Sunday, 19 January 2014

Rules Corner: Ability Bonuses

One of the problems I've had with games that use D&D style ability bonuses (and ability scores) is that odd numbered ability scores generally don't contribute anything to your character. It doesn't change your modifier and as such is mostly useless. What I started doing as a house rule (and someone else probably has as well) was to allow players to add a +1 to their roll if their ability score was odd and they succeeded on second a roll. If they beat the beat the 50% point, they get a +1 on that action. Naturally, if you are the kind of Game Master that describes near misses differently (like when you are off by one), you can speed the game up a little by only requiring a roll then. Overall though, it wasn't too difficult to roll both a d20 and a d6 (or d4) at the same time for my group and as such this rule worked.

Note: I would allow the roll to add a +1 to attack rolls and damage rolls in this way. This way, they would be 50% likely to be as effective on an attack as a natural modifier (and the more checks or attacks you do, the more pronounced the difference becomes. This is because to have 2 attacks equal between a +3 1/2 modifier and a +4 modifier would mean succeeding twice on a flip/roll, which has a 25% chance of happening). An alternate rule they would need to make one roll for the attack, and one roll for the damage. That way, they would have a 1/4 chance to be as effective as a natural modifier in combat (for one attack) and 1/2 outside of combat. Personally however, I just allow my players to make one such roll for the +1 modifier to attack and damage so that combat centered characters may also have an incentive to take an odd ability score.

Alt Version: Select a reasonable number. Allow odd number characters to add a +1 to that ability check or attack the selected number of times per day or per gaming session. This requires less rolling but more tracking from your characters.

The advantage of using this kind of solution is that no tables have to be modified (and all the implications of doing so). However, the disadvantage is that it does add a little complexity to the mix. If you do the roll every time or only when they are one off, I found the added complexity barely noticeable.

If anyone notices an improvement that can be made please feel free to let me know about it.


Way 1:
Attack Roll = 16 + 4 (bonus)
I have odd STR meaning I roll a dice (let's say d6) - 3 (no bonus since it is in lower half)

Way 2:
Attack Roll = 16 + 4 (bonus)
Game Master: Do you have odd strength?
Player: Yes (rolls d6 and gets 4)
Game Master: Despite the creature's reaction to your attack, your berdiche catches it's head as it attempts to duck out of the way (roll damage)

Note: This style works best if your the kind of Game Master that tells players when they come close to hitting or succeeding (close being off by one) and as such your not giving away any additional information. Technically this would still work with a bigger range but will result in more rolling (still less than for ever action though).

Way 3:
Attack Roll = 16 + 4 (bonus)
Player: I choose to add +1 for a total of 21 (and possibly +1 to damage)

Friday, 3 January 2014

New Dungeons and Dragons has a Release Date

It is official. The new version of Dungeons and Dragons will be released in the summer of this year. This small fact makes me rather worried. The rules as they were presented during the playtest were in my opinion rather rough and the proximity of the final release date to the final playtest packet gives me reason to pause. I will come back to these reasons in further posts. I really do hope that these rules prove to be worthy of the brand. One of the most interesting things to see will be the how modularity that was mentioned during the start of the playtest will work.

It will also be interesting to see the marketing strategy.

You can read the announcement on their site here.