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Ryan Colby
Caution: Prone to Sudden Outbursts of Crazy
Caution: Prone to Sudden Outbursts of Crazy


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Hello! I thought I'd share some house rules my group is using in the current game I'm running. The idea was to make it feel a little more "old school" and increase the challenge of the game. It's been run as an old school sandbox hexcrawl with random encounters and set adventure locations.

- Encounters vary based on the region. Adventure challenges are set and not determined by PC level.
- New (or replacement) characters start at 1st level.
- No feats, but some may be granted as rewards in game. (Drinking weird liquids in magic fountains, etc)
- No creation of magic items beyond potions and scrolls.
- Death if an attack would drop you to negative CON SCORE or negative max HP, whichever comes first.
- Failed Death Saves don't go away until you long rest.
- Identify only tells you the most basic feature of a magic item, consumes a 100gp pearl and gives you a level of exhaustion per item it's used on.
- Magic items can be figured out in play or via sages.
- XP gained from monsters is negligible. HP of monster = XP earned for fighting.
- XP is gained through GP of treasure returned safely to town (Magic items are given an appropriate value).
- Monsters with intelligence are evil and cruel. If they see someone healing downed heroes they take the time to finish off the wounded laying on the ground.

With these rules the game has been challenging, but my players like their games "tough". They try and think tactically and use the terrain to their advantage. They have all made characters capable of stealth so they can more easily sneak and steal treasure without fighting. We've had three PC deaths in about twelve sessions, and quite a few near-deaths. The new replacement PCs catch up pretty quickly when the group gets a good treasure haul.

What do you guys think? Anyone else have any difficult hacks they've used?

OSR Hexcrawl Resource?

I've been looking around for the past hour trying to locate a site I stumbled upon a while back. It was a large Hexcrawl, and if I recall it was loosely based on Castle Blackmoor. It had a lake area with detailed hexes and was set up as a free, open source OSR setting. Anyone know what I am talking about? I am driving myself mad trying to find this!

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This, right here. Can't wait for the movie.
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The Oatmeal artist made a card game. $2 million Kickstarter in the first two days. Crazy.
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Sharing a  houserule I am using for bringing characters back from the dead in my current campaign world. Let me know what you think.
Coming Back From the Dead
Coming Back From the Dead

DMG Quick Monster Stats vs Monster Manuel and Encounter Design

Has anyone else noticed the huge difference in expected monster stats in the DMG compared to what is in the Monster Manuel? Was this deliberate in order to correct a problem?

Low levels seem to be pretty balanced and fun to play. My regular group is level 3-4 now, five players, and routinely encounters small groups of CR 1/2 to CR 2 creatures without too much difficulty. I have noticed that in the Monster Manuel, higher level creatures don't have many hit points. In fact, a Mummy Lord CR 15 looks like it could get dropped in a single round by a party of four level 7s, with it's 97 hit points.

Now in the DMG, the expected hit points of a CR 15 is 281-295, which is three times what that Mummy Lord has. This is not just the mummy lord's issue, but in fact all the higher CR creatures I checked seem to be vastly off what their "expected" hit points and damage output was.

This gets compounded using the DMG's encounter design rules. At low levels it is not so bad, and the math seems good. An average challenge encounter for my group is 750 xp. That's one Owlbear, or 3 Scouts (100xp each, 3 creatures = x2 worth of XP budget). However, even that owlbear has half the Hit Points of what a CR 3 is supposed to have in the DMG.

The disparity gets worse at higher levels, and I think that shows the problem with the Monster Manuel statistics. My earlier example of a Mummy Lord, with 95 hit points, is going to get wrecked by a group of four level 16 PCs. In a single round, if not in a single character's actions. However that is a "average" challenge to that group. That encounter is heavily balanced toward the PCs. If you want to make it more of a challenge, you use multiple lower CRs, but you still get the same issue of hit points. Six Mind Flayers can be taken out with a single spell at that level, but is the same challenge as the Mummy Lord, though the fight might last a few extra rounds depending on the setup and such.

Is this a thing anyone else has noticed? Does the DMG invalidate the MM statistics?

I think a fix could be to retool the MM stats to the DMG stats, and of course, special abilities are worth more than hit points, but monsters need to live long enough to be able to use them. I don't think under CR 2 needs any tweaking. If you follow the DMG encounter building using MM statistics your PCs will feel less threat as they level, to the point of it being a Deadly encounter just to last more than a round at the highest levels. I don't think that was the intention.


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Beards man, Beards.
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Do you run your adventures as individual vignettes with each adventure beginning with an explanation of the icons involved and why the characters are there? Or maybe in a string of adventures without downtime in a more traditional style.

Or maybe you do something in between?

My first 13th Age game was more of how the core book seemed to imply it, with linked adventures but downtime and a short preface before each adventure to explain why the icons were involved.

I then did a megadungeon game which took place in one location, so the icons took less of a role and so ran it as a series of "to be continued..."

Finally the current online game I am running is more of a mash between the two, with adventures interlinked within a larger narrative more like an adventure path.
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