April 20, 2010

Beer, Pretzels, and Death - The House Rules of My Rappan Athuk Campaign

Here are the House Rules I have up at Epic Words for my players' perusal.  Figured I'd share them with the blogosphere.  Feedback is welcomed.

Allowed Source Material
    Player and DM Sources
  • Player's Handbook
  • Dungeon Master's Guide
  • The Hypertext d20 SRD
  • Player's Handbook II
  • Various "Complete..." books per DM approval
  • Relics & Rituals I & II (with limitations)
  • Spell Compendium
  • Eldritch Sorcery
  • Magic Item Compendium
  • Arms & Equipment Guide
  • Ultimate Equipment Guide
    Campaign Materials
  • Rappan Athuk Reloaded
  • Bard's Gate
  • lots and lots of monster books...
 Character Generation

Starting Level: 6
Ability Scores: Point Buy-High-powered Campaign: 32 Points (DMG p.169)
Starting HP: Maximum HP for level 1; additional HP rolled at the table with DM present
Starting Wealth: 13,000 gp (standard)
o No evil alignments [Frost: Not really a moral qualm here, but I've learned allowing evil alignment causes more headaches than it's worth.]
o No custom magic items
o The DM reserves the right to refuse any character feature regardless of the materials listed as Source Material.
o Seek DM approval for using any class, item, race, etc. not listed in the Source Material.

Ensemble of Characters [Frost: This was inspired by a post at someone's blog.  I believe it was Jeff Rient's blog, but I can't find the particular post.  I've never played Dark Sun, but I think that had something similar, too].
Each player can have up three PCs at his/her disposal. This three includes any fallen PCs hoped to return to the land of the living. If a PC ever dies, the player has the option of reserving a slot for that PC or may create a new PC for that slot. Players may choose any PC prior to the session as long as we are not starting the session mid-combat. In other words, if we end one session while the party is knee-deep in the undead, the PC that was involved must still be involved in the next session. However, if the session ends with the party making camp or simply out of danger, the player can choose to use a different PC the next session. Please note, whatever items one PC carries are owned by that particular PC. On a case by case basis, I may allow players to have one PC give an item to another character so that character can give the item to another ensemble PC the next time that PC is played.

Death (from "The High Cost of Dying" by Andy Collins)
Any time a character is raised from the dead (by any effect that would normally cause a level loss), instead of losing a level, he picks up a special negative level. Unlike a normal negative level, this one can't be eliminated with restoration or any other kind of magic short of a miracle or wish. The character suffers all the normal penalties for a negative level--a -1 penalty on attacks, saves, and ability and skill checks; -5 hp; -1 to effective level for determining the effect of special abilities; and 1 spell or spell slot from the highest level castable.

This negative level remains until the next time the character gains a level. Each time you gain a level, you remove one of your special negative levels. (It's kind of like going up two levels at the same time.) If you're carrying around more than one of these special negative levels, you only lose one of them this time; you'll have to wait until your next level to lose another one.

True resurrection (and similar effects that restore life without causing level loss) bring a character back without this special negative level.

This rule applies to energy drain as well. If the saving throw caused by an energy draining attack fails, the negative level simply becomes "permanent" until the character gains another level. Restoration magics still work to remove the permanent negative level created by energy drain. Players must keep track of the origin of each of their special negative levels (since restoration can fix those from energy drain, but not from resurrection).

Critical Hits
Critical hits are resolved via the Critical Hit Deck per the rules of the deck with a couple exceptions. Players can always opt to do standard, critical damage instead of using the deck. Also, when a PC is the victim of a critical hit, the player can decide whether to receive the normal critical damage or to suffer the effects of the deck.

Critical Fumbles
Critical fumbles are resolved via the Critical Fumble Deck per the rules of the deck.

Critical Success/Critical Failure for Skill/Ability Checks
We are using the Variant rule from the DMG (p.34). If you roll a 20 on a skill roll, roll again. If you succeed again, good things happen. Likewise, if you initially roll a 1, roll again. If you fail again, bad things happen.

Gems, Baubles, and Goods
When gems, jewelry, statues, and the like are acquired by the party, the DM will immediately relate the monetary value for these items. This simply makes for easier book-keeping.

Gods from any pantheon can be worshiped, however, here is a listing of some of the common ones for this setting: Deities of the Bard's Gate Region [I can't link to the list on Epic Words, but my listing is very similar to the one Duke Omote used.  Thanks again for sharing that info, Duke!]

On Being Turned to Stone (compliments of Jonathan Drain)
A character turned to stone can attempt to strike a heroic pose in order to make a better looking statue. If sold, his statue fetches 100 gp times the result of a Charisma check.

Diagonal movement is 5 ft. instead of the normal rule for diagonal movement (i.e., every other diagonal move counts as 10 ft.). Frankly, the normal rule causes nothing but aggravation for some of us (namely, the DM) and slows down game play. Also, to speed up play, players and the DM may feel free to use the Ranger measuring tool or a tape measure to measure movement. [Frost: This is known as the "anti-Tron movement rule" as I had a tendency to move miniatures like light cycles rather than move them on diagonals because it would always throw off my counting.  I know, for some it isn't that hard, but it was nigh-impossible for this DM once a few beers were consumed.]

Purchasing Magic Items (from the Pathfinder PRD)
Magic items are valuable, and most major cities have at least one or two purveyors of magic items, from a simple potion merchant to a weapon smith that specializes in magic swords. Of course, not every item is available in every town.

The number and types of magic items available in a community depend upon its size. Each community has a base value associated with it (see Table: Available Magic Items). Bard's Gate is a metropolis. There is a 75% chance that any item of that value or lower can be found for sale with little effort in that community. In addition, the community has a number of other items for sale. These items are randomly determined and are broken down by category (minor, medium, or major).

Nonmagical items and gear are generally available in a community of any size unless the item is particularly expensive, such as full plate, or made of an unusual material, such as an adamantine longsword. These items follow the base value guidelines to determine their availability, subject to DM discretion.
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