Thursday, 29 April 2010

A New Way of Looking at Skills

I ended introducing skills to my C&C Games mainly because players wanted them, I love the C&C system as a whole but the general concensu was folks wanted a little more "definition" to their characters. After pinching skill systems that didn't really "fit" (a mixture of AD&D 1st and 3.5 Editions) I came up with a new approach.

Here's how I've being doing it - its been working quite well for the last couple of Months.

This is a way for the use of skills in C&C games to 'fit' a little better with the Siege Engine System - so it’s possible to actually still use both approaches - allowing characters to attempt pretty much anything whilst maintaining a more structured approach - with appropriate Challenge Ratings of course.

This would still allow a Fighter to attempt to pick a lock (for example) - he just wouldn't have much of a chance of succeeding (IMHO as it should be).

I personally believe that rather than have a long static list of skills, the players should choose skills that fit their character concept and with the help of their CK – and come up with their own list of skills and their descriptions.

Skills would still have ranks of sorts – and these levels are ‘rated’ like any characters attributes –

• Tertiary (the lowest skill level)
• Secondary (average skill level
• Primary (the highest skill level)

Like class skills, the character applies any appropriate attribute bonus to the task at hand - strength when shoeing a horse, or dexterity when making a horse-shoe – both would be considered to come under the skill heading of blacksmithing, but you would require strength for one and manual dexterity for the other. But unlike class skills, you don't add your class level in a 'straight' manner.

• Primary skills get a +1 bonus per level
• Secondary gets +1/2 levels
• Tertiary gets a +1 bonus per 3 levels

Your base challenge rating is determined by skill 'level' – level 3/Primary = 12, level 2/Secondary = 15, and level 1/Tertiary = 18. This in turn has a Challenge Rating applied by the Myth Master determined by the individual circumstances for that particular use of the skill.

As rule of thumb - the Number of slots a Character has for his Secondary Skills are equal to –

Characters (INT+WIS) + Characters Starting Age/10 (round up).

Skill Level / Cost to "buy" at First Level
Tertiary (18 ) / 2 point
Secondary (15) / 4 points
Primary (12) / 6 points

Skill Level / Cost to "buy" after First Level
Tertiary (18 ) / 3 point
Secondary (15) / 6 points
Primary (12) / 9 points

Example - Brother Kydric has 26 ‘Slots’ to spend on his Secondary Skills – and he decides to spend 6 Slots on Healing. Giving him the Healing secondary skill at Level 3/Primary, his base challenge difficulty for all tests involving his Healing secondary skill is set at 12.

I set the costs for buying new skills as higher after the character has begun his "career" to make it more difficult later on in a characters development - mainly to stop PC's being "bogged down" with huge lists of skills.

A Character gains Secondary Skill points at every ‘Odd’ level (3rd, 5th, 7th and so on), the points he gains are equal to his Class Prime attribute modifier (whichever is higher) +1 (with a minimum "gain" of 1 Secondary Skill point).

To make the check, the character performing the skill simply rolls a d20 and adds his appropriate modifiers - the difficulty is set by his skill level (either 12, 15, or 18) plus any challenge rating added by his CK.

So if a character is level three, has a dexterity of 15 (the appropriate attribute in this example), and his skill level is 3/Primary – when using the Weapon Smith secondary skill they are allowed a +4 to their roll.

In some instances the use of skills causes another to make a saving throw. In this case, the character, monster or non-player character makes a saving throw but modifies the roll by a -1 for each level of skill the character has (-1 for Tertiary, -2 for Secondary, and -3 for Primary).

This is also adjusted further for any attribute modifiers. When a saving throw is called for, the character’s level or monsters hit dice also affect the roll.

Furthermore, as mentioned above - there are always circumstances than need some modification beyond that mentioned above.

Unusual circumstances, the weather and pure chance can come into play to effect the chances of success. In addition, the difficulty of the situation also adjusts the roll.

Its fairly straight forward, fits in with the concept of primes - and doesn't screw up the SEIGE Engine system.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Morality & Responsibility

Even though I’m no moralizer - I have commented in the past about the moral “grey area” of WizBro’s marketing. How it’s an example of corporate greed, and that I believe it’s going to be damaging to the hobby in the long run.

I’ve had my dissenters, (you know who you are Mister B) and there have been yells and whines about how they are a business and need to make money.

Whilst that is true, I don’t think it’s right dumbing it all down to the level it has been (the rumour is character sheets are going next, to be replaced by cards – another product in the line no doubt) whilst exploiting it to the level they have.

D&D T-Shirts have been around for years, worn in “geek pride” by many a gamer – but a line of Soft Drinks, even a ‘limited edition’ one is taking the p**s IMHO.

A lot of parents have been running 4e with their kids, and whilst I think it’s a good thing – the ages concern me. Getting very young kids (even in one instance a pre-schooler) taught to play D&D – feels a little more like indoctrination than a family activity. As at very young ages they hear the word “game” and are up for anything, without the ability to make a decision about wanting or not wanting to play it on their own.

D&D has been aimed at kids before – that’s a fact I know.

Sure there have been colouring books in the past - and the Classic Animated Series (which I still adore). But if it IS to be marketed at kids, it should be done in a more appropriate and responsible way – Making a "kiddy friendly" product.

The Harvesters RPG from Troll Lord Games is a brilliant example of a game designed to be played by kids and their parents.

But, if such marketing exists – it should be tempered with a little morality and responsibility. Something WizBro seems to be lacking.

Still not convinced – then scoot over to the Virgin Casino and check out “Crystal Caverns” – a Dungeons and Dragons slot machine game (I kid you not).

“Adventure & fortune awaits in Dungeons & Dragons: Crystal Caverns. Now with Tumbling Reels® plus free spins & a scatter feature.”


Of course, you can play for free – but to allow such an obvious abuse of the D&D brand and linking it to gambling - is despicable behaviour at best.

Well done WizBro – you really suck now!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

The Campaign for Real (as in folklore and legend) Elves

I've been talking to my friend Chris about this.

Elves in Fantasy are little more than effeminate Humans with pointy ears and an overly aloof nature.

One more thing Tolkien can be blamed for in modern fantasy (I know I'm going to get hate mail over that one LoL).

In mythology, Elves are far more interesting especially taking on Nordic and Celtic references.

Its quite interesting to note that WizBro attempted to "bring them into the fold" of 4e with Eladrin, but just missed the mark (more to do with the dreadful system than the initial idea).

The "Seelie" (Bright or Good Elves) and "Unseelie" (Dark or Evil Elves) are far more than pointy eared Santa's Workshop midgets or the foppish Drag-Queens of modern fantasy.

By looking around the internet and through dusty tomes you can find a wealth of fantastic ideas about these fascinating people.

The LIST of information about 'real' Elves is seemingly endless, but here are a few thoughts.

An "Unseelie" (as in Evil or Dark) Elf that intends you harm can be "warded" against by marking the doors/windows/entrances with a Pentacle. As in certain Druidic cults the Pentacle is also a symbol of reverence, could a Druid "Turn" an Unseelie Elf with one?

Even though its mentioned here and there, I can't find much reference to the 'famous' Fae vulnerability to iron.

But should you want to include it, how about this - critical hits are delivered to a "True" Elf on a natural 18+ rather than a natural 20+. Representing their weakness towards it. In addition, such Elves cannot comfortably use weapons and armour made from it; and will be at a penalty of -2 to all tasks when wearing it - and cannot cast Arcane Spells at all. BUT (and its a BIG BUT) do we count Steel under this ruling. (Upon saying that, I quite like the thought of Elves running around in cool looking Bronze Armour)

If an Elven Woman is rejected by a Mortal Man or who has lost her Elven Life-Mate becomes a "Beansidhe" (Banshee) - automatically gaining the powers of the Monster and becoming an NPC in the Process. This can be avoided with a successful Save vs Petrification being made once per Month, but a -2 Penalty is imposed on each successful save after the first, till she eventually succumbs to her fate . . . .

Elves in some Celtic Myths have enlarged Canines, much like a Cat (maybe they "evolved" from Felines much in the way we evolved from Monkeys) and have eyes and hair colours that range the full spectrum (it not mentioned, but I wonder if their irises would be 'cat-like' too - a cool thought IMHO). The 'cat' thing might be down to the fact the Ancient Elves were all shape shifters though.

Size - I can't find any solid reference to height! In some cultures they are tiny, others they are almost giants, the Celts described them as "man sized".

Malekith, who was a character from marvel comics - an Enemy of Thor and the other Asgardians was 6'9" tall! (But he is an 'Ancient One') is a shapeshifter (as all Ancient Elves are) and has a vulnerability to Iron. (Malekith exists in Mythology btw, and F'ing GW pinched the name for a Dark Elf Lord grrrr).

Just some thoughts really, though Chris has actually named the movement "CAMRE" (the CAMpaign for Real Elves).


Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Allowable Classes & Multi-Classing Revisited

I’m one of these people who’s brain is constantly churning, and of late I’ve been thinking about trends for Demi-Human (I’ve always preferred the term Demi-Human rather than Non-Human) characters.

As you know, I’ve always preferred to have Class/Level Limits on Demi-Humans – but a lot of people find them unrealistic and want to know why such limits should be imposed.

Level Limits, are they realistic? Allowed Classes – should Demi-Humans be allowed any Class – or should they be restricted?

Allowable Classes by Race

Paladins are restricted to Humans only – such things are a Human concept and utterly alien to Demi-Humans.

Knights (or Cavaliers if you prefer) remain the province of Humans, Half-Elves, and Elves.

Barbarians are restricted once more, only Humans and Half-Breeds such as Half Orcs and Half Ogres are allowed. Dwarves live underground and Halflings are too mild mannered to be so “barbaric” (for want of a better term).

The Illusionist is no longer just the province of Humans and Gnomes – with Elves being as Magical as they are, its illogical not to allow them to pursue the Illusionist Class should they want to.

Monks are traditionally a Human based Class, but I think it’s fair to open the Class up to Half-Breeds – as traditionally Monasteries take in waifs and strays from time to time. HOWEVER I would put certain restrictions on those Half-Breed players wanting to play any such Character as a Monk – perhaps using the Attribute minimums from the original AD&D Players Handbook.

Magic Users (or Wizards if you prefer) are still restricted to Humans, Elves, and Half Elves. As in the original D&D Dwarves were inherently non-magical, and Halflings lack the discipline for hours of study – it makes perfect sense that the Magic-User Class be restricted.

Bards are a special case, the original Bard Class was a complex undertaking. I actually allow both the original and a more modern Bard Class in my Games. Though the “modern” Bards are referred to as Troubadours. Members of the original Bard Class should be restricted to Humans, Elves, and Half Elves – whereas Troubadours can be of almost any Class/Race combination.

Gnomes have no real changes or surprises, to be frank – I think they are fine as they are.

Thieves, Assassins, and Acrobats are good “as is” to be frank – no tampering is needed.

After much thought, here is the basic allowable “Class by Race” Table. You will note certain Classes are still prohibited.


Half Elf

Half Orc

Half Ogre

Elf (All)



















Knight (Cavalier)




Magic User

























































Troubadour (Bard)









Å – Class freely allowable for that Race.

Å* – Requires a good back-story and/or DM’s approval. Such Characters are rare, or generally aren’t seen outside of that Races Homelands or wouldn’t naturally take up that Class.

Ω – Class strictly prohibited for that Race

Levels, Experience Points, and Race Restrictions

The more I think of it, the more Level Restrictions for Single Classed Demi-Humans seem silly. There are arguments that Training would not be made so readily available to Demi-Humans in a human centric world. However, when the Experience Points/Level System was originally laid out – the points a character earns to advance in Level were called “Experience Points” not Potential Advancement Points (or whatever) they are a measure of a Characters “Experience” during his adventuring life.

I’ve always allowed characters to advance upon attaining the required XP, as it represents the characters advancement through adventuring and having “experiences” – I’ve also allowed ALL Classes to earn XP during non-adventuring down time (much as Magic Users do when doing research) through meditation, training, and other non-adventuring activities (as a rule of thumb, use learning patterns and XP awards along the lines of those given to Magic Users doing spell research) thereby allowing characters to advance in Level through training, rather than just adventuring. This of course uses up large amounts of a characters financial resources, forcing them to adventure to garner more wealth. In doing it this way, I’ve found it more realistic and more interesting for my players (some have even written stories about their characters exploits between part adventures).

My recommendation is that a single Classed Demi-Human not be restricted as to how high he might rise in Level, and that such restrictions only come in if a Demi-Human Multi-Classes.

Why I think most people will be wondering . . . . .

A Top Surgeon becomes a Top Surgeon because he “specializes”, if her were a General Praticioner he might be able to perform basic surgical procedures, but he will never be as accomplished as a Surgeon.

Likewise, a Single Classed Fighter should be able to advance to a point where he will simply out-Class a Multi-Classed Fighter – who’s focus and attentions are split on more than one Class.

Rather than make Level restrictions the domain of Racial leanings, it is now based purely on “how many balls” your character has in the air at one time.

This of course allows Humans to Multi-Class, something Gary Gygax was in favour of in his Castle Zagyg notes for Castles & Crusades. Furthermore, it allows (if the Demi-Human is single Classed) for a Demi-Human to change Classes during his career and Dual Class.

However, once a Demi-Human (or Human for that matter) has chosen the Single-Class path – he may never Multi-Class.

Multi Class Restrictions

If a Character belongs to Two Classes, he (or she) may never advance to more than 15th Level in each Class. This maximum Level may be modified by the “Exceeding Level Limits“ chart.

If a Character belongs to Three Classes, he (or she) may never advance to more than 12th Level in each Class. This maximum Level may be modified by the “Exceeding Level Limits“ chart.

No character my Multi-Class with more than Three Classes.

Furthermore, certain Classes are restricted when it comes to Multi-Class choices.

You may never Multi-Class with the Paladin or Knight (Cavalier) Classes, the restrictions placed upon them by their “Code” prevents anything but the utmost dedication to their calling.

The only Multi-Class options for Barbarians are Thieves, Clerics, or Druids. Multi-Class Barbarian/Clerics and Barbarian/Druids fulfil the role of Shaman within the Barbarian Tribes. Multi-Class Barbarian/Thieves are just an obvious choice thanks to the stories of Conan and Thongor.

Bards are a Class that requires “Dual Classing” so may never be a Multi-Class choice.

Troubadours Multi-Class most effectively with Thieves, Assassins, or Magic-Users. Though almost any combination is possible.

Here are specifics about the interaction of the restrictions and abilities of Multi-Classed Characters.

Gnomish Multi-Classed characters are (for example) limited to Leather Armour in order to cast spells, while Elven Multi-Classed Characters are not. These restrictions reflect the particular nature of the Demi-Human races.

It is a general rule however, that a Cleric/Fighter may always use edged weapons.

When belongs to more than one Character Class, any Experience Points gained by the character will be divided evenly between those classes, once the character can no longer progress in one of the classes this splitting of XP ends – and the XP is given in its entirety to the Class the character may still advance in.


· Multi–classed characters use the least restrictive Weapons list for their classes.

· Multi–classed characters use the most restrictive Armour list of their classes.

· Multi–classed characters cannot combine abilities**

· Starting gold is determined by rolling for each class individually, combining the results and dividing that by the number of classes the character has.

**For example – With regards to a Multi Classed Fighter/Thief/Bard - the Fighter’s extra attack means that the character can make an extra normal attack but NOT use that extra attack make a Back Attack, or to “Inspire”.

When a Multi-Classed Character begins his career or advances in one of his or her classes, hit points are determined by rolling the appropriate die (D4 for Wizards and Illusionists, D6 for Rogues and Assassins, etc.), dividing by the number of Classes involved (so two for a Cleric/Thief, or three for a Fighter/Cleric/Wizard, for example), and adding the appropriate constitution modifier.


In order to switch from one class to another, the Character must have an ability score of 15+ in the Classes Prime Attribute of the original Class, and of 17+ in the Prime Attribute of the new Class.

The character retains his or her Hit Points.

He or she can use the particular abilities of the original class, but doing so can cause the character to halve all experience points that would be gained from using the original Classes Abilities (as determined by the GM) as XP Earned from utilizing the abilities of the previous Class cannot be applied in full to the new one (although a the Character can still learn from these experiences). This restriction applies until the character has advanced in the new Class to a Level at least one higher than was attained in the original Class.

When the character begins the process of learning a new class, he or she gains the Abilities of the new Class as a First Level member of that Class, and all Experience is applied to progressing in the new class. The Character gains no additional Hit Points until reaching a Level in the new Class one Level higher than in the original Class, after which time the Character’s Hit Points advance as per the new class.

Unlike Multi-Class characters, certain Dual-Classed characters cannot perform the functions of several different classes simultaneously. So, for example, an Elven Fighter/Wizard could cast Arcane Spells while wearing Armour, but a Human Dual-Classed Fighter/Wizard would have to remove his or her Armour to do the same thing. However, with dual-classed characters, any combination of classes is possible, provided the character qualifies in terms of Primary Ability Scores and can comply with any relevant Alignment and Race restrictions. An individual with very high Ability Scores could therefore play a Cleric/Paladin or a Wizard/Illusionist.

If a Multi-Class option is taken, and the Prime Attribute for that class is a Secondary Attribute - then a 10% tithe is placed upon all EEP (or XP) that is applied to that class (so deduct 10% before applying it to your EPP/XP total for that class) – if a Multi-Class option is taken, and the Prime Attribute for that Class is a Tertiary attribute - then a 25% tithe is placed upon all EEP/XP that is applied to that class (so deduct 25% before applying it to your EPP/XP total for that class).

Now the 25% penalty might seem harsh, but it’s there for a reason – to DISCOURAGE a player from taking a Class with a Tertiary Attribute – JUST BECAUSE HE (OR SHE) can – we've all encountered such discommodious players.


· Dual–classed characters take the best to hit bonus of their classes.

· Dual–classed characters use the least restrictive weapons list for their classes.

· Dual–classed characters use the most restrictive armour list of their classes.

· Dual–classed characters cannot combine abilities***

***For example – With regards to a Dual Classed Monk/Troubadour - the Monk’s extra attack means that the character can make an extra normal attack as allowed by the Monk Class - but NOT use that extra attack to use the Troubadour’s “Inspire” ability.

Skills & Saves for Multi-Class /Dual Class Characters

When it comes to Saves and Tasks involving your Level, you simply use the appropriate Class Level.

For Example – Aladon is about to Pick a Lock. Aladon is a 3rd Level Thief/2nd Level Wizard. He would use his Rogue Level when rolling to pick the Lock. But to make an INT based Saving Throw vs. a Spell – Aladon would use his Wizard Level as INT is a Wizards Prime Attribute.

Exceeding Level Limits

Multi-Classed Characters with extremely high scores in the ‘Prime’ Attributes of their Classes can exceed their racial maximum levels. In the case of Multi-Class characters, the additional Levels only apply for the Prime Attribute of the class in question having a Secondary Attribute in a Class of choice offers no additional Levels.

Additional Levels for having high Prime Attribute Scores

Attribute Score

Additional Levels

















For example – "Kalar the Holy" is a Fighter/Cleric and is limited as such to 15th Level in both Classes. However his Wisdom is 18, and his Strength is 17 - this means that Kalar can reach 20th Level as a Cleric, and 19th Level as a Fighter.