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Thread: Character and Rules Guidelines

  1. #46
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    Hi Umiushi,

    Thanks for pointing out the Implement Expertise change. I assume that, since Chant has already taken that feat, the benefit applies immediately?

    --T

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    Quote Originally Posted by Palpatim View Post
    Thanks for pointing out the Implement Expertise change. I assume that, since Chant has already taken that feat, the benefit applies immediately?
    Yes, changes to a character's qualities usually take effect immediately, unless the context or circumstances dictate otherwise. In this case, Chant gains the benefit immediately.

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    Eberron Player's Guide, Initial Announcement

    A copy of the Eberron Player's Guide wound up in my hands this weekend, thanks to a book sale. I wasn't ever planning to get this title, but now that I have, I may make use of some of the contents.

    It will take me a little bit of time to determine what I will include. Warforged are definitely a no-go as a PC race. On the other hand, some of the items will be listed for possible purchase in Tanisaornkuld, in the Unquiet Lands campaign. I will make a post in the near future concerning my implementation of the rules found in this book.

  4. #49
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    what about the artificer class? Always liked that one. ANd hooray for cheap books.
    "I'm not going crazy. I'm going sane in a CRAZY world!"

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    I will allow the artificer class for The Unquiet Lands and Dispositio Diabolum campaigns.

    Further discussion about my implementation of the Eberron Rules will have to wait until my schedule quiets down, probably around March 18th. I will edit this post at that time.

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    Cantrips and Game Mechanics

    This was originally written with combat in mind, but in most cases it should also apply to any non-combat situation that happen to utilize game mechanics, such as during a skill challenge.

    I like creative activity, but I believe that cantrips were not intended to affect combat in more than very limited ways. My rulings will be in keeping with that belief. In general, you can replace an action that your character would already be capable of, with an appropriate cantrip for narrative purposes. The cantrip doesn't change, enhance, or otherwise affect the resolution of the action. I suppose this is a nice way of saying that cantrips are mechanically useless (though see the specific cantrip listings below for some limited exceptions).

    For example, let's say that Noxias, a wizard, wants to perform a Bluff to gain combat advantage. This is a standard action that can be done once per encounter. (Player's Handbook, page 183.) For narrative purposes, Noxias could use a Prestidigitation cantrip to create the bluff. However, the mechanical resolution is still the same: Bluff vs. Insight, a standard action, and only once per encounter. In other words, Noxias can't bluff with Prestidigitation and then bluff again with the raw Bluff Skill, nor does his use of a Prestidigitation spell give him any advantage over another character's bluff.

    Similarly, Ghost Sound could be used as a narrative alternative to an Aid Another on a Stealth check, but in game terms it would be functionally identical to Aid Another: you would have to be adjacent to the character you're aiding, that character would need to be in a position to make a Stealth Check, and the effectiveness of the bonus would be based on your Stealth Check.

    Now for specifics:

    Ghost Sound
    This might have some application to provide misinformation to an NPC, or to communicate secretly over a short distance. It does not grant any mechanical bonuses, but could cause an enemy to make a tactically disadvantageous decision, or create an opportunity to use Bluff or a similar skill.

    Light
    This has the obvious tactical advantage of providing illumination. It absolutely cannot be used to blind or dazzle enemies.

    Mage Hand
    Mage Hand can only be used to manipulate your personal possessions or unattended objects. Unless a character is Trained in Thievery, Mage Hand cannot be used for pick pocketing attempts (which have a -10 penalty associated with them in combat, in any case). Unless the character in question has the Helpless condition, an object in a character's possession is never unattended, even if the character is immobilized, stunned, restrained, or subject to other, similar conditions. However, dropped objects are unattended. Therefore, Mage Hand may be tactically useful to snatch away the dropped weapons of an enemy.

    Prestidigitation
    Even among other cantrips, this spell is the least useful in combat. To my mind, it's supposed to be a power to make wizards look "wizardly." It's the most tempting cantrip to use in combat because of the sheer variety of its applications, but this will nearly always result in the waste of a standard action. Occasionally, the ability to light or snuff out a light source can be used to tactical benefit.


    If you come up with something impressively creative, I may be tempted to award a once-off bonus. This of course applies to any sort of action, not just cantrips. However, the bar for this is quite high. I'm highly averse to awarding these bonuses for a variety of reasons.
    Last edited by Umiushi; 05-11-2012 at 05:14 PM.

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    First Aid: Using a Second Wind and Stabilizing the Dying

    I previously made this ruling in post #2968 of the Out-of-character adventure discussion thread, but will repeat it here to make it easier to look up.

    The First Aid action of the Heal Skill has three general applications:
    1. Allow an adjacent character to use Second Wind, assuming the power has not yet been expended. (DC 10)
    2. Stabilize an adjacent dying character. (DC 15)
    3. Grant a saving throw or a saving throw bonus to an adjacent ally. (DC 15)


    A common question is whether an unconscious character who has not yet used their Second Wind can benefit from the first, easier application of First Aid. The answer is yes, if an unconscious or dying character still has the use of Second Wind available, it can be granted through the DC 10 Heal Check; the healer is not limited to using the more difficult Stabilize the Dying application. The rationale is that First Aid is the result of an activity performed by healer, and is therefore not limited to the recipient's ability to take actions.

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    Training Quests

    Because I don't want to completely distract parties with training quests, you can only choose to take the level 5 daily or the level 6 utility quest, not both. Training quests are strictly optional.

    This is what the quests look like:
    Training Quest (for a Daily Power)
    Level: 5
    Start: You reach level 5. Select a desired daily power but do not give it to your character.
    Goal: Obtain your chosen power. How you will accomplish that goal will be determined by me with your input.
    Outcome - Complete Success: When you fulfill the goal, you immediately gain the use of your chosen daily power and a reward of 200 XP.
    Outcome - Moderate Success: If you reach level 6 without having fulfilled the goal, gain a level 5 daily power other than the one you originally chose, in addition to everything your character normally gains from reaching level 6. If you fulfill the original training goal while you are level 6, you immediately retrain your current daily power to the chosen daily power and gain the reward of 200 XP. This does not count against your character's normally-allowed retraining, but you may not retrain your newly-gained power until you reach level 8.
    Outcome - Failure: If you reach level 7 without having fulfilled the goal, you may choose to retrain your daily power to the power you originally chose. Whether or not you do that, even if you fulfill the original conditions of the quest in the future, there will be no effect and no reward.

    Training Quest (for a Utility Power)
    Level: 6
    Start: You reach level 6, and did not choose the previous training quest. Select a desired utility power but do not give it to your character.
    Goal: Obtain your chosen power. How you will accomplish that goal will be determined by me with your input.
    Outcome - Complete Success: When you fulfill the goal, you immediately gain the use of your chosen utility power and a reward of 250 XP.
    Outcome - Moderate Success: If you reach level 7 without having fulfilled the goal, gain a level 6 utility power other than the one you originally chose, in addition to everything your character normally gains from reaching level 7. If you fulfill the original training goal while you are level 7, you immediately retrain your current utility power to the chosen utility power and gain the reward of 250 XP. This does not count against your character's normally-allowed retraining, but you may not retrain your newly-gained power until you reach level 9.
    Outcome - Failure: If you reach level 8 without having fulfilled the goal, you may choose to retrain your utility power to the power you originally chose. Whether or not you do that, even if you fulfill the original conditions of the quest in the future, there will be no effect and no reward.

    In summary, the reward for taking one of these quests is experience points: 20% of what you need to reach the next level. The challenge of the quest is that you have to temporarily forgo the use of your new major ability. The risk is that, depending on what happens in the party's future, it is quite possible that the quests will not be evenly balanced between player characters: some characters will succeed early, other characters will fail, possibly because of factors not entirely within their control.

    Depending on the power chosen and the player's input, some quests may be relatively straightforward: e.g. find an expert, expend some time and money, and learn the power. Other quests may be more involved, perhaps reaching the level of a mini-adventure. Powers that are to be granted through introspection or inspiration are best handled by not taking training quests at all.

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    PC Alignments

    Over the past few days, with the addition of new players and new scenarios, I have had some impetus to update sections of this sub-forum. For literally years, I have felt the need to put together a cogent piece on the role of alignments in my execution of the game. In part, this is because I have not seen some of my constructions of the topic expressed before in rules, articles, or discussion. As they touch upon morality and values about which there remains no universal consensus, it is a difficult topic. What follows is how I have always viewed alignments from the beginning of the Unquiet Lands campaign, but never previously found a way to state in an organized fashion. These points are made to clarify my interpretation of the rules concerning alignment as presented in the Player's Handbook, pages 19-20, not to replace them.

    My interpretation of alignments is thus: alignments represent a contract between the player and the Dungeon Master concerning how the character in question will be run.

    • At a minimum, Lawful Good characters actively support the benevolent and just aspects of society and civilization, and work to the benefit of populations of sentient beings who are legitimate members of those societies and civilizations.
    • At a minimum, Good characters work to the benefit of populations of sentient beings who do not espouse repugnant values or engage in harmful behaviors. They are nominal members of societies and civilizations, provided such entities are not oppressive or malevolent.
    • Most unaligned characters are nominal members of societies and civilizations, provided such entities are not oppressive or malevolent. At a minimum, they will not willingly work to the detriment of populations of sentient beings who do not espouse repugnant values or engage in harmful behaviors.
    • Alignments follow a principle I call "one act of evil." That is to say, good actions and evil actions are not weighted equally; one evil action can be enough to overwhelm all good actions up to that point, depending on the nature of the act. A simple example follows: a healer who has tirelessly and heroically saved countless lives poisons one patient because that patient expressed an interest in a fruit the healer finds revolting. Regardless of considerations of the healer's sanity, that one act is sufficient to label the healer as chaotic evil: evil, for harming an undeserving person, and chaotic for having a motivation that defies the rational norms of society.
    • Lesser evil acts do not necessarily result in an immediate change of alignment, but it remains the case that evil acts are considered to have a much greater impact than any store of good acts.
    • Evil characters are not irredeemable, but they must consciously reject the reasoning that led them to evil in the first place before any subsequent actions can be considered to have an effect on their alignment.
    • The in-game consequences of an alignment shift may vary, but the issue is one between myself and the player and may be resolved in the context of player participation. If the alignment shift was caused by understandable, and on some level, sympathetic, in-game circumstances, that is nowhere near the same as one which comes about by a breach of trust in terms of how I expect PCs to conduct themselves.
    • These guidelines are not intended to be laws that are picked over word-for-word. Where possible, common sense must prevail in their execution and interpretation.

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    What about chaotic good?
    That's how i intended to play Sai in Knowledge's Cauldron.
    'I'll Give You My Life, If You'll Hold It In Your Truth, Because Truth Is The Pursuit That Captivates My Soul'

    I'd Give My Life For A Truth That Could Never Be Shaken

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    The guideline provided for Good-aligned characters applies to the old Chaotic Good alignment as well. Characters who were formerly classified as "Neutral Good" would be less "nominal" members of society than Chaotic Good characters.

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    Search Times

    After spending some time diving through old posts, here is a compiled and generalized list for searches and related activities:
    • Examination
      • Initial perception - When PCs first enter an area: no action necessary to obtain a basic description and obviously unusual or interesting features, uses Passive Perception
      • Casual examination - Glancing around: one minor action to note unusual or interesting features, uses Active Perception
      • Moderate search of a small room or corridor - poking around without disturbing much to detect signs of interest (potentially treasure, clues, or secret doors): one minute, highest Perception plus 20 or more depending on the number of searchers
      • Moderate search of a large room, long corridor, or a cave - as above, but two minutes
      • Moderate search of a large cave or chamber - as above, but five minutes; truly vast spaces can take much more time
      • Thorough Search - checking walls, ceiling, floor, furniture, containers, etc. - one minute per square searched, Perception plus 20 to find deliberately hidden features, and usually allows an Active Perception Check for any traps in the square.
      • Obsessive Search - a thorough search but looking for any clue of potential interest or relevance - five minutes per square searched, Perception plus 20 to find even very obscure features, and usually allows an Active Perception Check for any traps in the square
      • Search times do not include exhaustive cases such as reading all the material in a library, or identifying all the components in an alchemical laboratory.

    • Finding Traps
      • Quick check for traps - looking around a room, or examining a specific item, door, or a specific section of wall: one minor action per activity, uses Active Perception
      • Thorough search for traps - checking each step of the way: one minute per square searched, Perception plus 20 for most traps or an Active Perception Check for well-hidden traps, but only detects traps that exist in the square or item being examined. Some rare types of traps can cause this approach to backfire.

    • Magic Detection
      • Detecting magic - Sensing the presence of magic in a 5+ square radius: one minute, make a Trained Arcana Check, and can only be attempted once per character, per area, per extended rest.
      • Discerning magic items - Most magic items are obvious, but any item, unless its magic is intentionally hidden, can be determined to be magical or not after five minutes of examination. All items in one square can be examined at a time. This activity can be done while resting.

    • Other Sorts of Detection
      • Sometimes Religion, Nature, or even other skills can be employed along the same lines of using Arcana to detect obscure phenomena. The rules for using these skills in this manner or usually the same as for Detecting Magic, above.
      • Generally, a character must be trained in the skill to use it in this manner.
      • Religion can sometimes detect divine or undead presences.
      • Nature can sometimes detect the presence of primal spirits.
      • As examples of other skills, Dungeoneering can sometimes detect the presence of unnatural spaces and History could be used to notice the significance of certain locations or decorations.

    Last edited by Umiushi; 10-24-2013 at 05:26 AM.

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    Thanks for compiling this Umiushi. Can you clarify this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Umiushi View Post
    Moderate search of a small room or corridor - poking around without disturbing much to detect signs of interest (potentially treasure, clues, or secret doors): one minute, highest Perception plus 20 or more depending on the number of searchers
    Does that mean that no roll is necessary: we simply "take 20" on the highest perception, plus assumed Aid Another rolls from various others?

    --T

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    Quote Originally Posted by Palpatim View Post
    . . .
    Does that mean that no roll is necessary: we simply "take 20" on the highest perception, plus assumed Aid Another rolls from various others?
    --T
    Yes, because one minute of searching is like making 10-30 Perception Checks per character, assuming one Active Perception Check per minor action. The only drawback is that it doesn't find the really hidden stuff that requires either a lot of poking around or some idea of what you're looking for.

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    Extended Rests and interruptions

    Under the normal range of conditions, resting can be interrupted as long as the total reaches 6 hours within a 12 hour interval. Resting can be safely interrupted for periods of brief activity, even if the activity is intense. A typical example would be a combat encounter that the party wins, something lasting less than five minutes.

    Periods of prolonged exertion negate any prior resting. If the party has to move their encampment, fight a running battle or flee from an encounter, or otherwise engage in significant activity of any length, any resting up to that point isn't counted.

    When circumstances make it difficult to rest, then that rest needs to be continuous and/or other penalties may be applied. Examples of such circumstances include the following:
    • when the campsite is flooding or otherwise threatened
    • in the middle of an exceptional storm or blizzard
    • in cases of extreme temperature
    • surrounded by loud noise, biting insects, or other distractions

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