Tuesday, November 29, 2016

[CRIT] Encumbrance

One of my good fellow DMs informed me that Volo's Guide to Monsters gave the “Powerful Build” race feature to two new core classes, which just fucked my shit up encumbrance-wise. Since I now have to hot-fix my encumbrance rules, I figured I'd take the opportunity to lay out those rules in detail, touching on the source material that they came from and my intent behind creating him.
First, I should note that house rules under my Back to Basics moniker are meant to return Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition to its roots: clawing around in dark dungeons starving to death and screaming for mother as you solemnly peel a new character off the stack. I find that this is best done by adding mechanics that inject brutal resource management.
Historically, one of the hardest resources to manage was the room you had left in your pockets, which was especially crucial in a system where your level advancement was determined by how much loot you could drag out of a dungeon. 5th Edition's treasure philosophy is a happy medium between the old and new schools: relatively stingy with the loot itself, but a dearth of things to do with it (especially if you're using my downtime overhaul), creating an inventive nearly equivalent to that provided by gold-for-XP.
However, 5th Edition – and older editions of D&D for that matter – lack an encumbrance mechanic comprehensive yet streamlined enough to regulate that incentive. In comes Luke Crane's Torchbearer, a love letter to the D&D editions of old that modernizes and properly gamifies resource management. Being a huge fan of Luke's work, a lot of my Back to Basics rules owe themselves to Torchbearer, particularly its encumbrance subsystem, which utilizes set containers and the slots in those containers to constrain and elegantly manage character inventories.
As I said, I feel that Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition lacks an encumbrance system that can do heavy lifting for resource management. So here, have one! And just to cap off my tangent: including “Powerful Build” turned out to be an easy fix.

Containers
The amount of items you can carry is determined by the containers that you have.
  • Hands: 2 items. You can only carry oversized items with both hands, or one hand if carrying it with a partner.
  • Sack (1 cp): Number of items equal to your Strength score. Takes one hand to carry, or two hands if more than halfway full.
  • Backpack (2 gp): Number of items equal to your Strength score.
  • Belt (5 sp): 6 items. Only one of these items can be large.
  • Quiver (1 gp): 1 item. The item must be ammunition. “Quiver” is a catch-all term for bolt cases and sling stones.
  • Satchel (1 gp): This container cannot be worn with a backpack. It holds a number of items equal to half your Strength score (rounded up).
  • Bandolier (1 gp): This container cannot be worn with a backpack. It holds 6 items. It cannot hold large items.
If you are carrying a full backpack, satchel, or sack, you are encumbered, meaning your speed drops by 10 feet.
If you are carrying a full backpack or satchel and a full sack, you are heavily encumbered. Your speed drops by 20 feet and you have disadvantage on ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws that use Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution.

Retrieving Items From Containers

Retrieving an item from a belt or a bandolier uses an interaction. Retrieving an item from any other container uses your movement or action.

Item Weight

Items that weigh 10 or more pounds are considered to be large (large items count as two items). Items that weigh 20 or more pounds are considered to be oversized.

Item Stacks

Items do not “stack” except in the quantities they are purchased, as shown in the Player’s Handbook. 100 coins count as one item.

Powerful Build

If you have the “Powerful Build” racial feature, you gain the following benefits:
  • You can carry oversized items in one hand
  • You can carry sacks that are more than half full with one hand
  • You can carry two large items on a belt, and one large item on a bandolier

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

[&] There is No Universally Accepted Definition of a Mountain

There is no universally accepted definition of a mountain
The mountain is the first species of quantity
Which has only one dimension
Namely length
Without any width or depth
And is nothing else than the flow or run of the point which
Will leave from its imaginary moving some vestige in length
Exempt of any width
Breathless length
Unprovable properties
Circular in nature since mountains depend on concepts which must themselves have definitions
But the mountain is a primitive concept in that it is given no definition
Sometimes, authorities call a mountain a hill

Thursday, November 3, 2016

[CRIT] Run Away!

Here's a mechanic for pursuit in dungeons in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition that I stole from Lamentations of the Flame Princess (if you haven't noticed, I steal from LotFP a lot. How could I not? It's a work of sheer genius!) and shamelessly butchered. It will be added to the Back to Basics section of my House Rules. I wanted a set of rules for chases that were more specific than those outlined in the Dungeon Master's Guide, and more dynamic than just using movement rates.
Run Away! (Action): The party must declare that they are using this action when initiative is rolled. Once declared, this action can be used by any party member during the round. In order to use this action, you must have at least 1 foot of unspent movement. When this action is used, pursuit begins.
In order to participate in pursuit you must have at least 1 foot of unspent movement. Hereafter, the party that declared the Run Away! action is the "quarry," and any party that elects to chase the quarry is the "pursuer."
When the Run Away! action is used, the quarry decides if they are going to use the lowest pursuit roll among them, or the individual pursuit rolls of each party member. Then, members of the quarry can use interactions to drop a equipment or containers (perhaps to increase their movement speed, or to distract the pursuers with food or wealth), and use actions to create obstacles, each bestowing advantage on a number of pursuit rolls determined by the DM based on the nature of the obstacle.
When the quarry has finished preparing, each member of the quarry makes a pursuit roll, which is 1d20 + their movement rate divided by 5 (round up). The pursuers make one pursuit roll using the lowest movement rate in the party.
  • Quarry Matches or Beats Pursuer: The quarry escapes from combat and end up in a random area that is a number of areas away equal to their movement rate divided by 5 (round up), in a random direction as determined by a d8 roll (1 is north, 2 is northeast, etc.). If the quarry elected to use the individual pursuit rolls of each party member, determine random areas for each party member, instead of the quarry as a whole.
  • Pursuer Beats Quarry: The quarry does not escape from combat, and ends up in a random area that is a number of areas away equal to their movement rate divided by 10 (round down), in a random direction as determined by a d8 roll (1 is north, 2 is northeast, etc.). The DM distributes pursuers in the areas occupied by members of the quarry. If the quarry elected to use the individual pursuit rolls of each party member, determine random areas for each party member, instead of the quarry as a whole.
When writing this mechanic, it quickly got convoluted - not the mechanic itself, really, but how I had to phrase everything. Despite its wordiness, I appreciate how this mechanic accounts for player agency. The PCs can throw lit oil when trying to escape, they still make progress even if they don't escape, they can drop barrels of treasure that are weighing them down, they can leave slower characters behind, etc. Really, it's okay that this mechanic takes a couple read-throughs to comprehend when you consider just how much this mechanic covers.
And if you have any clarifying questions, you can always drop them in the comments!