Posted by : David Guyll February 08, 2016

Though FrankenFourth is based on various parts of various editions of Dungeons & Dragons, when it comes to armor it uses a model similar to that of Dungeon World, Numenera, and I'm sure many other games: armor reduces the damage you take when an attack connects (while shields prevent you from getting hit at all).

Currently armor ratings range from 1 (leather) to 5 (plate), though we might end up reducing the range to 1-3, and go with a more abstract light, medium, and heavy categorization. As with older editions of Dungeons & Dragons, no class starts with chainmail or plate armor: it's something you save up to buy, or maybe loot.

I should note that, similar to how a creature in Dungeons & Dragons always inflicts at least one point of damage on a hit regardless of damage penalties, a successful attack always inflicts at least one point of damage regardless of armor. This way, you can't just slap on plate armor and heedlessly saunter through a gang of goblins.

Also, some attacks ignore a point or two of armor, while others ignore it completely (like fire and poisonous gases).

Armor Class gets dropped entirely in favor of a Reflex Defense (or just Reflex), which as with 4th Edition is 10 + your Dexterity or Intelligence, whichever is higher (though it might get changed to just be 10 + Dexterity, with some classes potentially allowing you to substitute other stats).

This means that most characters will have a Reflex of around 9-12, with more specialized characters having a starting Reflex of 13 and rarely 14. This may not seem like much, until you realize that most of the numbers are based almost entirely on ability scores, as opposed to ability scores plus Hit Dice or levels or whatever, so the typical monster only has a +2 to +4 to hit (with your typical dragon having a whopping +8 to hit).

Shields increase your Reflex by 1 point, while tower shields bump it up by 2 at the cost of reducing your Speed and maximum Dexterity/Intelligence bonus. Fighters and other melee types can choose a talent that negates Speed penalties for tower shields and armor, as well as further boosting their Reflex when they're packing a shield, which helps put them more on par with agile characters.

Most creatures have both Wound and Vitality Points (creatures like constructs and mindless undead will normally only have Wounds): Wound Points represent the meat-point part of the equation, while Vitality is the exertion, luck, minor scrapes, etc.

Wound Points replenish over the course of days: each time you take a long rest (6+ hours) you regain an amount equal to your Constitution, to a minimum of 1. This rate is affected by your environment (warm, comfy inns are better than cold, hard dungeon floors), supplies (like poultices and salves), and certain class talents (cleric's Healing Hymn and the fighter's Unbreakable). The game also has lingering injuries, which you likewise recover from sooner in the right conditions.

Vitality Points on the other hand replenish much more quickly. We're playtesting two models: the first is that they completely recover with a short rest (which requires 30 minutes), the other is that when you take a short rest you regain a random amount based on your class (think Hit Dice from older editions) and relevant talents.

Inside a dungeon, assuming you're using random encounters, this means every short rest is going to likely call for at least one random encounter check. So in this instance it becomes a gamble: you might regain some Vitality, only to lose it again (and possibly some Wounds) if another monster comes along while you're trying to rest.

Of course there are going to be situations where the characters really have nothing to worry about, and so can sit around as long as they want without fear of anything showing up to nom on them. This is why the Wound/Vitality split favors the former: most of your "hit points" are going to take one or more days to recover.

Even so this system makes characters a bit more durable, which is intentional due to the lack of prevalent magical healing: bards, clerics, druids, and paladins can't just throw around healing spells willy-nilly, and healing potions and wands aren't going to be looted in abundance (all of which is more inline with what you'd expect from the Appendix N library anyway).

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{ 2 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. I like what i see so far. Shield as reflex and armor class as damage reduction sounds great and it makes more sense. Vitality and wounds is something we have discussed quite a few times in the past back when I was trying to do a system and its satisfactory to see that we reached a similar conclusion.

    In regards to Vitality and Wounds perhaps you can have a healing rate where you heal x amount per 5 to 10 minutes of rest or you can go with something similar to healing surges. If you go with the latter, maybe healing potions spend healing surges and heal a bonus amount or die, that way players wont abuse healing potions.

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    1. @Victor: A healing rate for Vitality could work, as the game will assume you are using something like 2E D&D "turns" (10-20 minute blocks of time), though players of 3E D&D should also be used to having to track spell durations anyway.

      Magical healing won't be assumed, or even readily available by default. Alchemical potions can restore Wounds and Vitality, but have drawbacks (the one that restores Wounds reduces your Constitution by 1 each time you use it, which reduces your maximum Wounds for an hour or so).

      Currently clerics and druids will have magical healing, but each use of their healing abilities will cost the equivalent of 50+ gp AND require 10+ minutes to use (which means in many cases, a random encounter check).

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