Gaming by Prose - Fight Smart, Fight Fast

   
Looks like you've done some careful thinking about this, it looks good! Careful attention is the secret of a well planned game.
My first impressions, take them as you will:

Mechanics
*The way you have everything set up here will require some major tweaking to the system you plan to use--if you're staying with either 4e or 3.5;
*For example, having several people in a group of differing levels will get difficult to manage. Nobody will be able to fight efficiently in the same encounter; the level 11 guy will kill everything in one hit, the level 3 guy won't be able to hit anything because his attack bonus won't be anywhere near the monster's AC, etc. You'll need to either re-write all the monster's mechanics, come up with a new combat system, or choose a different system entirely.
*Three magic items of the player's level plus three of up to three levels higher is rather unbalanced--the standard for starting characters is one magic item at level, one level +1, and one level -1, plus gold equal to one item of level -1. So a level four player will get magic items of level 3, 4, and 5, and 680 gold.
*No bookkeeping for ammunition/consumables is awesome. You'll want to watch consumables like health potions, though.

Posting
*Looks good! As I mentioned before, I think it's important to lay this out right from the start, so glad to see you're putting thought into it.
*The one question I had was about having no internal thoughts; do you mean internal dialogue? For example: I hope we find an inn soon, Rolan thought. This rain is interminable. Having such thoughts can be great for role play, because it allows players to vocalize things without having their characters do so. It adds flavour.
Or do you mean the player's thoughts? For example: "Hey guys, Rolan doesn't like the rain, so I'm just going to have him sulk for a bit until we find an inn." You're right in not including that, though such thoughts can always be put into [ooc][/ooc] or [spoiler][/spoiler] tags.

Combat/dice
*I have to admit, I'm completely lost here. So a player doesn't roll initiative--but if his attack roll hits and the monster's doesn't, the player goes first? Does that happen every round?
*You have only d10s and d6s? What about attack damage? You'll need to house rule all the different weapons if you go this way, or figure out how to make one weapon better than another; having a great axe work mechanically the same as a dagger will break the game, as nobody will need to spend proficiency feats or increase their primary stats to get a good attack bonus.
*I like the idea of having a "special moment" when you roll a crit, though. Will this replace a critical hit, or add to it? From a cinematic perspective, it's a great idea!
*Being able to roll a skill to empower your attack in the same roll is a nice idea--I can see lots of creative potential there. how will rolling a skill affect the attack though? For example, say I roll Arcana to call upon the demons of the shadowfell to empower my Warlock's Curse. How does succeeding or failing that roll affect the attack? What if I don't roll it in the first place, is my attack any less powerful?
*If you're going to eliminate social rolls, you'll want to have some specific "rules" regarding social interaction. That is, how can one succeed in a social encounter, and how does one fail? If you don't lay this out, there could be a lot of argument--who's to say my prose wasn't skillful enough, and by what standards is it judged?

All in all, I can see you've put a great deal of thought into it, which is good--I commend you for the attention you've put to this. But, i think before going further you'll want to take a step back and look at the picture as a whole.
You're changing some of the most vital parts of the game system--if you're using 3.5 or 4e or any other d20 system, that is. You're changing, by my count:

*How skills are used/rolled, including eliminating some
*How leveling and advancement works
*How Hit Points--and by extension, healing--works. (i.e. if you've got hit points by level, Healing Surges are basically useless or arbitrary.)
*Bookeeping
*Stats for attacks, weapon damage, skill bonuses, etc as they pertain to dice used--i.e. everything is d10 or d6
*How initiative works

Now having some of these changes isn't too bad--lots of games here eliminate the need to track ammunition and certain consumables, for example, and leveling "by block" rather than by XP points gained per monster killed makes things a lot simpler. But changing all of this will--no offense--break the game. It's no longer a d20 system.

However--you may want to look into something like Fate. It's a narrative based system with simple rules, and is highly customizable. There's no reason you can't take the Sword and Sorcery themes and feel of D&D and play it using this system--and it will negate the need to make this many changes. Looking at what you want to do here, I think this is the way to go, if you're willing to learn a new system.
The drawback is that you may not get as much interest, as Fate games here aren't as popular as D&D. But if you 'sell' it as D&D Rules Lite or something like that, you might get around that.

Just my $0.02.

Very helpful, tobias. Will try to address these, or if not, remove the relevant house rules:










*I like the idea of having a "special moment" when you roll a crit, though. Will this replace a critical hit, or add to it? From a cinematic perspective, it's a great idea!

Replaces crit. I am discarding crit; 'moments' give players more leeway for actions that does not need quantitative damage.









Ah, I see a bit more clearly now what you're after. In response:

Mechanics
I think I see what you're going for with levels: you want each character to bring something different to the fight, including different...let's call it proficiency. The Veteran will be better at some things, while the rookie might have an edge in something else. Building a balanced party in such a way is a god idea, as it'll keep players more interested if they each have their niche.
Is there a specific reason you want different levels, though? I still think it could be challenging. In the above example, the veteran might be the only one able to hit the minotaur's AC, so the less experienced players try other things--but the DCs for the monster will still be at the Veteran's level, and will be difficult for the rookie to match. Or, if you change some of the DCs so the rookie can hit them, why wouldn't the Veteran aim for those and have an easy kill?
As for weapons, if you want a more powerful campaign, this will work fine I think.

Combat and Dice
I see where you're going with this too, I think. You want to avoid over-complicated character builds so you can concentrate on the stories of the characters rather than the mechanics--which is the whole purpose of this exercise to begin with. That's good, as long as you're up to changing the stats for character's chosen weapons, and it seems you are. I also like the idea of giving different weapons "properties" instead of differing damage die. That will definitely give players a chance to diversify their characters, and give them a reason to go for one weapon or another while still providing flavour for their build. You might want to write up a collection of weapons for players to choose from, however, so you're not re-skinning weapons on the fly as people apply.
Also, how will magic work? I can see wonderful creative potential for magic, but that extra creativity also makes it challenging to simplify the rolls for it.

Skills
I'm liking this idea, and no problem with you using the word Empower! I think this part is something that will have to actually be playtested to work out the kinks. There are a lot of variables, and it will be hard to proscribe enough limits to make it work smoothly without first seeing how far players want to push those limits...if that makes any sense.
What you suggest for social rolls reminds me of the skill challenges in 4e, where you can roll any skill you want for the situation at hand, as long as you can give a good enough reason for doing so. I could see this working fine as long as it's laid out for players what they can and can't do. But there may be questions like "I tried something really good, why didn't it work?" Having a roll gives a clear cut success or failure...but so would having specific requirements for each encounter.

Having surges replace or grant another use of a power is a nice idea too. The surge mechanic is supposed to be an expression of the character "putting forth great effort" in a way, so that idea fits the intended purpose nicely.

As for the system, I think you're right--this will require some actual playtesting to figure out the bugs and move from there. I think when this thread started people thought it would be D&D with more emphasis on role play and narrative; now it's starting to be more of a unique homebrewed system with fantasy elements. Which is great, as long as you're clear about that in the ad. There's a section for "Freeform" games, and the ad probably fits best in there. I'm sure there are lots of people here who are interested in helping build a new system, so I'm sure you can find interest. There's an enormous amount of creativity on the 'Weave...this is the place for such a project!



Combat and Dice
Also, how will magic work? I can see wonderful creative potential for magic, but that extra creativity also makes it challenging to simplify the rolls for it.

That is good question, and I had 2 options. Either I build a whole foundation for all the many many spells. Or, I let the players pick their spells, and then look closely into them, and weaving challenges that give the spell choices more impact.



There's a section for "Freeform" games, and the ad probably fits best in there. I'm sure there are lots of people here who are interested in helping build a new system, so I'm sure you can find interest. There's an enormous amount of creativity on the 'Weave...this is the place for such a project!

Don't see the Freeform game category in the ads forum though. I suppose I will put it either in 3.5 or 4th edition. Would you like to be one of the players? I can keep a slot for you.

I admit I haven't read the whole discussion so far, so I may be speaking bullshit here...

If your game is significantly different (system-wise) than 3.5 or 4e, put it in the Misc section instead. A bit of homebrew and the like is okay, but if you're diverging from the system on fundamental levels, you can't keep calling it the same anymore.

Also, on the Game Ads there are only sections for games currently advertising. There are no freeform games right now, so there isn't a section there at the moment... that doesn't mean the section doesn't exist.

Ah, so by playing with different levels you intend to create a certain dynamic that has some good role play potential. I can see that. To that end, though, could you just give each person a role, instead of making them a different level? Perhaps there's still a veteran and a rookie--and they need to role play that--but mechanically they're the same level. You'd need to explain why the veteran is the same level as the rookie maybe, but it would take away the need to re-work your monsters to fit different levels.
I'm actually playing in a game currently where one character is a grizzled old man who has loads of experience and intends to lead a bunch of younger characters into battle. We're all the same level, but the dynamic you describe is still there.

At any rate, I definitely like the idea of encouraging the "role" part of role play. It's so easy to get bogged down in the mechanics of a game and miss out on the fun part--telling a story.

For magic, I'd suggest letting the players select their spells, then forming them to fit your mechanics. Otherwise, you're reskinning a ton of different spells that people might not even use.
Or, you could maybe divide spells into the basic groups they had in 3.5; conjuration, evocation, necromancy, etc. Each of those schools of magic (I believe there are 7, but I'm not too familiar with it so I may be wrong) has a different method of working, according to your mechanics. Then the players are free to make up or select any spells that work within those certain schools, and they work as you intend them to.
For example, a character might have access to the Evocation and Necromancy schools when they begin, and can select two spells from each. Each school has a different way of working and offers different results or benefits, but a player can only make up spells from those schools. When they level, they get access to another school...that sort of thing.

As for the game ad, Silverkiss says it all. When you create a new game, the Game System pull down menu will give you the option of Freeform. If you put it into 3.5 or 4e, you might get a lot of players who expect something other than what you're proposing. There's the chance a mod will ask you to move it as well, if they don't think it fits.

As for playing, I'd be interested to help as best I can. I think it's a great idea!

I'm actually playing in a game currently where one character is a grizzled old man who has loads of experience and intends to lead a bunch of younger characters into battle. We're all the same level, but the dynamic you describe is still there.

Alright, I can work that way too. Amending the character creation component.




For magic, I'd suggest letting the players select their spells, then forming them to fit your mechanics. Otherwise, you're reskinning a ton of different spells that people might not even use.

That is my current preference too.




As for the game ad, Silverkiss says it all. When you create a new game, the Game System pull down menu will give you the option of Freeform. If you put it into 3.5 or 4e, you might get a lot of players who expect something other than what you're proposing. There's the chance a mod will ask you to move it as well, if they don't think it fits.

Silverkiss, tobias, understood.



As for playing, I'd be interested to help as best I can. I think it's a great idea!

Silverkiss, there is a slot for you too if you like, but I know you much prefer other systems. I understand

Understood, Silverkiss. I will respect that.

House Rules have been amended, with new category 'Spells'

What about character creation? How will this be handled?
I'm guessing that archetypes from D&D would be welcome if you're going with a fantasy feel, but the mechanics of creating a character won't be the same.

What I mean is how will you determine stats? Is this a point buy, or rolled, etc. The roles you've laid out might work best as your "class," in a way, with the player able to further flavour it. So a player might choose to be a rookie who has dabbled in magic (wizard) or a veteran who's trained all his life with a halberd (polearm fighter).





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