terça-feira, 25 de setembro de 2018

Rules Musings: Complex Actions (testing two attributes at once)

Collateral Effects and Rider Clauses

All this thinking about extracting additional layers of meaning from a roll has wormed its way pretty deep under the skin. This time, however, the thinking’s directed toward much more sane and practical applications.

I’ve always been fond of the classic attribute testing mechanic of “roll equal or under a stat”, if for nothing else because it allowed better differentiation between characters. Bearing Dexterity 15 really was different from Dexterity 14, rather than a player being condemned to beat all those nonconformist numbers on the charsheet into round shapes, so as to squeeze the most modifier juice from out of them.

Now, I admit calculating “roll under attribute minus two” rather than a straight up DC can be fiddly and I wouldn’t want to return to it. But there are other ways and more things to consider than first meets the eye.

Picture a basic d20 roll, for any given task. Now, in your mind’s eye, muddle that task, making it complex or made amid other weighty or even dangerous conditions, maybe a character is firing a bow from horseback or fighting on treacherous footing, things that cannot be fully explained by just *one* of the character’s attributes. This sets the stage for the referee to ask for a dual purpose roll, one made to beat a DC while simultaneously being equal or under one of the character’s attributes.

The prize to be aimed for, of course, cannot be for success or failure, as that’s what the original target number is already gauging and such would unduly shrink the window for success, oftentimes shutting it completely and rendering the task impossible. But there are plenty of collateral rider clauses that can be affixed to a roll on a given complex action. For a referee who wants to clamp down on excessive rolls, this can come into its own as an unobtrusive way to account for things like terrain hazards or other effects that avoid or produce secondary consequences not meriting a roll by themselves. If tactfully applied, it could mean plenty of design space opened and potentially a few rolls saved.

Liner Notes

It doesn’t necessarily matter if the original roll succeeds or not in order to activate a collateral effect. An attack can hit plenty hard and still have as consequence the agressor slipping and falling into the mud from lack of footing.

The “secondary” attribute can perfectly well be the same one fuelling the primary roll. Such is completely immaterial to the mechanic at hand.

This post does not in any way account for skills, which at the end of the day are just another numeric modifier layered atop attribute checks, so it should be fine.

Lastly and most importantly: if the character has any notion of what he’s getting into, then the player likewise must be given a clear warning of any acessory consequences in advance of rolling. Many of the collaterals could turn out important enough to warrant the player procuring some alternative or passing up on making the roll entirely.´

Leading from the rearguard - theoretical examples

Here are some examples of what is being suggested:

Roll under Strength  – For martial uses, most naturally, or for occasions where strength may falter, despite the main task itself possibly being delicate.

- A character is hanging from a rope, ledge or rock face while engaged in combat or taking some other distracting non-climbing action, such as rifling through the inventory or picking a window latch while suspended. The referee warns that if the roll, attack or otherwise, exceeds the character’s Strength this will result in his hold slipping and him plunging down (or a save being called to avoid such a fate).

- The protagonist squares off against a beastie with a hardened shell that only brute force can bypass, integrated into the thing’s stat-block comes the rider clause: the creature will take only half damage unless the blow is rolled under an attacker’s Strength.

Roll under Dexterity – For when performing complex tasks that also require a steady hand, ranged precision or balance.

- As interaction with a terrain hazard, it can be ruled that while fighting over an area of slippery surface any attack roll that exceeds the striker’s Dexterity will mean that character falls onto the floor.

- A mounted character attempting a missile attack while riding can be required to make the attack roll under the  Dexterity score, on pain of a confirmation roll being called for.

Roll under Constitution – Physical resilience as part of ongoing action, of course. What follows are some very prosaic examples, but thoughts around how to better streamline exhaustion mechanics were the seeds from which this whole idea sprouted.

- As a character does something physically demanding, the referee indicates a point (preferably defined by the rules) past which exhaustion taking its toll becomes a possibility. Every roll thereupon starts being measured against the Constitution score, signaling that the character succumbs to exhaustion if it is exceeded (or, for the more roll-intensive approach, triggering a CON save against the condition).

- Engaging in combat amid the swirling of a fire’s noxious fumes can imply that each roll also be compared to the characters’ Constitution, with every roll that exceeds deducting hit points.

Roll under Intelligence – Situations requiring memory or mental processes of reasoning, assimilation and problem-solving apart from the main task.

- While disarming a trap or picking a lock, as a standard Dexterity check is called for, the character’s Intelligence can be called into action to model the failure tolerance: should the Dex check fail, the character can try again to tackle the mechanism as long as his roll was equal to or under his Intelligence. If it exceeds it, the mechanism is determined to be beyond the character’s ability.

- Crafting, meditating, training or any other form of prolonged effort can yield additional tiers of secondary rewards triggered by succeeding while rolling under the Intelligence stat.

Roll under Wisdom – Also dealing with mental processes, but focused more on mundane experience and sensorial aspects rather than cold logic.

- When conducting a verbal probe for information through idle banter – which is to say, a Charisma roll – rolling under Wisdom can be used both for triggering positive collaterals (even if failure occurs in extracting the information the character desires, the mark can be kept talking as long as the player rolls under his Wisdom total) or flagging negative ones (if the character’s effort fails and rolls in excess of his Wisdom he unwittingly raises suspicions as to his motives).

- For sensorial collateral riders: a clean lockpicking attempt that doesn’t leave any traces of a break-in might require both the successful DEX check as well as rolling equal or under Wisdom. Same for tracking quarry in the outdoors without simultaneously leaving a trail oneself.

Roll under Charisma – Dealing with actions with accessory needs in terms of persuasion, courage or showmanship.

- Of a character that has already fallen prey to intimidation it might then be required that all of his rolled actions and attacks against the creature causing the condition thenceforth be rolled under his Charisma, lest he succumb to fear and a confirmation roll become necessary.

- While squaring off with a merchant over prices (contested Charisma rolls), pass or fail, as long as the character also keeps on rolling under his Charisma, the other party won’t shut down additional haggling attempts by making the current offer the final one.

Closing Thoughts

I’ve just whipped these up within an hour, it is natural that some will work out better in practice than others. But even with experience I’m thinking inventing these in the spur of the moment would be a bit taxing, not to mention uneven in quality so its use might work best if they’re laid out ahead of time on a terrain’s hazard key, a creature’s stat block or, in a more encompassing fashion for certain cases, codified into the general table rules themselves.

As the reader will doubtlessly notice, this mechanic can contextually substitute for Advantage and Disadvantage (by granting or demanding confirmation rolls) or to a given extent work alongside with them, though being a step in the direction of the complexity that their inception was aimed at mitigating. Also, the mechanic can in some cases fill the same design space as the ‘degrees of failure’ method (failing or passing a check by 5 or more bringing about consequences), but it isn’t strictly the same thing, as it keys on a fixed number diverse from the d20 roll itself, again meaning both mechanics can be used in conjunction.

What does set it apart is that it engages more than one part of the charsheet, which is something I like as it breaks away from the specialized character mold, insomuch as the character with the better chances for primary success won’t necessarily be the one best suited to activate or prevent the collateral consequences. The harder hitting fighter can have the weaker footwork, after all.

quarta-feira, 19 de setembro de 2018

Into the Wild – II: If on a Summer’s Day a Caravan…

Into the Wild is a rubric dedicated to speculative mechanic ideas relating to wilderness exploration.

In the wake of my byzantine weather generation tables based on playing around with small die pools and from them extracting several layers of information my addled thoughts occasionally dwelled there still, rather than on the task of actually getting my shit together, running a game and putting the preaching to the practicing.

If you came around expecting to find a bountiful selection of colourful characters of the trader persuasion with wich to people your stories, know that the tale of the half-genasi-half-crab-half-centaur-former-spy-turned-sex-machine-of-the-realms will have to be a tale for some other time. I’m here to talk about market scarcity mechanics. *vynil scratch*

I know I should just let this go like some ice princess rather than drive this blog once again into an expedition to the peaks of self-indulgence (I’ve got this cabin there, you see..) but, no matter how dismally unexciting the topic, once the brain gears get stuck purging comes as the only remedy known to me so this exflux will be dedicated to whoever can care for seeing a sad pony up to nothing new.

The presentation of a Problem (or the “why even bother?” factor)

People (well, me) talk a big game about wanting their wilderness exploration to mean something other than a hoof-handed shift in the soundtrack and encounter tables. Yet, despite painting myself as adhering to a refereeing philosophy of attaining a meatier, more fulfilling game by conjuring a range of problems spanning beyond opposing bags of Hp what follows can seem a bit unnecessary – excessive, even.

As the layering of rules excreta kept piling on and on this became less of a coherent post and more of a fever dream. To try and combat this I’ve parcelled the mechanics into semi-independent modules that can be used all at once or picked to preference. Even if it doesn’t all quite stand on its own, I consider that here it is important not to be correct but to raise questions and that despite the post’s skipping off the deep end coasting on disposable mechanics I’m hoping the thinking behind it may yet salvage the price of admission.

Blazing beyond the pale of civilization is represented by a few defining traits, past the tired variation in encounterable danger, these being Distance, Obstacles, Depletion and Scarcity. How to best represent and weave together these elements in an effective manner is the comet tail this series chases. What follows is essentially a problem generator relating to Scarcity, a practical measure of impressing distance and removal from civilization upon players more than anything else: once the comforts of civilization are left behind, trading interactions start becoming difficult and less rewarding.

From the Plentiful City into the Wilderlands of Singular Equine Townships

Here’s a little personal anecdote which may or may not resonate with the reader: I’ve never seen a character run out of arrows. Or perishables of any kind, for that matter. Not even close. Think about what that says about a game’s tone and of layers left unexplored. Come market time, the natural refereeing answer to the question “what’s here that our coin can purchase?” will tend usually to be “whatever’s on the equipment page”, in a quantity subtly expressed as “however many you can manage to carry” (which, provided you’re running a functional encumbrance system, already represents a step above the previous answer of “as many as you can afford”), this will then perhaps be punctuated by the occasional GM-planned limitations for dramatic purposes, if even that.

To a given extent I stand in agreement: in an urban environment characters can acquire their supplies with characteristic ease. Prices are conveniently tabled for the whole city limits if need be and shortages or lack of quality are certainly not an issue anyone sane would want to quibble over. It is typically a very smooth, very relaxed time in a running, when players get out the abacus and bean count to their heart's content. Even if sometimes strumming an unrealistic chord, urban shopping situations are well served by saying that the heavens did part and rain down all those perishables and equipment at the party’s feet and that the characters are free to claim their choices and deduct charges accordingly, with the lot of it being of a standard, nigh-uniform grade of quality. The rules are simple: if they want it, they got it. Pretty much the whole span of mundane tools and equipment are available past the barrier of an asking price.

But then, when trying to arm a retinue or a militia or scare up supplies for an impromptu expedition while removed from the heartland of civilization, a wandering merchant caravan is encountered, a ragtag band of smugglers is chanced upon or maybe market day is at hand on a town sighted in the distance by the party. How to procedurally generate what will be there to be had? Will the characters be able to find serviceable gear or will they have to settle with second or third rate run-off? Will they be able to sell their plunder?

Far from having all the answers, I do wish to go a little further in promoting a table actionable idea of scarcity. One that doesn’t hinge on spawning comprehensive market inventories ahead of time or a complete trade system with different regional equipment prices and restrictions, as such would require cheating with software and more ambition than I can conceive of mustering.

The point of this post is playing up this divide between civilization and the absence of it. When I speak above of setting apart the city, I really do mean a city – a production hub, an important trade crossroads or a sizable port. Remote outposts, rustic market squares, neglected storehouses and dingy mule caravans all ought to be faced as but dim expressions of the civilizational effort insomuch as they cling to the same abiding truth: by resorting to them, a character won’t always get what he wants, how he wants it or at a desirable price. If a character’s unhappy with the tapered lump of rust that the grubby merchant is saying passes for a shortsword, his one option is to go without, not to shrug it off and storm to the next ‘smith two doors over.

On generating a Market or Caravan

The questions wanting for answers in a market procedural generator:

- What is on offer?

- How much of it?

- Of what quality grade?

- At what price?

The generator that follows is bound to be a far cry from the complete answer. Liberal amounts of context-dependent adjudication are still required and the system has severe limitations, as would inevitably be the case for modelling so many complex variables and reducing them to a practical handful of rolls. By laying the categorization and rarity of objects and materials at the feet of the referee we are of course only substituting one layer of arbitrariness for another. It then being desirable that the worldbuilder burrow down further still, so as to pour some sort of in-setting rhyme and geographic reason into the results.

The system is designed with small-scale operations in mind, from a single camel or oxen team up to the odd hundred beasts of burden as the upper limit. If a caravan is so huge as to become a veritable mounted grand bazaar, there will be little point in talking about scarcity, although the system can be lent to partial use for rarer items amid an otherwise placcid sea of abundance.

The Crunch

At its most basic, the system is composed of two types of rolls:

- An initial roll of multiple d6, supported by two tables for the caravan’s loadout;

- Several 2d6+variable die, consulting one table for individual purchases;

Basic precepts for using the system:

1. Yielded results must be noted down, progressively unraveling a caravan’s usable contents (and avoiding duplicate results for something already requested).

2. Minimizing the number of rolls is a practical necessity. A single roll should be extrapolated to cover a broad swathe of items, modifying the rarity interpretations as needed, making new a roll only once the first is exhausted or a distinctly different category of objects is requested for.

3. The simplified nature of a system made for encountering small caravans and markets on far-flung places in the wild dictates that the quantities of Rare and Uncommon objects can never exceed five items. It is important to take this into account when adjudicating the rarity of goods, if you think an item should be available in greater quantities.

4. Smaller/agglomerate items (nails, ammunition, marbles, etc.) are sold by the slotsworth.

5. The rolls made represent things that the sellers are willing to part with, past which a caravan will still be equipped with a senseful amount of market-bound cargo, rations and feed set aside for its own travel needs.

The Merchant Caravan

A. Number Encountered: minimum d6, increasing the number of d6s for larger caravans (includes a minimum crew of three, plus two handlers per additional d6).

A.1 Caravan Composition: Roll the dice pool for “number appearing” on the caravan drop table below to generate the cargo contents and persons of interest present in the caravan. Those wishing to do without the die dropping can instead sequentially read the pool of d6s from left to right, and then from top to bottom to input on the table matrix. These are generic  descriptors that should be fleshed out or modified based on the actual location where the caravan encounter takes place as well as the realities of the setting at large.

Make Table Great Again

Artisans: Specialists travelling alongside or retained by the caravan. Each one rolled adds a +1 bonus to the quality rolls of related wares. Their presence also increases the buyback price on related items sold by the party by 25% (up from an assumed baseline of 10-25%).

Raw Materials/Processed Goods/Exotic Goods: The main bulk of whatever the caravan is carrying is hereby determined, the nature of the cargo then informs the referee on the relative rarity of what is to be up for barter. If no entries of this type are rolled, apply the lefmost d6 rolled to Exotic Goods and call it a smuggling operation.

Weapons: An important concession to the realities of a game of DnD. Only the rightmost entry rolled in this category is counted, as it indicates the most advanced type of weapons that are potentially available for purchase.

Special: Caravan followers and hangers-on, the place to inject local colour and all manner of useful NPCs. The die rolled on the drop table can indicate level for single individuals and/or number appearing for groups such as explorer parties and guards.

A.2 Caravan Stock: Quantitatively speaking, how rich the loadout is on this particular convoy. Of the d6s rolled for number encountered, select the three highest results and apply their sum to the following table:

A.3 Purchase Rolls Counter: All the above details having been jotted down and either openly exposed or adequately relayed to the players through some choice purplish-hued prose, gather up the rolled totals and use them as a counter. The party will be entitled to these many purchase rolls before the caravan is considered exhausted of supplies useful to a group of explorers and won’t part with anything else. This abstracts the whole thing into more of a mini-game but is included as an optional way to impose a cut-off point and prevent ad nauseum rolling.

Market/Purchase Rolls

Once the specifics of the caravan have been determined, rather than being handed a list of items players will take turns searching for wares. These won’t all be on display especially if the party chances upon the caravan in transit, but a trader will know at least roughly what he does have and where it is being stowed, granted a little time to search about.

B. Item Availability (2d6 + caravan’s stock die minus scarcity modifier)

The referee makes an occluded roll consisting of 2d6 plus the quantity die derived from the caravan’s stock. From this single roll, four simple and distinct quantity readings can be extracted, each then downgraded by the scarcity modifier also inherent to the caravan’s size, these being:

- Mundane items: Sum of the three dice rolled.

- Common items: Highest roll

- Uncommon items: Middling roll

- Rare items: Lowest roll

Players are encouraged to bundle their requests concerning related items, so as to save on rolling.  If they successively ask for two different items of the same rarity either use the same reading to save time or make a new roll, adjusting the number of purchase rolls left if you do.

The adjudication part comes as the referee must decide what rarity to attribute to each item. As it is not possible to reduce gut feeling to rules, here are some guidelines:

- Whatever cargo the caravan is carrying will rank as mundane, as will anything related to it (e.g. horseshoes, reins and bits, saddles and saddlebags on a caravan containing horses);

- Basic consumables such as rations, torches and water are mundane;

- General use tools and other sundry supplies (ropes, 10’ poles, lamps, iron spikes) will rank as common;

- If the relevant entry's been rolled to indicate any are for sale, simple weapons will be mundane or common, martial weapons will be common to uncommon, ranged weapons will be one step rarer than their melee counterparts;

- If present, the different classes of armour will be common, uncommon and rare respectively.

B.1 Item Quality (2d6 portion of the purchase roll)

A quality roll, derived from reading just the 2d6 portion of the purchase roll like any old reaction roll, will tell if the items returned are well or ill made. The downward slant of the sample tables was made to enforce the perspective that it is easier to craft something subpar than above average, though it can certainly bear adjustments. In the vein of the samples included below, most any significant item can have its bulk, sturdiness and numeric properties affected by quality to a representable degree.

- Consult or create a table for the rolled item and simply add the appropriate descriptive as a prefix to the item’s name on the inventory.

B.2 Quality Grading/Dispersion

The function I’m calling quality dispersion comes as a means to impress that in more primitive societies standardisation would be by itself pretty much a minor display of magic.

A quality reading will typically be distributed as follows:

- The lowest roll will be the number of objects actually conforming to the rolled quality.

- The middle roll will represent the number of objects of a quality grade one step lower than the one rolled.

- The high roll will represent objects of two quality grades lower than the one rolled.

B.3 Item Pricing

Provided you accept that the “being surprised by one’s own dice” effect has extra pull here, then just as the previous logic gave us quantity and quality, so it can do for price, based on a handy reversion of the dice pool’s four readings:

- The referee decides whether an object’s contextual or inherent value is measured in copper/silver/gold or, for a direct barter, in whatever thing conforms to the NPC’s needs. As the quality grading shifts it may be appropriate to halve or double the price tag accordingly.

- If the object is rare, use the summed total of the three dice as price, if uncommon use the highest roll, if common use the middle result and if mundane use the lowest roll.

- Alternatively, if social combat, reaction rolls or haggling in funny accents are your thing you can instead set one of the interpretations as the initial asking price and then use the remaining three readings as the cornerstones of an “unfavourable/satisfactory/favourable” haggling subsystem.

Granting that some nonsensical results are bound to crop up, the items’ quality does reflect on the price and it can be rewarding to see the dice allow the PCs to score the occasional juicy bargain. On the other hand, economically speaking, it does not necessarily square well how the rising and lowering of the quantity die may potentially raise or sink some of the prices. Either adjust and compensate by asking for a higher or lower value of currency or let it roll with the argument that a caravan of wandering losers can’t be choosers whereas large enterprises can set prices on their own terms.

Some Totally-Not-Doctored Examples

Caravan Composition

Say, for example, the party comes across a 2d6 caravan, as dictated by random encounter roll or otherwise. The number encountered/stock roll comes at 9, meaning a stock die of d10 and a scarcity modifier of -2. Relevantly, the cargo category includes martial weapons.

Quantity & Quality

After asking for the party's weaponry needs and taking a number of purchase requests including spears, daggers, longswords and heavy crossbows the 2d6+d10 (-2) is rolled by the referee and returns: 2,5 & 10.

Since it has been determined that spears are common we go for the high roll, that shows that there are (10-2): eight spears somewhere among the stocks of this caravan. Of these, two conform to the rolled quality of 7 (standard), five are fragile spears and the remaining one is of downright inferior grade.

Daggers too are weapons much in the vein of spears but the referee decides in a pique of papal infallibility that, with them being traditionally tools of multifarious purpose, they are to be counted as mundane. This means they will be counted as (17-2) fifteen in number and, following the same dispersion of quality as above, among these we’ve got two serviceable daggers, five fragile ones and a runoff of eight inferior ones.

Longswords, being rated uncommon, are numbered as three (middle roll minus scarcity mod). Two of which are hot to trot and the remaining one being less sturdy.

Finally, no exemplar of the decidedly rare heavy crossbow is to be found on this caravan (lowest roll minus scarcity mod).


Spears are common weapons requiring a modicum of crafting effort, the referee values them with the setting’s go-to standard of silver piece. As they are common we go for the middle roll: 5 silver coins apiece.

The posited daggers, despite being mundane, are valued equally as silver piece items. Their price conforms to the lowest roll meaning they're only 2 silver pieces each.

Longswords are a much more prestigious object. The item is valued at gold, which with them dubbed as uncommon means they’ll go for 10 gold pieces each, a hefty purchase. The player might latch instead onto the lesser quality one in the back, valued at 5 gold but less sturdy (d6 breakage die rather than d8).

segunda-feira, 20 de agosto de 2018

General Rules - Cutting Loose (NPC Dismemberment Table)


Smothering heatwaves capped by icy sheets of writer’s block, along with the hardware’s lacking heat dissipation all conspire to keep me from mounting the saddle of escapism anew. Here’s some dry hay that I've been slowly chewing through as momentum is regained for meatier posts.

Back when I proposed integrating the Dismemberment Table into the effects for Critical Hits I pretty much bound myself to return and make a usable, table-friendly adaptation of it. Although it was completely deliberate that certain results be lackluster effect-wise, that not every critical hit would instantly default to a dismemberment attempt, the table, in its 3d6 incarnation, stubborn and unwieldily remained very much a Player Character’s tool. High time that this be changed.

Piggies gone to the market

It is emphatically not desirable that a game’s running be bogged down with the minutia of tallying NPC temporary Hps or levels of exhaustion (ideally a solely player-facing mechanic) or of deciding which eye or of how many teeth the enemy’s been relieved of, as these details are simpy not important enough to spend processing power over. Instead, an appropriately abbreviated version of the table ought to be used when dealing with beasties. If an NPC happens to get marked for the greatness of dying in more convoluted ways than normal then, sure enough, the 3d6 version can be dusted off.

As usual with these iterative kind of mechanic proposals, the thought exercise alone proves useful if nothing else, as the necessity to compress effects into both less space and lower mechanic overhead turns up things that can be of value for running a lighter, tidier game. It also gets me to wonder anew about the divide in complexity between player-facing and DM-facing mechanics and the border markers ideally alotted to each.

Design pointers for a smoother dismemberment experience:

- No tracking of anything past Hp and rolled conditions (i.e. no accumulating exhaustion or gaining of tHps).

- Get rid of complex lingering conditions (i.e. anything requiring tracking beyond one simple pass/fail check).

- Reduce the entries' content to the strictly game-relevant, exceptions to be determined should the need ever arise. Rather that load down the descriptors, what is to be thrust into evidence are the combat-relevant effects, it being assumed that despite certain results not being immediately lethal and with the enemy being kept in the fight, once a confrontation winds down and the accompanying veneer of chemical counterweights is washed away most creatures simply won’t resist much longer without medical ministration or clerical miracle-working.

As the dust cleared, it became all too apparent how tautly stretched and distented the table had been for the sake of lowering its lethality for player characters. Reworking this for the unwashed NPC proletariat meant I could afford to be a lot more cavalier with lethal or debilitating effects and the odds thereof.

The Crunchy Bits

- As before, a Critical Hit is needed to trigger a roll on the table below and the Wounded condition means the creature has Disadvantage (or is required to pass a save) on pretty much everything the least bit physical.

- The remaining considerations that can be gleaned from this post are still very much en vogue.

The Table

Adrenaline Rushed version

terça-feira, 17 de julho de 2018

Set and Setting - IV - Feat Acquisition and Elfsploitation


From coalescing some thoughts on how to manage levelling and feat acquisition to half-assing a list of racial feats, this post does it all.


Accessorizing is important.

The process of levelling, as per the book, is much too calcified around unexciting numerical increases, every other level offering something amounting to a tired ol’+1 modifier, an enhanced number of uses on an already-unlocked feature or a feat whose parenthood has been thoroughly planned, all this made the worse by the premapped nature of the advancement pattern, which lends the whole package to optimization and builds, not to mention boredom. 

More interesting class progressions are a goal that is well served by sweeping aside the more monotonous aspects and injecting some spanish inquisition. Not content that the feats themselves be random, so too should be the instance of their acquisition, the better to contrast with the remaining class structure. I don’t really aim all of my steps to deliberately spite the fair-and-balanced point-buy paradigm, but boy do my feet ever find themselves repeatedly planted all over those lego pieces.

For those to whom the numbers are much too important, taking as given that we’re rolling for stats and Hp already, adding one more layer of variability will mean that to end up with a truly irredeemable character will be even more difficult, and the mechanic is also meant to implicitly add a convergence effect, so that the weaker characters will have an easier time upping their scores and earning their ticket out of suckdom.


To accordingly supplement the last post, the table had entries pointing to feats afforded by the player character’s race. I meant to use that design space to store certain capabilities of more or less apocryphal nature which I feel ought to manifest rarely and that would altogether unbalance or simply overburden the race profiles if used as standard features.

I pondered doing the same for “class feats” and for the longest time the 95-to-100 slot was filled with precisely that designation. The more I thought about it, though, the less sense it made. Classes are not really about waxing whimsical, rather more about structured and reliable abilities. And since I’d like for my revised classes to have something new to offer at most every level, I folded back that line of thinking.

It is useful that this embedded feat table approach affords me the space to add playable races to a setting roster at a later point, if I’m ever up for misguidingly notching up complexity for the sake of diminishing returns, something that I’m prone to do, so might as well clear the road of debris before the fact.

These following feats are about supernatural atavism and stark displays of a race’s underlying thematic. Men are extraversatile, Half-men are extra shifty, Dwarves are extra tough, Elves are extra snowflakey/better than you and Gnomes are extra magicky. Many of these are also utter bullshit, but I know I’ll get away with it because I took the care to warn you in advance.

The Crunch

— Whenever a character levels up the player rolls a d20 and chooses one among the applicable effects:

a) If the result is higher than any of the character’s attributes, the player may raise one of these scores by one. A given attribute score may not be increased twice in a row.

b) If the result is lower than the character’s level, the player may make a roll on the feat table.

Alternatively, the player may forgo the d20 roll to re-roll that level’s HD instead, the second result must stand.

The Racial Feats 

Racial Feats – Man
1.     Roll a second d20 every time you level. You still only get to choose one effect.
2.     Gain two extra uses on a class feature with limited uses.
3.     Roll twice on the mundane feat table.
4.     Choose any feat from the mundane table.
5.     You may multiclass.
6.     Acquire a feature from another class or subclass, up to a level below your proficiency modifier.

Racial Feats – Half-man
1.     May Hide as a bonus action.
2.     You can burrow into soft ground and have Advantage when digging.
3.     You can take Disadvantage to all rolls until the end of next turn to be able to Dodge as a bonus action.
4.     Can Disengage as bonus action.
5.     You gain +1 to AC against melee attacks per every size difference of the attacker.
6.     You don’t provoke opportunity attacks from large-sized (or larger) creatures. Avoid all incidental damage.

Racial Feats – Dwarf
1.    May roll on the Dismemberment table with 4d6 instead of 3d6; Advantage on Death Saving Throws.
2.    Rooted: While you don’t move and both your feet touch the ground you get a save against attempts to push, disarm or render you Prone.
3.      Can sniff precious metals (20’ radius, 10 mins, concentration).
4.      Resistant to Arcane Magic.
5.    Stone skin. Non-bludgeoning weapons can break or dull when you’re struck (attack rolls under CON mod).
6.   Gain proficiency with smith’s tools. Can forge or reforge metal weapons every level, granting or increasing enchantment by +1 a number of times equalling proficiency.

Racial Feats – Elf
1.     Your melee attacks always count as magical and their damage cannot be resisted.
2.     Your base number of attacks equals your proficiency bonus and you never drop your weapon from fumbling. Lose any feature granting accuracy or additional attacks.
3.   You don’t provoke attacks of opportunity. Your Dexterity saves against damage prevent all on a success and half on a miss and you may parry ranged attacks.
4.     Ignore all mundane difficult terrain and leave no scent or tracks. You are less likely to trigger traps.
5.     Roll a feat, receiving the improved version, as though you had rolled that result twice.
6.     Your Proficiency range is +3 to +7.

Racial Feats – Gnome
1.     Items magically resize to fit you while in your possession.
2.   Once per day, you can enlarge or shrink (but not your possessions) up to two size categories, shift lasts until a ‘1’ is rolled on the proficiency die, checked every minute.
3.     Your can attempt to Hide in the open (with Disadvantage).
4.    Odd copper pieces inexplicably find their way to you and you always find additional coins (proficiency die) on treasure troves, type as per most abundant on cache.
5.     You become Invisible as long as your eyes are closed.
6.     Once per running, you can turn a small object into red gold (worth Proficiency die gp).