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Splatbook Cancer

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In the never-ending quest for power they forged an idea: the splatbook (expansion book). Revenue, alternatives, exotic-ness, all for the price of admission. Unfortunately designers desired for their exotic class to be the one ruling class and power creep spread like a shadow. More splatbooks furthered it like mutating cells and the cancer took root in the industry.

The flowery language is to describe something I’ve observed over decades. Splatbooks have power creep. More splatbooks make more power creep. More power creep makes cancerous character builds. Cancer characters castrate core characters.

For d20 system games the power creep can be extreme. It is not limited to them. Some games have power creep that destroys its internal narrative: Exalted, for example, where Solars become the least capable of the celestial reincarnations once splatbook cancer sets in yet the narratives says they are the world-savers. The main focus of expansions ought to be world building and campaign. Character classes are where the splatbook cancer creeps and requires the most vigilance to prevent class destabilization. What I recommend is buying world/source books over character class expansion books.

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Gaming Again

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Pathfinder “Rise of the Runelords”. So far PF is about the same as DnD 3.x. The campaign is, to date, a little reminiscent of “Power Behind the Throne” with a bit less conspiracy – but the fleshed out townsfolk is refreshing. Sandpoint really comes across as a breathing settlement. We are only level-2 and barely into the game.

Vargus “Gus” Icepelt – Warpriest, Human
Odol Ironjaw – Barbarian, Dwarf
Mo of Riddleport – Bard, Halfling
Silk of Korvosa – Rogue, Human

http://paizo.com/products/btpy8tc0?Pathfinder-Adventure-Path-Rise-of-the-Runelords-Anniversary-Edition

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Making d20 Fun Again

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For quite some years I refused to play d20 system games. The prestige-classes, the convoluted rules and feat-based exceptions, the general idea of new classes being made as a one-upmanship of existing classes, and the third-party stuff that just broke the game – all combined to put a foul taste in my mouth as soon as d20 was mentioned.

Then along came Eclipse: The Codex Persona (E:CP). A point-buy character creation system for d20/OGL. It is totally flexible and with a bit of work you can create any character-concept you would like right from level one. It’s clear that the Distant Horizon Games’ designers have done their testing and the comments through-out the product show it. They pull no punches in letting you know it can be abused, and as they say, if your players are making fireball-throwing wizards for a grim and gritty rogue game then the problem is not the game-system. Unlike mainstream d20 products who seem to pretend it can’t happen E:CP shows you examples of broken builds so you can get a good idea of what not to do and what to look out for when new players pick up the book and make characters.

E:CP’s point-buy works on the basis of one feat is 6 character points. A PC has about 24cp per level, and starts with 48cp. E:CP considers characters to have 3 levels prior to level-1 (-2, -1, 0). It expands on the idea of abilities and feats with Corruptions and Specializations: basically they are ways to alter the feat/ability to either be increased in effect (eg. Specialized for double-effect), or reduced in utility (eg. Specialized only to be used in a thunderstorm). The cost either alteration (specialization or corruption) increases or reduces the cost of the ability based on its application.

At first E:CP is a bit difficult to understand. There’s a few points of understanding that are implied and not stated as clearly as I would like. The scope of what is a corruption versus what is a specialization takes a fair bit of reading to get used to. On top of this the magic-progression descriptions are a little clunky in how they function, and combined with Base Caster Levels really could use a clean-up for clairty. A more straight-forward, step-by-step, description could be better for dullards like me but I got there in the end.

As the designers rightly say you need a strong concept before you can make a character. Since point-buy can be like a massive market with near limitless choices you can get into a rut trying to finish spending the last few character points. That’s why a clear concept, with abilities and why the character has them, is so necessary.

For me Eclipse: the Codex Persona has returned me to the fold of d20 gaming. Without it I would still be out in the wilderness of the less popular systems. I strongly recommend getting this excellent piece of OGL work and trying it out. As they say in "How Do I Use This Product?”:

We’ve play-tested, pushed, prodded, and pulled every corner of this system. And it works. None of our players are willing to play d20 with any other system anymore – and we think it would be cruel to try and make them.

Eclipse: the Codex Persona, by Distant Horizon Games is shareware available from RPGNow and Lulu.com. When you’re converted go back and drop the $9.95 for Eclipse: the Codex Persona and get Eclipse II: Libram Arcana thrown in for free with more examples and goodies. Totally worth it.

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Simple 2d6: Infected Wounds

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Jensan’s comments got me thinking about “Infected Wounds” for Simple 2d6 and made me realise that, as it stands, infected wounds are an inconvenience: they prevent the character healing for a few days. It’s true that this means the character will still have the wound penalties, since they haven’t healed, and be at –n until healed. Other than, though, infection is not a danger. To address this I put an optional rule together on the effects of infection.

Optional: Effects of Infection
Each day that natural healing is prevented from taking place is a chance for infection to set in. Make a test versus infection, with TN the same as the TN was for cleaning the wound, each day. Should the wounded fail the test then infection has set in. Infected wounds do not heal and get worse each day they are not treated. Subsequent days require resistance against poisoning from gangrene with the TN base the same as the original TN for cleaning the wound. This TN increases by one point, cumulative, each day without the wound being correctly cleaned and treated.

Example: Zed had a nasty wound to his leg. The original TN to clean it was 9. Infection set in on the second day. On the third day Zed makes a resistance against TN 10 (9 + 1 first day). On the second day of infection Zed must make a resistance against TN 12 (9 + 1 first day + 2 second day).

As the infection increases the skill check required to cleanse and treat the wound matches the resistance TN. Any wound that has had a resistance test against poisoning from gangrene should have some permanent effects should the patient survive. This is dependent on the extent of infection. Something that was only infected for one day would have a nasty scar. Two days a minor lack of mobility, such as a limp, or stiff joint. Three days would see a permanent loss of some Agility or Strength.

I’m beginning to think that another appendix with fully fleshed out optional rules, or even an additional document, might be a good idea.

Optional: Effects of Infection

Each day that natural healing is prevented from taking place is a chance for infection to set in. Make a test versus infection, with TN the same as the TN was for cleaning the wound, each day. Should the wounded fail the test then infection has set in. Infected wounds do not heal and get worse each day they are not treated. Subsequent days require resistance against poisoning from gangrene with the TN base the same as the original TN for cleaning the wound. This TN increases by one point, cumulative, each day without the wound being correctly cleaned and treated.

Example: Zed had a nasty wound to his leg. The original TN to clean it was 9. Infection set in on the second day. On the third day Zed makes a resistance against TN 10 (9 + 1 first day). On the second day of infection Zed must make a resistance against TN 12 (9 + 1 first day + 2 second day).

As the infection increases the skill check required to cleanse and treat the wound matches the resistance TN. Any wound that has had a resistance test against poisoning from gangrene should have some permanent effects should the patient survive. This is dependent on the extent of infection. Something that was only infected for one day would have a nasty scar. Two days a minor lack of mobility. Three days would see a permanent loss of Agility or Strength.

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