A feat of integration

In my Basic Fantasy game I’m going to give fighters (and only fighters) feats on the same schedule as fighter bonus feats in Type III. As someone who has played fighters more than all other classes combined (at least, I suspect I have, and human fighters at that) I read with interest the preview article in Dragon 270 that introduced feats.

To make fighters more interesting without sacrificing the simplicity that aids new players, the designers made fighters masters of the feat.

There is a good idea there, but they screwed it up. They gave everyone feats. There is no reason to give everyone feats. Other classes had their own niche skills such as spells or stealth abilities. Yet, they still got combat progression and if magic-users were a tad fraigle for front like fighting clerics certainly weren’t. One way to fix this social imbalance is to prevent the other classes from advancing in combat ability. This is the route taken by Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying Game and it has been routinely praised for it.

The other route I’ve seen taken around the OSR is some form of fighter options. Sword & Board, a supplement for BFRPG has them in the form of fighter professions, one taken at creation and another at name level. These range from various bonuses to AC, damage, to hit, and so on depending on circumstance to the ability to use magic user scrolls. Delta’s Original Edition Delta includes a dozen fighter feats to be selected one every fourth level starting at fourth. They are about on par with the weakest of the S&B ones. I even reviewed a product that added them to weapons proficiencies. Clearly, the idea of feats as a form of fighter customization has caught on in the OSR at least a little.

The biggest complaint I hear about feats is “they limit what you can do, why can’t anyone try to cut through an orc so much it carries to the next one.” Looking back at the original conception of feats gives a bit of explanation:

Unlike skills, feats always work because they’re bonuses, not abilities. For example, the Dodge feat lets you designate one opponent against whom your character gains a +1 bonus to Armor class. You don’t have to roll for success; you just add the bonus

Had feats stuck to this system instead of the splatbook business model monster they became I doubt we’d have the “but they limit what you can do argument.” The explanation also gives a clue as to how to avoid that problem. For people with feats the bonus is automatic. Want to try to dodge when you don’t have the feat. Well, my a DEX roll and if you pass you get it but if you fail you lose you action this round as you stumble around. Everyone can try it, but someone who is good at it does it automatically without risk of penalty.

The reason I’m just using out of the box OGL feats is two fold. First, it’s just easy to get a huge selection easily and even free. This means I can add it without much creativity except integrating what players choose. Second, consider it a fig leaf to players of newer editions who try my games. Their fighters will still get a bit of flair and they’ll be exposed to one of the great things about the OSR: you can do what you want with it. I’ll even find ways to use non-combat feats if they want them.

Come Out And Play

Starting this coming Wednesday, January 18, 2012, I’ll be coming out to Gigabites Cafe in Marietta, Georgia to run a FLAILSNAILS game using Basic Fantasy Roleplaying as my home rules set (or as I like to call it, Intermediate D&D).

Start Time: 7:30pm
End Time: 11:00pm at the latest (it’s when they close).

I’ll have a sign so you can find me. I’ll have pregens if you need them. I’m happy to teach and according to at least one person at the local D&D meetup my games are very newbie/haven’t played in a while friendly (so bring your SO and/or kids).

And now, some inspiration video because fucking flailsnails.

Adding a Luck Stat to Classic D&D

This is inspired by Jeff Reint’s notes on playing Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. The idea is luck should be a fluid stat whose effects vary over time.

When you create a character roll a seventh stat, Luck, on 3d6. Even if you use alternate methods for the main six leave Luck at 3d6 because it will change quite a bit. Luck provides an adjustment according to the following table:

Luck stat Adjustment
4-5 -2
6-8 -1
9-12 0
13-15 +1
16-17 +2
18 +3

Before each session each player rolls on the luck effect table. This determines what his luck adjustments affects for that session. I recommend making little fold down cards or clips for your DM screen so you don’t forget when luck goes wrong.

Percentile Roll This session’s luck effect
01-10 Add luck adjustment to all rolls to hit you
11-20 Add luck adjustment to all damage done to you
21-30 Add luck adjustment to all damage rolls
31-40 Add luck adjustment to all to reaction rolls
41-50 Add luck adjustment to all to hit rolls
51-60 Add luck adjustment to saves against poison/death ray
61-70 Add luck adjustment to monster moral
71-80 Add luck adjustment to saves against magic wand, magic spell, or magic staff
81-90 Add luck adjustment to saves against turn to stone, paralysis, or dragon breath
91-00 Add luck adjustment to hireling moral

If you roll doubles on the luck adjustment roll to see if your fortune has changed:

D10 Roll Change in fortune
1 Reversal of fortune: New luck is equal to 21 minus your old luck
2 Falling fortune: New luck is equal to the average of you old luck and 3 rounded down
3-4 Waning fortune: New luck is equal to the average of you old luck and 10 rounded down
5-6 No change in fortune
7-8 Waxing fortune: New luck is equal to the average of you old luck and 12 rounded up
9 Fortune’s favor: New luck is equal to the average of you old luck and 1 rounded up
10 Reversal of fortune: New luck is equal to 21 minus your old luck

Intermediate Dungeons and Dragons

So, I finally settled on a system for Swords of the Red Sun, the classic D&D game I’m trying to get going.

I choose Basic Fantasy Roleplaying after seriously considering Rules Cyclopedia. The list of pluses and minus is interesting but BFRP had two things that made the choice.

One was players can order a new hard copy for the same price as a used copy of the Rules Cyclopedia. Actually, BFRP is $20 and RC runs $30 on eBay.

However, the other thing is BFRP is actually closer to the D&D I played than any printed version under the D&D label or the other two major simulacrum games. It is essentially BD&D without character races as discrete classes.

Which probably describes my AD&D1 games from 1979-1985 (junior high and high school) more than anything else. We used the PHB and the charts in the DMG but the actual rules were out of Holmes and B/X. No concept of segments, D6 initiative, and so on.

Looking back I’d have to say I’ve never played AD&D, just BD&D and, for lack of a better term, a hybrid I’ll call Intermediate Dungeons & Dragons.