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Thread: Dungeons & Dragons Light Rules

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    ronpyatt's Avatar
    ronpyatt is offline Dallas Organizer & Admin Golden d20 Award
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    Dungeons & Dragons Light Rules

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    I'm looking to run an Eberron campaign setting with a few house rules. I'm calling this game Dungeon Master the RPG.

    Utilizing Dungeons & Dragons as source material for playing fantasy PDQ.

    It is strongly recommended that this game be used with the PHB, the DMG (magic items mostly), the monster books, SRD, and other open and closed gaming products. This game assumes some familiarity with Dungeons & Dragons as well as the PDQ system.

    Translating D&D into PDQ

    Character Creation
    When creating new characters, players get 8 Character Points to build their character:
    Average for 1 Character Point
    Good for 2 Character Points
    Expert for 4 Character Points
    Master for 6 Character Points.
    Example: A player creates a Sorcerer character using 8 Character Points. The player puts 6 points into Sorcerer Master [+6] and puts the remaining 2 points into Elf Good [+2]. Poof! Instantly, an Elf Sorcerer.
    Eight Character Points should be more than enough for starting characters. Allow players to have an extra 2 Character Points if a Weakness is taken.

    A Class Quality is a broad based descriptor that essentially includes 1st through 20th level character elements. Among these elements, Class Skills, Class Feats, Class Powers, Class related equipment, Class Spells or spell-like abilities, Class Saves, Class's Primary Stat are all properties of the Class Quality.

    A Race Quality is broad based descriptor of an entire race. This includes Racial Powers, Racial Skills, Racial Feats, Racial Spells or spell-like abilities, and Racial Saves.

    Character Levels
    A Character Level represents the starting Action Points for each scene. These points are recovered at the end of a scene. Either 1d6 points of recovery if the PCs are still in danger, or full recovery if the danger has passed.

    Action Points
    Actions points are handled in one of two ways.
    Either one temporary UpShift in Rank per Action Point spent in a particular task
    Or an Action Point can grant a Surge, which gives a +5 (or +3 for less dramatic games) to a roll without an increase in Rank.
    The difference between an UpShift and a Surge is that the Targeting Number's effective Rank increases with an UpShift, which affects a parry, dispel, or saves.

    Hit Points
    N/A. PDQ uses Quality loss to measure damage during conflicts. However, there is a Toughness Feat which can be used to absorb physical damage from an attack in exchange for a single rank loss.

    Hit Dice
    N/A. The range in dice that is used to determine how much punishment a class can take is negated with the PDQ ruleset. Hit Dice are not required because the end result is tracked through Quality Loss.

    To keep with the spirit of the game, and to help keep the world in sync with the game mechanics, Characters must have an Alignment. Note: The nine standard alignments are not considered Qualities.

    Magic Items / treasure
    Equipment carried by a character is not necessarily a part of that character's Qualities, but such items may still add bonuses to other Quality uses.

    XP distribution and awards
    When giving out experience points for defeating encounters divide the opponents CR value amongst the PCs. XP can be spent immediately.

    XP uses
    XP is the driving force that makes characters better at what they do. It allows characters to improve existing Qualities and obtain whole new Qualities.

    Ability Scores
    Although not necessary, if a player would like to utilize Ability Scores, one need only size up the character's overall abilities in a short descriptive phrase. For example, Qualities such as Strong, Healthy, Wisecracking Know-it-all, Athletic, Nimble, Persuasive, etc. are all appropriate to emulating Ability Scores.
    Note: When converting Ability scores into PDQ Qualities any score less than 10 is either Poor or average, and need not be recorded unless it's important to the character concept.
    12 to 14 = Good [+2]
    15 to 17 = Expert [+4]
    18 to 22 = Master [+6]
    Ability scores higher than 22 should be converted as multiple Qualities to reflect a greater focus around the character's Ability Scores. Abilities stack with related skill tasks.
    For example, an Athletic Quality and an Ogre Might Quality would overlap much of the time indicating a focus on the character's strength and stamina. Please note, however, that as per the normal rules regarding magic items that provide the same bonus types (such as strength), bonuses from multiple magic items do not stack unless specified in the item description.

    Compatible feats may be combined into single Qualities or left separate for stacking effects. For example, Two-weapon Fighting and Weapon Focus are both melee Qualities that can be summed up in a single Quality such as Dual-Sword Fighting, or they can be separate qualities that stack with each other when used together.

    Improving a character's Quality cost 8 XP per rank increase. To raise a Fighter from Good [+2] to an Expert [+4], the player need only spend 8 XP for the increase.
    Another way to improve a character's capabilities is to broaden the character's Qualities. In essence, broadening a Quality changes it in some way. If players would like to modify a Quality to encompass more capabilities then a player can spend 4 XP for this change. This is known as Broadening a Penumbra. This can be done with narrowly defined descriptors such as feats, skills, crafts, professions, items, individual powers and spells. Of course, spells and powers are subject to normal class restrictions.
    For example, a Fighter may find an intelligent sword that he or she wants to bond with and make part of their Fighter Class Quality. By spending 4 XP, that fighter can then utilize the magic sword as an extension of the Fighter Class.
    During the Broadening process a player may modify the phrasing of the Quality to reflect the change.
    In addition to the above Fighter example, the player might choose to rename his or her Fighter Quality to Ariel Swordbearer, which is a fancy way of saying Fighter with the addition of a magic sword that the character cannot easily loose.
    For a new wholly new Quality a player can spend 8 XP for the new Quality at Average [+0] Rank.

    Character Conversion
    For existing well developed characters that are converted over from established games, sometimes extra Character Points are required to capture all the aspects of a character. This is subject to GM discretion, but it is heavily dependant on the degree of "loss" the players feel. If more points are needed feel free to offer 2 to 8 more Character Points to the players, but be sure to do this for all the PCs.

    Making Saves
    Use an applicable Quality vs. a Target Number to determine if a character "saves", such as a Fighter's Quality would use fortitude against a Sorcerer's "cone of cold" using Target Number based on the Sorcerer Quality's effective Rank.

    Attacks of Opportunity
    Keeping with the flavor and spirit of the game, characters that attempt to leave, enter, move through, or become distracted during melee combat without a proper tactical maneuver face potential Attacks of Opportunity by adjacent opponents. This is, of course, an optional rule and may not be appropriate for some games.

    Without hitpoints PDQ uses temporary Quality Loss to mark the affects of Damage. This damage can be considered healed after a scene and the danger has passed as per the PDQ recovery rules.
    Non-lethal damage translates into Quality Loss Failures, which are refreshed after a scene as per the usual PDQ recovery rules.
    Ability Score Loss that is temporary is treated as Standard Damage above, but the damage must be applied to an appropriate Quality or as close as possible to the type of Ability Score targeted.

    Weapons and Unarmed Combat
    Melee combat involves using weapons, but sometimes less deadly methods are used. Combat using hands and feet are not considered deadly, and therefore cause Failure ranks not Damage ranks. One of the obvious exceptions is the improved unarmed strike.
    All or nothing spells and effects
    Some spells have an all or nothing affect. In effect, if the spell works then it causes the full effect. If the spell fails, then nothing happens. As per any Standard Target Number based on Rank, if the spell succeeds apply any affect as appropriate to the spells description.

    If the effects of a spell are a type of polymorph then alter any appropriate Qualities to reflect new form. For example, a Sea Hag that was polymorphed into a Rat would then have any remaining Quality Ranks that a Rat could not use would be distributed into Rat Qualities such as Biting, Small Size, or simply the Rat Quality. This might still leave a dangerous foe with which to contend.

    Healing Magic
    If the all or nothing affects are of succor then apply those succeeding Ranks to appropriate Qualities. Of course, one Action Point must be spent per healing. Though a group heal spell should suffice for the entire party.

    Deadly Spells
    If the all or nothing effect of a spell causes Death and if the Standard Target Number for the appropriate "save" is failed then the target dies. However, there may be special cases where the Qualities convert to Undead or Afterlife Qualities as appropriate to the story.

    Level Loss
    If the effect is Level Loss is temporary, then the effects are treated as standard Damage. If the level loss is permanent, the Quality Loss is permanent, but can be rebuilt by spending XP. Alternatively, the victim may option to take the Damage as Character Level loss.

    Full Spellcasters
    Spellcasters can cast spells from their spell list with normal restrictions such as arcane spells for arcane spellcasters or divine spells for divine spellcasters.

    Partial spellcasters
    Cast at one DownShift when emulating full spellcaster's spells.

    Specialized Spellcasters
    When casting an appropriate specialty spell, casters who have specialized get an UpShift in Rank for those spells. For example, an Illusionist would receive an UpShift when casting illusory spells.
    As per the normal rules for spellcasters who specialize, they must also choose the schools from which they cannot learn to cast.

    Magic Devices
    When it comes to using magical devices such as scrolls, wands, rods, staves, rings, and other magical devices, the rules apply to class restrictions, alignment, race, and triggers, etc. based on the nature of the magical device. If a skill roll is required to use magic device then the dice must succeed in order to use the device.

    Prestige Classes
    The normal Rules apply for having any prerequisites in Class skills and other Qualities needed to qualify for a prestige class.

    Game Balance
    PDQ has a wonderful mechanic for keeping game balance. Ultimately, it is the GMs job to balance the story with the players, but to help the GM with this task Ranks are used to level the playing field. Characters with the same number of Ranks in Qualities and Level are pretty much equally matched in survivability. Some Quality combinations are better at doing particular things, and as such players will find their characters can do a great many things better than other characters. So too will other characters be able to things better than their character. Classes may appear to be loosing out to some other classes. For example, it may seem that spellcasters suddenly are very powerful now that they have the full accompaniment of spells from the spell list, and their hit points have become the same as the fighter types. This unbalanced appearance is an illusion.
    What PDQ does is make spellcasters much more like the magic users you find in stories.
    By the same token fighters have advantages in absorbing damage and their fighting techniques will work within anti-magic fields. It is just as well sword bearers can swing their swords all day, and so too should spellcasters sling their spells.
    Quality Ranks determine much of the effectiveness of any action. A Fighter Quality at Master [+6] can do as much damage as a Wizard Quality at Master [+6]. What really makes a character's effectiveness shine is the use of Action Points to Surge and UpShift Ranks.

    Excessive Use
    An overused Quality may become fatigued. Swinging a sword for an hour, running at top speed through a maze, and continually casting spells without a break can all lead to fatigue. There are no hard and fast rules for fatigue because each task is different. A character that can set a good pace may be able to maintain a good steady run, and spellcaster that holds back may be able to crank out several spells, and a fighter that finds a rhythm can hack and slash for while.
    Warn players when they are overexerting their characters, and give them a chance to spend an action point to get a second wind.

    It goes without say, but it should be mentioned anyway that Rank represents the importance of a Quality to a character's concept. The higher the Rank, the more important that Quality becomes.

    Equipment and Item Qualities
    Equipment comes in two basic types: Items and Item Qualities. The difference can be subtle but has an impact on the way the game is approached.
    Any equipment that is part of a Quality or a Quality in itself defines an essential element of the character. These items are generally untouchable by others. Item Qualities may be borrowed or even stolen briefly, but the end result of an item Quality is the security that it cannot easily be taken away.
    Equipment that is not part of a character's Quality is temporary, disposable, stealable, and not as important to the definition of the character.

    Magical Equipment & Items Qualities
    Magical Equipment is simply a magic item that is in a character's list of possessions. It can be stolen, sold, lost, or destroyed, though any one of these actions may be difficult in to do without the owner's permission, but the point is that Magical Equipment is temporary ownership.
    Magic Item Qualities are items that become a defining element of a character. Any character, not just an Artificer, may have Magic Item Qualities. A Quality offers more than just a boost of power or effect. It offers a source of Damage or Failure Ranks during conflicts. Since it's an essential element of the character, the magic item does not easily leave, cannot be stolen (for very long), and in the case of single Qualities will provide damage ranks and refresh Damage as per the PDQ recovery rules.

    Crafting Magic Items
    Experience points must be spent in creating magic items. Normally there are two flavors of magic items: Magical Equipment and Magic Item Qualities.
    Creating magic items cost 6 XP for Magical Equipment per Rank of Quality Modifier (starting at Average [+0]) and 8 XP for Magic Item Qualities (starting at Average [+0]).
    Disposable one time use magic items are cheaper and net cost half as much in XP as other magic items.
    The XP cost determines the number of days as the amount of time it takes to make the magic item.
    So, a Wand of Lightning Quality Average [+0] Rank would cost 16 XP.

    Artificer Quality
    Arguably the most complicated Class available, the Artificer is a crafter of magical objects. To keep this class's crunchy flavor the Artificer has the following as part of the Artificer Quality:
    An artificer is not a true spellcaster, but a magic item creator, and as such has the ability to mimic the spellcasting requirements of a spellcaster to put magic into items. To mimic the casting of spells to be placed into an item an Artificer is crafting, roll to mimic the necessary spellcaster Quality to be placed into the item at Artificer Rank or lower using the desired spellcaster Quality Rank Target Number.

    Artificer XP Discount
    Artificers receive half their Artificer's Rank modifier in XP as a discount in creating each magic item. This means that an Artificer Expert [+4] can create Magical Equipment at only 4 XP per Rank and Magic Item Qualities at 6 XP per Rank.
    So, a Wand of Lightning Quality Average [+0] Rank would normally cost 8 XP, but an Artificer Master [+6] could get it for 5 XP (8 - 1/2 of 6) and it would take the Artificer 8 days to create it. A Scroll of Lighting Strike Quality Expert [+4] Rank would normally cost 4 XP (8 halved for being equipment), but the same Artificer would get it for 2 XP (8 - 1/2 of 6 and then halved and rounded down).

    The Artificer's Deconstructing Magic Items
    A powerful aspect of the Artificer is his ability to deconstruct magic items. By spending a day with a magic item, the Artificer can extract the magic and use it as an XP resource to constructing other magic items. To make things even more complicated, the XP retrieved in this manner is half the amount normally used to create such an item. Unlike Magical Equipment, Magical Item Qualities are quite dangerous to extract from as they are part of another character's descriptor. If the owner of that Quality is opposed to loosing the magic item, the item can fight back with all the resources of the Owner's other Qualities (or at least the Ranks) to defend itself.
    Individual crafts and professions are not part of the Artificer's Quality and must be purchased separately.

    Artificer's Casting
    Artificers have a list of spells that can be cast upon objects, places, and constructs, as per the normal Artificer rules and with their respective gold cost. These castings are short lived magical effects that the infused item possesses.

    Class and Combat
    There are 3 basic levels of expertise in combat. Class Qualities reflect this with Rank DownShifts for less capable fighters. Classes that are moderate fighters such as a Cleric Quality have their Melee DownShifted by one. Poor combatant classes, such as the Wizard Quality, fights at 2 DownShifts.
    There are 3 levels of Saves. Good, Poor, and non-existent. Saves for Poor take 2 DownShifts. The non-existent saves follow the normal rules for special cases when save are required, otherwise non-existent saves are ignored.

    Monster Qualities
    Monster Qualities, like Race Qualities, have specific abilities both pro and con. Aspects of monster Qualities that are vague, generic, or suggested as options should be taken as separate Qualities and not considered automatically part of the creature.
    Some monsters can have classes, but if the class is not mandatory then it can be purchased as a separate Class Quality. Ability scores lower than 10 are considered Poor [-2] or worse. Scores lower than 7 can be considered non-existent or still poor if appropriate. A Familiar's strength is a good example of a practically non-existent strength. Negative descriptors of a monster can either be considered weaknesses, non-existent qualities or vulnerability.
    If something in the standard rules makes no sense for a monster then correct the error with a house rule. Be sure to remain consistent in these rulings, because special cases will always crop up.

    Psion and other classes of power
    Like the Wizard Quality, Psions can specialize. These specialized psions get a 1 rank UpShift when using a power in their specialty. They are also restricted from using powers from other specialized lists. The general powers list is available and works normally.
    Wilders get the powers from their list. Their special ability allows them to Surge with the same Action Point they UpShift with.
    Psychic Warriors are partial psions and they get their list of powers but are at 1 DownShift when using their powers.
    Soulknifes get their mindblade and feats associated with the Soulknife class, and they have no powers list.

    Characters, mainly PCs, play a role in the adventuring world. As they progress in power and levels they become proficient at what they do. Since Master [+6] Rank is the highest level attainable, characters have the luxury of expanding their abilities beyond their initial character creation by attaining new classes, feats, magic items, treasure, and templates. Obtaining Master Rank is paramount to being the Best of the Best in that Quality.

    The One (optional)
    There is a way to be better than the best of the best. This is at the GMs discretion, but if more than one party member obtains Master [+6] Rank in the same Quality, the first Master can be given the option to obtain The One status. This is a reserved Rank that provides a +10 modifier. The cost for this is 16XP. This will move a Quality from Master to The One. There is no intermediate Rank between Master and The One. There are other restrictions to this status. No others in the world may have this status until The One relinquishes The One [+10] Rank. Optionally, only one character of each alignment may have the status of The One.

  2. #2
    ronpyatt's Avatar
    ronpyatt is offline Dallas Organizer & Admin Golden d20 Award
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    So far, I've really enjoyed running this game. I have a few tweaks and adjustments to make for character classes and area effect spells, but I'm pleased with the overall results.

    The dragonfont adventures in Eberron has had 4 sessions played by 3 parties with a few overlapping characters providing continuity. The first party was hired to escort the king's son to a secret location to provide healing for the boy, but they failed. The second party was hired to do the same thing, and they succeeded. The third party was hired by an ambitious noble to find this secret place where the king's son was healed. The 4th session (first party) was going to be hired to help deal with the aftermath of the discovery of the dragonfont, but they got distracted by tavern customers and brigands, missing the opportunity to make a few gold, but having a good time anyway.

    The one little trouble we have with the game is the paradigm shift in thinking about the mechanics of prose roleplaying. Each time I explain about a character's ability to utilize all the stuff availible in the class levels from 1st - 20th level, it invariably leads to the player thinking of the character as a 20th level character, which was/is not the case. I've got to find a way to better explain it to new players.

    During the 4th session, the damage mechanics were put to the test with a PC that dropped every trait to -2, which could have resulted in that character's death, a narrow escape. The results were very satisfying.

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