items)
Really, as I type this out, I think Pathfinder is the best option.
I am currently really annoyed that the server with the old Serpents and Sewers things on it is still down, because it would let me show a few things that actually work within D20. It is certainly not the answer to all problems, but there were some neat ideas.
For the species, that's not much of a problem. The race design in pathfinder is comparatively formulaic, and that makes it actually simpler to build a few species just for fun. And I don't find it too implausiblle that if you take a human and for example, a rat and create a magical crossbreed, the result is somewhat smaller than a human.
When it comes to numeric bonuses, it is actually not that difficult to just start with higher overall stats and use something like a class-based AC-bonus (that's alwaqys bugged me about about D&D in a way: sure, at one point I can block a battle axe with my face without any dire consequences, and I can sure hit anything that moves with my really big sword, but somehow I cannt learn to defend myself any better).
I agree that since ADGA is a fantasy setting, Pathfinder makes for a logical choice. There will also be many ways in which we have to customize the system and expand it since the magic level is significantly lower in ADGA than in standard Pathfinder. For example, I imagine rangers as a class could exist, but I would highly doubt they gain actual spells as they advance. Some sort of magic system will be necessary though, I just think that the standard Pathfinder magic system will require significant alterations or a total replacement.
Yes, probably we'd need a replacement magical system (and according classes).
The basic suggestions is to increase the overall power of characters and character classes in themselves, but reduce the dependency on magical items.
Two or so years ago, a few friends of mine and me started with a similar project rulewise, which has been abandoned since. I think it is a fair game to plunder and pillage the assumptions made then and adapt them for our needs (only as suggestions). Unfortunately, the wiki were the stuff is posted is not availiable at the moment but here is the link anyways: http://wiki.faxcelestis.net/index.php?title=Serpents_and_Sewers
- Characters gain two additional "background traits" which acts as a neat extra abilities.
-Races advance over time and give an additional bonus to all kinds of stuff when the character advances in level
- Characters gain a heroic path as an additional layer next to race and class in the form of a heroic path (shamelessly copied from Midnight D20; but only for every three levels - the Midnight SRD includes the original paths to compare: http://darknessfalls.leaderdesslok.com/character_heroic-paths.htm
-Characters gain a neat class feature on every level, not just a numeric bonus.
This is pretty much the ghist of it.
For spellcasters, I would take the traditional D&D warlocks and binders as an orientation; they were among the better balanced classes (especially for spellcasters) and could be adjusted to DGA quite well.
Pathfinder has the great advantage that it is basically D&D, and thus seem to have a broad fanbase and a long tadition of 3rd party publishers, so we can probably use this as well.
From an economic perspective this might actually be the safest option. It has the other advantage that since it is basically D&D it is very likely that everybody here has experiences with the game, and thus can contribute to it, and that there are so many houserules and options available, that changing and adapting the rules is easier due to loads and loads of examples.
This doesn't mean that Pathfinder is perfect in all regards. It has many of the same issues that D&D traditionally has (at least since 3rd edition): A comparatively competitive gameplay combined with a comparatively bad balancing of the classes, some rule artifacts which are carried on and on, even though they aren't very good, only traditional, and due to the fact that it is the average standard of roleplaying games, it is also the least innovative option.
The other issue is that the typical over the top, larger than life high fantasy atmosphere of D20/Pathfinder doesn't cope too well with TDGA as a setting, which is more on the lower side of fantasy, so changes and adaptations are pretty mandatory.
What I would like to see for Pathfinder would be something comparable to the Midnight Setting by Fantasy Flights game or Conan D20 by Mongoose: Good working, well-made stand alone games with a unique atmosphere, rules adjusted to the setting and some extra options the basic game does not have.
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