Athas DCC - proposed rules tweaks

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beermotor
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Athas DCC - proposed rules tweaks

Post by beermotor »

Ho there, wanderers! Been a long time. I've been busy chasing the dragon Money through the dungeon Real World and it's been a hell of a slog let me assure you. Caught the tip end of his tail the other day though so I should be okay for a few moments... long enough to think about starting back up my table top game using Dark Sun. I've also been thinking about tweaking things... thought I'd run my proposed Dark Sun conversion / rules tweaks by the community and see what folks thought.

1. Magic
Dark Sun magic is kind of the epitome of DCC. But one of the things that irked my players, and started to irk me a bit, was just how hard it was to pull off a spell, especially at low level. Consequently, they rarely used magic... often when they tried, it was only at my urging. I found myself wanting to see more magic from them ... not because I wanted magic to be more common, but because I wanted more corruption, more craziness. So, here's what I'm thinking.

a. Defilers/Preservers
Magic requires spellburning; at least one physical stat point (per spell level) must be spellburned to even cast a spell. However, that physical stat point can be taken from the surrounding area... either from other sentient beings, or from the vegetation/animals (if there are any). Sentient beings get a will saving throw, of course. But this models the defiler behavior. Each spellburned stat point equals a 5' radius. So for a 5th level spell, you're potentially sucking 5 stat points from something nearby, just to get the spell off. Burning your own stats is the way of the Preservers, though. Obviously that's a tougher road to go down.

b. Power
I've thought about doing a couple different things to make it more potent. (1) Could adjust the success/failure tables, such that a misfire/fail is only on a 1. This would require a lot of work on me. I'm not crazy about it. But I have the PDF so I could do it. (2) Increase the dice chain and pool. So, a level 1 wizard casts with a 1d24. A level 2 wizard casts with 2d24 (keep highest). Could also do it based on Int modifier... so it doesn't increase with level, but only with Int bonus (+1 = 2d24, +3 = 4d24). This would be easier on me but still might result in a high rate of failures.

c. Corruption
I got hardly any corruption in my tabletop game and I really wanted more. Athasian magic seems to be highly dangerous and corrupting, so I propose making corruption nearly automatic. Maybe for all spells, automatically get a minor corruption every time you cast. For each spell level past 1, there's an increasing chance for a major corruption, until it's automatic at level 3, and maybe starting there you get a chance for a greater corruption until it's automatic at level 5.

2. Funnel
I've considered not using the funnel. The main reason being, I found this Lifepath project and loved it, so I converted it to DCC. I think it's awesome. CLICK -> to Check it out. But this also jives with Dark Sun's "start at level 3" kinda thing... I'm currently thinking that I may start my players at level 0, but with max (4) hps.

3. Races
I think I'm only going to allow humans to be played, until the other races are "unlocked" or befriended in some way. Elves are hostile nomadic thieves mostly; dwarves are oppressed slaves; halflings are cannibals (!!). DCC halflings actually fit pretty well in Dark Sun, heh. I'll eliminate muls, they're kind of generic anyway. I love Thri-kreen, though... haven't yet figured out exactly how to stat them up, but I'm open to suggestions. Will probably give them extra action dice and a basic AC bonus, but they can't wear any other armor and must use special thri-kreen weapons that are unique and hard to come by... maybe they can still use human weapons but attack on d16s instead of d20s.

4. Armor & HPs
Dark Sun is predicated on the desert / dying world / deadly heat environment, so armor, especially metal armor, is ultra rare, for good reason. I haven't quite worked out how to solve this, but one thing I've thought about is maybe having armor simply reduce the damage you take, and not make it "harder" to "hit." So the "to hit" # is based off 10+Agility bonus, period. If they hit you, then armor reduces the amount of damage you take, otherwise you subtract hit points. At 0 you start taking serious wounds, which will very likely kill you, because... -->

5. No clerics
I'm thinking about merging most (all?) of the cleric spells into the wizard lists. Religion in Dark Sun seems more focused on emperor / sorcerer king worship, anyway, and they're not just doling out miracles to the commoners, oh no. However, perhaps an alternate way to handle this is to have defilers cast as above, and have preservers cast as clerics. This may be more in tune with Dark Sun's druid/elemental clerics sort of idea, I'm not sure. (I'm not particularly into the druids/elemental clerics thing. Seems a bit underdeveloped.)


I welcome any thoughts and comments of any kind whatsoever, including "You're dumb this idea sucks."
Last edited by beermotor on Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:25 am, edited 2 times in total.
fireinthedust
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Re: Athas DCC - proposed rules tweaks

Post by fireinthedust »

hRMMM....

1) First, if ability drain is a non-spell attack that requires no attack roll, that's pretty awesome. You could kill foes with a Light spell!

2) Hit points not ability drain, if it's EVERY spell. 1d4 only, maybe, or 1d4 per level max.

3) I'd suggest some kind of ranged attack, and have it drain Hit Points first. And maybe it's an attack that takes a full round to do BEFORE you cast the spell. Preservers would be able to cast normally, so could just throw that fireball, rather than take a minute to drain a foe THEN blow them up.

4) Maybe max HP for all levels? If there're no clerics, or healing is only from Templars of the Sor Kings, plus potions or minor healing from Wizards, you'd have meatier heroes. Plus, y'know, no plate armor.

5) Meh, why limit players to humans? PCs are special. Games are transient things until you're invested.

6) Maybe make your own "dark sun", so you can use Dwarves *and* Muls as the same basic race?
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beermotor
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Re: Athas DCC - proposed rules tweaks

Post by beermotor »

fireinthedust wrote:hRMMM....

1) First, if ability drain is a non-spell attack that requires no attack roll, that's pretty awesome. You could kill foes with a Light spell!
Yes indeedy. And that's why people in Athas HATE HATE HATE magic users. :-) Well, one reason, anyways...
fireinthedust wrote: 2) Hit points not ability drain, if it's EVERY spell. 1d4 only, maybe, or 1d4 per level max.
3) I'd suggest some kind of ranged attack, and have it drain Hit Points first. And maybe it's an attack that takes a full round to do BEFORE you cast the spell. Preservers would be able to cast normally, so could just throw that fireball, rather than take a minute to drain a foe THEN blow them up.
I didn't quite follow what you meant here but this reminded me of something else I was thinking of. Maybe allow a "take 10" kind of option for casters, so that they can spend a whole round casting then remove most (but not all) of the failure chance.

Realized I forgot to link to the lifepath character creation thingy... going to edit the original post now!
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Re: Athas DCC - proposed rules tweaks

Post by fireinthedust »

Hit Points for Spellburn if you're draining it from other creatures. 1 damage per +1, or even 2 or 3 damage per +1. If for no other reason than avoiding the math of re-calculating abilities for creatures and NPCs, or even PCs. Just to save time in combat.

Think about it: you're auto-damaging other creatures in addition to whatever spell you've got: lowering Armor, Saves, Ranged and Melee Attacks (and skill checks). That's a spell in itself, so should have its own action to use it this way.

Yes, a Wizard could get "negative attention" from others, but they can just auto-drain people for everything they've got AND roast them with Magic Missile because of the bonus from Spellburn. Opposition is basically other wizards only, as monsters and NPC warriors/Rogues are just buckets of Spellburn points, and Clerics don't exist. Sure, the Will save is nice, but only Wizards will reliably make those saves.

Hit Point drain works with the concept, but you've still got full-power Heroes to face after the drain. No gimped attacks, saves and armor class.
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Re: Athas DCC - proposed rules tweaks

Post by Raven_Crowking »

Unique Mercurial Magic tables for defilers and preservers.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.
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beermotor
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Re: Athas DCC - proposed rules tweaks

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Raven_Crowking wrote:Unique Mercurial Magic tables for defilers and preservers.
Yeah. Ugh. It would be good though. Happen to know of anything already extant that I could easily/quickly adapt?
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Re: Athas DCC - proposed rules tweaks

Post by aesdana »

You asked for advice, here's mine.
beermotor wrote:a. Defilers/Preservers
Magic requires spellburning; at least one physical stat point (per spell level) must be spellburned to even cast a spell. However, that physical stat point can be taken from the surrounding area... either from other sentient beings, or from the vegetation/animals (if there are any). Sentient beings get a will saving throw, of course. But this models the defiler behavior. Each spellburned stat point equals a 5' radius. So for a 5th level spell, you're potentially sucking 5 stat points from something nearby, just to get the spell off. Burning your own stats is the way of the Preservers, though. Obviously that's a tougher road to go down.
Very, very good idea. :wink:
beermotor wrote:c. Corruption
I don't like your idea because it doesn't make sense for me in Dark Sun where magic corrupts the land not the bodies of men. But YMMV
beermotor wrote:2. Funnel - I've considered not using the funnel.
It seems right : I would not do it neither.
beermotor wrote:3. Races
I like your approach.
I posted a while an half-giant. I would do it differently now : if it looks like a big fighter, treat it like a fighter (they lose initiative bonus as they're slow and gain their mighty deed of arms bonus as a strenght modifier outside combat ; for combat, nothing changes). That's it.

For Thri-Kreen, I started something along those lines but I didn't get farther :
  • HD and attacks like cleric - Saves like thief
    Pack mentality : like the healing power of a cleric, such a character could throw a die when something's wrong with a packmate to identifiy which, whose, where, etc. A kind of tele-empathic bond.
    Hunter skills : Desert survival - Handles poison - Sets trap - Sneaks & hides
    Unusual physiology : jumps high and far (with table and higher rolls would mean higher jumps or automatic ?)
    Base AC : like hide (+3). Bonus to AC raising with level (like a weak save progression ?)
    Creates paralysis poison 1/day (DC = 10 + con modifier + lvl)
    4 arms tactics : 1 gytka & 2 chatkchas ?
beermotor wrote:5. No clerics
I love your idea : no cleric at all as there's no god. Very good and very Dark Sun, more so than the original.

BUT :D I would not merge the cleric's spell list with the wizard's one as I would make cleric spells psionic powers. You have this way a simple solution for 2 problems : no more dumb (fire) clerics and a tested set of rules for your psionicists (clerics are very cool but not in Athas).

You don't serve a god but you also have no more turn unholy nor sacrifices.
Disapproval means overload.
You can even keep lay on hands as is or say it's only usable for psychometabolism specialists (and you then have to design a similar cool power for other specialists).
Many clerical spells can be simply renamed or reskinned to fit the psionicist feel.

In the DS universe, it also means that templars are normal wizards/defilers with a very close patron, their sorcerer-king. They have the ability to automatically cast spell without draining life in thier vicinity (draining, in fact, living targets at a distance through their patron keeping slaves just for this in their palace/basement/prison). You can't play a templar and serving a big bad defiler and stay away from bad things...
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Re: Athas DCC - proposed rules tweaks

Post by Raven_Crowking »

beermotor wrote:
Raven_Crowking wrote:Unique Mercurial Magic tables for defilers and preservers.
Yeah. Ugh. It would be good though. Happen to know of anything already extant that I could easily/quickly adapt?
Sorry, no.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.
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Re: Athas DCC - proposed rules tweaks

Post by GnomeBoy »

Wish I knew more about Athas, just so I could jump into the conversation! That was a campaign that happened when I was away for a couple years.

Nice to see you back, beer. :D That dungeon you mention is truly a MEGADUNGEON.
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beermotor
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Re: Athas DCC - proposed rules tweaks

Post by beermotor »

aesdana wrote:You asked for advice, here's mine.
beermotor wrote:c. Corruption
I don't like your idea because it doesn't make sense for me in Dark Sun where magic corrupts the land not the bodies of men. But YMMV
[/quote]

Haha, that's a good point. But I think it could do both... corrupt the land AND the users. I just want MOAR corruption, dangit!
aesdana wrote:
beermotor wrote:5. No clerics
I love your idea : no cleric at all as there's no god. Very good and very Dark Sun, more so than the original.

BUT :D I would not merge the cleric's spell list with the wizard's one as I would make cleric spells psionic powers. You have this way a simple solution for 2 problems : no more dumb (fire) clerics and a tested set of rules for your psionicists (clerics are very cool but not in Athas).

You don't serve a god but you also have no more turn unholy nor sacrifices.
Disapproval means overload.
You can even keep lay on hands as is or say it's only usable for psychometabolism specialists (and you then have to design a similar cool power for other specialists).
Many clerical spells can be simply renamed or reskinned to fit the psionicist feel.

In the DS universe, it also means that templars are normal wizards/defilers with a very close patron, their sorcerer-king. They have the ability to automatically cast spell without draining life in thier vicinity (draining, in fact, living targets at a distance through their patron keeping slaves just for this in their palace/basement/prison). You can't play a templar and serving a big bad defiler and stay away from bad things...
Well, that's a winning idea for sure. THANKS. I shall steal this wholesale.
:twisted:
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beermotor
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Re: Athas DCC - proposed rules tweaks

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GnomeBoy wrote:Wish I knew more about Athas, just so I could jump into the conversation! That was a campaign that happened when I was away for a couple years.

Nice to see you back, beer. :D That dungeon you mention is truly a MEGADUNGEON.
;-)

Yeah it's a grind. Wife's taking her old job back though so it means I won't have to hustle quite as much, and kids are older now so they'll be at school longer, etc. And my office is now 5 minutes from my house, instead of 30m-1hr. So, things are much better now.

As far as Athas goes, it is definitely what I've been looking for in terms of a kind of sword-n-sorcery-ish, DCC-ish, nasty, funky, sandy kinda sandbox. I picked up a box set of the first edition campaign setting (well, I think it's 2E, but whatever) but I don't plan on doing much else except using the geography and basics, will flesh out the rest of the stuff as I want.

I'm planning on having the first adventure be a zombie/undead invasion of the town and the PCs have to escape to safety. Fight your way out, survival kinda thing.
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Re: Athas DCC - proposed rules tweaks

Post by fireinthedust »

I grabbed the creatures guide for 4e, and one of the critters is this zombie that drains moisture with a bite. (iirc) Could be a neat way of describing their attacks, rather than the usual grey/green goo and black ichor bites.
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Re: Athas DCC - proposed rules tweaks

Post by GnomeBoy »

beermotor wrote:...I picked up a box set of the first edition campaign setting (well, I think it's 2E, but whatever)...
I recently-ish sold a copy of that for a buddy on the Bay of e -- that wasn't to you, was it?? :lol:
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Re: Athas DCC - proposed rules tweaks

Post by finarvyn »

beermotor wrote:I welcome any thoughts and comments of any kind whatsoever, including "You're dumb this idea sucks."
You're dumb this idea sucks. :lol:

Kidding. Using DCC for Dark Sun is an awesome connection and I can't believe I didn't make it before your thread. I haven't played much DS in years, but it's a cool setting and I think it would fit the DCC rules set pretty well.

Some great ideas already in this thread and I'm not sure I could top them. I agree with the idea that corruption may need to be rethought, as in DS the corruption is to the land instead of the character. That might be the factor that helps tip the balance of magic back to where players are willing to use it more often.

Anyway, great thread. I'll have to dust off my boxed set and ponder DS a little more....
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