Saturday, October 9, 2010

House Rule: Rest and Recovery

The ease of a full recovery after just one extended rest (6 hours) is one of the most commonly criticized game mechanics of 4th edition. I feel it removes an important element of danger from the game and indeed I have never been a fan of the ease of magical healing in prevoius editions of D&D either.

Therefore, I'm introducing this house rule into my 4e game:

Per extended rest, a character may recover either one healing surge or may remove one failed death save. A short rest has no effect on recovering failed death saves.

The doesn't have a major effect on the tactics of an encounter but it does change the players' overall strategy between encounters. This puts 4e players in a more perilous position than players of eariler editions as there are no easy means of magical healing to speed up long term recovery. Any such magic would also have to be house ruled as well if used at all. Perhaps a new ritual or new magic item could be introduced to improve the recovery rate but I'm not inclined to include such items. I've always liked the "major wound" mechanic of the Pendragon RPG and I think this rule lends a little of its flavor to D&D.

Any 4e players or DMs out there have an opinion of this?

Friday, October 8, 2010

World Building: Tech Preview of Ubisoft's "From Dust"

This looks fun. Hope it comes with a "Print to giant hex map" button.

This reminds me not to try to compete with video games when it comes to building and simulating worlds. While a lot of my posts here have been very crunchy on mechanics, the end goal is to create a framework for aiding immersive interactions between human players sitting together face-to-face, bringing a world to life in an unpredictable and spontaneous manner which with computer games can't compete. Death to Lord British!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Prospecting for Metals

Access to rare metals could make or break the fortunes of a civilization. When PCs wish to secure a stronghold, it is natural they should seek out these resources. Propecting on their own holdings may reveal hidden sources of stability and wealth.

Prospecting requires a successful 5th level complexity one skill challenge. (The skill challenge is a 4e mechanic but can be adapted to any AD&D edition with the use of nonweapon proficiencies or skills.)

Prospecting for Metals Skill Challenge (5th Level)
Prospecting is time consuming, back breaking work with little chance of overnight success. Long hours are spent in cold mountain streams and dismal bogs sifting for rare materials.

1 (4 successes before 3 failures)
Primary Skill:
Dungeoneering - Moderate 5th level DC (15)
Secondary Skills:
History (1 use) - gives +2 bonus, Knowledge of past assay attempts.
Perception (1 use) - gives +2 bonus, A close eye is kept out for tell tale signs.
Endurance (1 use) - gives +2 bonus, Extra hours of back breaking labor.
All Moderate 5th level DC (15)
Time Required:
1 month
Area Covered:
1 five mile hex
No results.
200 XP

% chance / metal / frequency
01-94 Nothing of value in this area.
95-99 Iron 5% of Crust


% chance / metal / frequency
01-50 Zinc 75 parts per million
51-91 Copper 60 ppm
92-97 Lead 10 ppm
98 Tin 2 ppm
99 Arsenic 2 ppm

% chance / metal / frequency
01-57 Antimony 0.2 ppm
58-78 Silver 0.08 ppm
79-97 Mercury 0.07 ppm
98 Platinum 0.004 ppm
99 Gold 0.003 ppm

metal / suggested effect
Fey Iron (Radiant)
Shadow Iron (Necrotic)
Star Iron (Psychic)
Orichalcum (Force)
Mithril (lighter)
Adamantium (stronger)
Uxoricore (Fire)
Uru (Thunder)
Black Orichalcum (Psychic, Force)

Prospecting is a time consuming undertaking and the appropriate random encounter rolls should be made.

Once a metal is discovered, it must be extracted which I'll detail in a future post. Placer mining was the most common method but shaft mining is also a possibility, especially in Dwarven operations.

I leave it to the DM to determine the details of any fantastic metal discovered but the rewards for successful extraction should be significant.

These charts should be taken with a grain of salt. For example, historically lead was collected at several times the quanity of copper, despite being more rare. This probably was because lead was in some way easier to extract than copper. Also, lead was often found with other metals such as copper, zinc and silver but this chart only produces a single metal on a successful role.

For more detailed information on various metals one might encounter in a D&D game, check out the recent post on The Tao of D&D about mining and metals.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Research Material on Medieval Economies

Today I received three used books in the post purchased to help me research the ins and outs of medieval urban life:

"The Commercial Revolution of the Middle Ages, 950-1350" by Robert S. Lopez.

"Medieval Cities, Their origins and the Revival of Trade" by Henri Pirenne.

"Economic and Social History of Medieval Europe" also by Henri Pirenne.

All three look quite helpful. I've already started the Lopez book which 20 pages in seems like a quick and surprisingly entertaining read. The conclusions Lopez makes confirm that I'm on the right track. (Very reassuring!) He has some interesting material on post-Roman barbarian economics which will soon become a post here much like the manorialism posts for you Conan and orc marauder types. I'm getting a lot of new-to-me information on the Roman Empire and some context on today's credit driven economy as well. Hopefully, the Pirenne books will be as inspiring.

I read "Life in a Medieval City" by Frances and Joseph Gies years ago and found it great fodder for D&D background material. I recommend it if you're into this sort of thing.