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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Spellcasters as NPC only...

I was considering going this route with my homebrew. I'm not sure I will, but it led to some interesting questions. The only big issue it would cause is healing. I do not want my game to be too grim and gritty, where anyone can die from a lonely orc. I'd rather it be real swords & sorcery, where a pissed-off guy with a blade is the equal of ten guards and their necromancer boss.

The two options that occur to me would be to either make healing potions easily acquirable, or add something like the  4e second wind abilities, where you regain your hp at the end of each encounter. Both annoy me for various reasons. Too many healing potions is kind of silly, so I think that would be out. The second wind is kind of appropriate, but I feel I would need to add some kind of injury system to the game. Here's a quick one I'm thinking of:

Injury System:  You recover all hit points at the end of each encounter. If you lose 90% of your hp in one encounter, you receive an injury. This injury will cause you to have a -1 to hit penalty until you can go to a healer of some kind and receive magical healing, or you take one month to recover naturally, during which you cannot adventure. Injuries stack, so if you continue on after receiving an injury in combat, and then defeat the necromancer, but get an injury during that fight, all your to hit rolls will be at -2 until you get magically healed or take a month off.


Maroon said...

I'd allow PCs with a high intelligence to cast/memorize spells from scrolls, and perhaps also use magical libraries/laboratories to dispel hostile enchantments. I think it would nicely emulate the "bumbling apprentice" character that sometimes tags along with the hero.

If players really want to be sorcerers, I'd allow them to spent time and gold to study grimoires and hunt magic artefacts, but that's time and gold not bagging them any XP.

imredave said...

I used to play an old school game where your hit points were divided into three classes fatigue, shock, and body. Total hit points were rolled as normal but hit points roughly each equal to half your con were asigned to shock and body as well. Fatigue was rest your hit points. When you started loosing hit points you would take it off fatigue first, shock second, and body last. Fatigue hit points would all come back after 5 minutes rest, shock and body came back at the usual 1 per every other day, but if you started losing body hit points in the combat you would have to roll on the scarred for life table. In another interesting twist damage from large boulders, falling off a cliff and other such massive impacts would go directly to shock and body, bypassing fatigue all together. I really enjoyed having some hit points back quickly as it greatly cut down on standing around waiting to heal time.

Dan said...

Maroon, neat idea, but not what I'm going for. I prefer Conan to Elric.

dave, that reminds me of a few games, as well. A bit more complicated than I want.

Akrasia said...

Although I allow spellcasters in my S&W-based homebrew system (albeit using a heavily modified version of the standard spellcasting system), I also tried to come up with a system that would capture a 'S&S' feel without requiring regular magical healing. Here it is:

arcadayn said...

I ran a Rolemaster game in the Hyborian Age and only had NPC spell casters. All healing was handled via herbs and potions. Rolemaster already has a pretty extensive list of medicinal herbs that can heal every type of damage dished out in Arms Law. I ran the game for over three years and it worked pretty well. The bonus with this kind of healing is that it fosters more adventures. Some herbs are only available in particular climates, regions, or times of year. Some are also horribly addictive and/or may drain your ability scores. You can have all kinds of fun with it! ;)

frijoles junior said...

The approach I've been taking with my own, limited-to-no PC magic, Warhammer-meets-D&D-lite homebrew is inspired by what Roger the GS of Roles, Rules, and Rolls does with his One Page system (

In brief, with apologies to Roger if I'm misrepresenting, hit points are treated as a measure of confidence, with serious injury and risk of death only occurring when a character drops below zero (monsters and npcs work differently), rather like Warhammer FRP in that respect.

In true cinematic fashion, that means that our heroes can't be hurt apart from overwhelming damage or an accumulation of enough confidence-sapping near misses to push them into the danger zone. Serious wounds, if the characters are so unlucky, might take months to heal and lead to permanent disability.

A nice side effect of this is hit points can be restored in quantity by success at the end of an adventure, a nice night of carousing at the inn, a good night's rest in a warm bed, a priest laying hands on one of his faithful (regardless of the priests actual magic ability), or a rousing, Braveheart-like speech.