Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Blanchehammer (5e D&D's proficiency system, the game)

I have played D&D so long that the die scale feels second nature.

OD&D treats some broad checks (listening, opening doors) as a 1 or 2 in 6 chance. I believe Talysman uses it for general resolution of non-combat procedures as well (but can't find it on the blog). It's simple, elegant and respects both the GM to adjudicate well and the player to make clever, calculated risks.

This is maybe D&D sans the wargaming roots.

You're adventurers, out to make money, out to colonize, discover, map, get famous, get lucky and do the sort of thing that excess and heretofore unlucky people might do in a world with too many unlucky people and not enough food, housing and compassion.

Jeff's Middenheim hack is probably the only city on the map.

If you are good at something  you get a +1 to rolls related to doing that thing, increased by 1 every 4 levels (so 5e's proficiency bonus, but starting at 1 less). The bonus doesn't change relative to the die rolled.

x is the highest value of the die. Success is any roll resulting in an x-1. So, success on a d6 is 5+ (33% chance) and on a d4 is 3+ (50% chance), etc.

You roll when it's important to roll.
d4 Simple
d6 Average
d8 Little Tricky
d10 Complex
d12 Difficult
d20 Very Difficult
d100 Chaos

If your proficiency bonus+1 equals success (ie equals "x"), you automatically succeed. (But may still need to roll if the GM is using margins of success).

No critical success or failure.

Armor is either armored or heavily armored. Particularly agile characters are treated as armored for defense. Heavy armor makes doing anything that isn't moving around as normal, riding or attacking more difficulty (increase die size of difficulty). Armor increases the die rolled to land a die by one or two (heavy armor) sizes.

players do pretty much all the rolling and so roll to both attack and defend

attacking someone defending themselves is difficult (d12) but wounding someone with a sword is simple (d4) killing someone already wounded is likewise simple, but killing someone in a single blow is at least a little tricky (d8).

convincing someone to help you against their perceived best interests is very difficult (d20), but convincing someone that their best interests align with yours is only a little tricky (d8).

Healing a wound in an hour of game time is Very Difficult, decreasing in difficulty each subsequent hour.

Not dying or going insane in the face of terrible wounds or cosmic horrors is usually at least complex (d10) but may become harder to do given the scale of the opposition.

Classes reduce the difficulty of Class-related die rolls by 1 die size:

Fighters do a better job of landing blows and not dying, are always at least armored and can wear heavy armor without difficulty
Assassins kill and wound with great ease
Sorcerers find understanding the magical and the insane only very difficult and casting spells only complex
Rogues are quite adept at locks, mechanisms, slight of hand and lying
Clerics find basking in the radiance of the many great and powerful beings without losing one's mind or composure only very difficult
Explorers are adept at navigation, survival and ancient architecture
Bards are good at debauching, lying, music and heraldry
Sages are knowledgeable about languages, ancient history and lore
Protagonists are quite skilled at intimidation, shakedowns and general brutality
Dukes are quite skilled at throwing money around and wearing heavy armor and persuasion

a player can only roll a die ONCE during any given turn

interpretation 1
can roll a die of a given size once during any given turn (ie, each player has a d4-100 and may roll each of those die once during a turn) and "turn" means one go-round the table

interpretation 2
can only do one thing requiring a die roll during a given turn and each player takes a "turn" during a single go-round the table (with only the speaking player's character acting in that turn, other characters reacting)

Troupe play is the norm and there are a number of henchmen types:

Fighters, Dukes and Explorers get Footmen (proficient in landing blows, gaming, following orders and are always at least armored)

Assassins, Rogues, Bards and Protagonists get Lackeys (proficient in drinking, hiding, stealing and following orders)

Sorcerers, Clerics and Sages get Pupils (proficient in languages, research and whose obsessiveness and cowardice makes them relatively resistant to insanity and dying)

This is the first turn and interpretation 2 controls (where a range is given you can either roll the corresponding die or pick the lowest number. If you roll, you cannot roll for anything else and should just pick the lowest ranges. If you roll a one, re-roll the die and add 1 for each time you've re-rolled until you don't roll a 1 anymore). Everyone has a bag of basic adventuring gear, any given proficiency and a class and:

you begin with 1-4 characters

and 1-6 pupils, footmen or lackeys

and 1-8 acquaintances on whom you may call for succor once (name at least 1)

and 1-10 weeks of food and drink

and 1-12 ducats

The most valuable things a peasant and the very poor might have cost a pence (about 250/ducat)
The most valuable things  the lower class but not penurious might have cost a quarter
The most valuable things  the middle class might have cost half a ducat
The merchant class walks around with at least a ducat, usually much more in good
The aristocracy usually has about the same, but their ransom is enormous

This goes for things "fit" for each social class. Food for a peasant costs a penny and is pretty terrible (turnip-flavored water), etc.

Obscure things are eyeballed to fit the social class and are expensive for each syllable (a la Vornheim, I think) (so: human fat candle is 5 syllables, but is probably something anyone in the lower class might have (being of some religious significance) so it costs (5 syllables * quarter ducats means it costs 1 and a quarter ducats).

(a "syllable" is also the ducat-equivalent used by thieves and disreputable types as bank notes and are purportedly written in a mix of demon blood and the blood of some local strong man [and is issued by the local strong man] but are probably often fakes)

Levels are gained at a rate of 1/hour of play for any character exposed to real mortal peril for the majority of the hour in the pursuit of money, fame, power and the exploration of lost places and other of the gentler colonial pursuits (this is eyeballed, but characters wounded while adventuring are pretty much guaranteed a level).

Proficiency may be had in half as many things as your level +1. You must find a trainer to teach proficiency and they'll likely ask quiet a bit of money (current # proficiencies x level x 5 ducats, half that if you've 2 or more related proficiencies already). Learning a new proficiency takes a month of game time, give or take. Play another character in the meantime.

Attribution: John Blanche
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