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rec.games.frp.dnd FAQ: 9/9 -- Gamespeak 2: For DM's Eyes

( Part1 - Part2 - Part3 - Part4 - Part5 - Part6 - Part7 - Part8 - Part9 )
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Archive-name: games/dnd/part9
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Last-modified: June 2002
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                            REC.GAMES.FRP.DND FAQ
                                   Part 9

                         Gamespeak 2: For DM's Eyes
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
* designates topics which have been updated.
+ designated topics which have been added.

For DM's Eyes
  K1: What books do I need in order to be a DM?
  K2: Which TSR campaign world should I use?  
  K3: 2ND: Stoneskin seems too unbalancing.  What can I do?
  K4: 2ND: What can I do about Bladesinging elves?
  K5: 2ND: What can I do to prevent psionics from really unbalancing a game?
  K6: How do you deal with critical hits?
      A)  Determination of criticals
      B)  Resolution of criticals
  K7: 2ND: What can I do to make crossbows as useful as normal bows?
  K8: How much do coins weigh?
  K9: What can I do to make the hit point system more true to life?
  K10: 2ND: The energy drain power of greater undead sucks.  What can I do?
  K11: 3RD: How do you apply multiple multipliers?
  K12: 3RD: Is caster level a prerequisite for creating magic items?
  K13: Where else can I look for info about being a Dungeon Master?
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

For DM's Eyes
K1:  What books do I need in order to be a DM?

A:  Unlike players, for whom it can be possible to play with just pencil,
    paper, and dice (if that), a DM generally (with some exceptions) needs
    a bit more in the way of rulebooks.  The minimum needed by most people
    to DM a satisfying *D&D game is: the DMG, the PH, and the Monstrous 
    Manual.  These three references are the core of the game; everything
    else just adds window dressing.

K2:  Which TSR campaign world should I use?

A:  Well, if you don't have the time, or don't wish to take the time and
    energy to create your own world, TSR has come out with a plethora of 
    choices of worlds for you to campaign in.  Here is a brief description 
    of each.

    Forgotten Realms:
      The Core Realms (Faerun):  The main section of the Realms is
    intended to be a generic *D&D world.  It has many similarities to
    medieval Earth.  It also has enormous cities, many countries with
    foreign flavors, hordes of NPC's, and more room to maneuver than
    you'll ever need.  There are also wild magic and dead magic zones,
    where magic can surge in power (and unpredictability) or not work at
    all.  There are also a lot of supplements out for the core Realms,
    and a lot more on the way.  The "Baldur's Gate" and "Icewind Dale"
    computer games are also both set in the Faerun of the Realms; the
    former in the Sword Coast area, the latter in the far north.
      Al-Qadim:  This setting is located far to the south of the core 
    Realms, but can easily be placed on any campaign world.  It 
    encompasses the genre of the Arabian Nights, with djinn, magic lamps, 
    Sinbad-like sailors, emirs, and the ever-present Hand of Fate.  It is 
    intended that players in Al-Qadim use Al-Qadim characters, but it is 
    possible to take "normal" characters into the Al-Qadim setting.
      Kara-Tur:  This setting is located far to the southeast of the core
    Realms, but like Al-Qadim, may be transported anywhere.  It is an
    "oriental" setting, with much of the flavor of ancient China, Japan, 
    and Mongolia.  There are martial arts, intrigue, highly civilized 
    areas, family honor, and wild horse-folk.  It is intended for use with 
    oriental characters, but "normal" characters can easily be worked in.
      Maztica:  This setting is located far to the west of the core realms
    and, unlike the previous settings, can only be reached via a long sea 
    voyage.  It is meant to represent the Americas during the time of the 
    Spanish conquistadors.  While it is possible to play a "conqueror" 
    from the core realms, it is intended that native characters be 
    created.  This setting has its own unique magic variant, which not 
    only changes the way priests and wizards operate, but many warriors as 
    well.

    Greyhawk:
      Greyhawk is the first widely-known campaign world.  Flip through the
    PH or DMG--most of the "name" spells and magic items originated in
    Greyhawk.  The world is essentially a general fantasy-genre world,
    similar in that way to the Forgotten Realms, but with its own very
    distinct flavor.  Since most of the modules published before the
    arrival of Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance are actually set in
    Greyhawk, there is a wealth of information out there for gaming
    purposes.  Also, TSR has begun using Greyhawk as a "default" world of
    sorts, so that modules that otherwise would not be set in any specific
    game world use Greyhawk's towns, deities, and NPCs.  Additionally, all
    of the examples in the new PH and DMG are set in Greyhawk, and
    all mentions of gods and locales use Greyhawk deities and Greyhawk
    locations.

    Dragonlance:
      The world of Krynn is fairly well-known, through the series of 
    novels and modules which started it.  Gold has little or no value 
    there, as the world is on a steel standard.  Clerics are relatively 
    unheard of as well, because the main focus for the world is the 
    ongoing battle between the deities Takhisis and Paladine; other 
    "normal" deities have been pretty much forgotten.  In addition, as the 
    name might suggest, dragons are more active here than elsewhere, as 
    they are strongly polarized on the Takhisis-Paladine battle.  There 
    are also several time periods to adventure in; the time of the War of 
    the Lance is only one.  Dragonlance: Fifth Age takes place long after
    the War of the Lance, and uses a completely different game system
    instead of AD&D.

    Spelljammer:
      In a nutshell, Spelljammer is *D&D in outer space, but in more of
    the swashbuckler pirate genre than a hard science fiction one.  Many 
    of the typical *D&D races of characters and villains are present, but 
    many behave very differently from any you may have met before.  In 
    addition, Spelljammer may include adventuring on many of the other 
    published game worlds, as spelljammers visit almost all of them from 
    time to time.

    Ravenloft:
      Ravenloft is a world of gothic horror.  It is located in the 
    Demiplane of Dread, and fairly reeks of evil.  Many who go there are 
    corrupted and never return.  Some new mechanics are fear and horror 
    checks.  A failed fear check involves running in abject terror.  A 
    failed horror check, well, lets just not talk about that right now.  
    The mists of Ravenloft often gather up unwary travelers and take them 
    to the demiplane, from whence half the fun is trying to find an exit 
    which supposedly doesn't even exist.
      Masque of the Red Death:  This setting is based on Ravenloft, but  
    with a twist; it is set in the equivalent of the Victorian-era--but 
    in a world where magic has existed since the very dawn of time.  
    There is a much higher technology level than most *D&D worlds, and 
    like Ravenloft, terror is everywhere, now aided by the after-effects 
    of the Industrial Revolution.  Every time a character casts a spell, 
    that character is drawn a step closer to the "Red Death," a powerful 
    force of evil in this world.  However, "Masque..." is technically a 
    separate game from *D&D which happens to use the Ravenloft rules.  
    Therefore it is not intended to be a place that "normal" *D&D 
    characters visit.  Not that that will stop many DM's from having them 
    do so anyway...

    Dark Sun:
      Athas is a metal-poor desert world, which by itself makes life quite 
    a challenge.  Add to that the fact that almost everyone on the planet 
    has some degree of psionic ability, and you get a pretty lethal world.
    Also, clerics are different from usual, in that they are either 
    templars who are granted spells by their sorcerer-kings or clerics who 
    gain spells by worshipping the elements around them.  Mages, too, are 
    changed; all magic is powered directly by the life force of the world 
    around them, which tends to be a detriment to the continued existence 
    of any plants and animals in the area.

    Planescape:
      This is basically the 2nd ed. revamp of the Manual of the Planes, 
    but it is much more than that, as well.  This setting is designed for
    entire campaigns run on the planes themselves, with all the 
    interesting beings that may involve.  Characters may belong to any of 
    a number of factions, which interact in a similar way to secret 
    societies in Paranoia.  Adventures are typically set in Sigil, an 
    enormous city in the neutral center of the planes, and involve visits
    to one or more of the other  planes.  It also comes with its own 
    lingo, so if you hear the occasional "cutter" (someone in the know) 
    or "berk" (someone not in the know) comments on the newsgroup, you'll
    know where they're from.

    Mystara:
      Mystara is the world which used to be the setting of Basic D&D, now
    altered to fit the AD&D rules.  Like the Realms and Greyhawk, it is a
    general high fantasy world with an individual flair.  It is unique 
    from the other worlds in that several of its supplements also came 
    with audio CD's for sound effects and storytelling.  The Red Steel
    and Savage Coast lines are also part of the world of Mystara

    Council of Wyrms:
      Ever wanted to have a dragon PC?  Well, now's your chance.  This
    campaign setting is located on a remote group of islands where dragons
    and half-dragons reign supreme, and the other races are minor players.

    Birthright:
      In this setting, the players are characters of noble birth.  They 
    must deal with intrigue, spying, wars, the occasional adventure, and 
    succession to the throne.  Special powerful magic spells whose power
    is drawn from the land one controls, as well as the possibility of 
    magical traits caused by royal bloodlines, are also thrown into the 
    mix.  It seems to be a mix of "normal" *D&D, tabletop miniature 
    wargaming, and Diplomacy.

    Diablo II:
      This setting is based on the computer game of the same name.
    It is essentially a typical high fantasy world, with plenty of evil-
    doers to challenge the heroes, lost treasure-hoards to uncover, and
    the like.  To this end, it has a greater-than-normal emphasis on
    combat and the accumulation of wealth and magic, though it also 
    retains plenty of opportunities for character interaction.

K3:  Stoneskin seems too unbalancing.  What can I do? (2ND)

A:  If the DM thoroughly reads the spell description, and uses a bit of
    imagination, the spell is actually quite balanced, as there are many 
    ways to damage and/or quickly remove layers of protection from a 
    character with stoneskin.  Some examples:

    Damage: any magical (i.e. spell) attack, such as *Fireball*, 
    *Lightning Bolt*, or *Magic Missile*, drowning, noxious gas, being 
    buried alive, psionics, and *Pick of Earth Parting*.  Many of these 
    also remove layers of protection; especially notable on this regard 
    are *Magic Missile* and *Melf's Minute Meteors*, which have the 
    possibility of removing multiple layers of protection per spell 
    casting.

    No damage, but still affect the character with stoneskin: lasso, net, 
    mancatcher, and bolas.  Once the character is tied up, netted, or 
    otherwise occupied, he is nowhere near as much of a problem.

    Quickly remove layers: unarmed combat, burning, darts & other missile 
    weapons with high ROF's, contact poison, acid, overbearing, multiple 
    attackers, multiple attacks (especially creatures with more than four
    attacks per round), falling down a steep incline, missed attacks.
    Missed attacks do indeed remove layers of protection, as per the spell
    description's use of the words "regardless of attack rolls" instead of
    "successful attacks." Many people also include handfuls of thrown
    pebbles, with each pebble removing one layer, but this is better left
    up to individual DM's, as it has good potential for getting obnoxious.
    
    However, if the spell still seems to unbalance your campaign, there 
    are many things you can do to tone it down a bit, any one of which 
    should be sufficient for your purposes.

    1) Be doubly sure to follow the spell description where it states that
    repeated castings of this spell on the same individual are not
    cumulative.

    2) Be sure to follow the official errata for the spell, which is also
    the way the spell is described in the High-Level Campaigns book, which 
    changed the duration to 24 hours or until the requisite number of 
    attacks is reached, whichever comes first.

    3) Make it Range: caster
    
    4) Designate it as a specialist Transmuters-only spell.

    5) Use the 1st ed. version of the spell (from UA); it is dispelled 
    after one attack or attack sequence.

    6) Have the caster's skin change to the color of stone so that it is 
    painfully obvious that he is wearing a stoneskin.

    7) Ban it altogether.

    8) Enforce the material components option for this spell; diamond dust 
    is going to be very hard to come by at best, and may often be 
    completely unavailable.  Even if it is available, it will be extremely
    expensive, anywhere around 200 gp-1000 gp per casting is possible.  
    Also, the mage in question becomes a good target for pickpockets if it 
    gets around that the mage in question carries a bag of diamonds, 
    albeit in dust form.

    9) Have every NPC mage wearing it as well.

K4:  What can I do about Bladesinging elves? (2ND)

A:  Simple.  Bladesinger is a kit.  Kits are optional.  Put your foot down
    and decide that bladesingers are an optional rule you do not wish to
    follow.  In fact, the entire Complete Book of Elves is optional, so 
    you may allow or disallow any portion of it.
      Of course, you could just grin and bear it, or you could pull a DM
    fiat and have some jealous dwarven god instantly strike dead every
    bladesinging elf that appears and hope that the players catch your
    subtle hints.
      If you actually go ahead and allow the Bladesinger, but later
    regret it, here are some tips to remember:

    1) Enemies can use ranged weapons, including spells, before the 
    Bladesinger can close.

    2) Undead and other creatures with special touch attacks or area
    effects (such as a dragon's *fear* aura) make good opponents, as the 
    Bladesinger must get within weapon range to combat them.

    3) Many creatures have corrosive effects on weaponry, such as oozes,
    puddings, slimes, and rust monsters; after all, what is a bladesinger
    without a blade?

      However, be careful in using these tips, as repeated use of these 
    techniques may lead to anger on the part of players who feel the DM 
    is making life harder for their characters than for the rest of the 
    party.  

K5:  What can I do to prevent psionics from really unbalancing a game? (2ND)

A:  Be doubly sure to have easy access to the Complete Psionics Handbook.
    Read it through completely, and have any players who wish to play
    psionicist characters do the same.  You may also want to look for
    The Will & the Way, a Dark Sun supplement that expanded greatly upon
    the basics of the Psionics Handbook.  Many people agree that, when
    followed correctly, these psionics rules are neither impractical nor
    imbalancing.  (And, with a little work, they can work for 1st edition
    games as well.)  Here are a few things you should do to keep a 
    campaign with psionicists a happy one:

    1) Many psionic powers seem incredibly powerful, e.g. Disintegrate.
    However, the automatic failure on a natural '20' offsets this nicely.
    No matter how earth-shattering the power of the psionicist becomes, 
    there's still a chance of the power backfiring and affecting the 
    psionicist himself instead.  A Sage Advice column explained that the 
    '20' rule is always in effect, even if the character has a power score
    above '20'; if a natural '20' is rolled, some sort of backfire occurs.

    2) If the constant 5% chance for backfire, regardless of level, seems
    to be a bit strict, remember that it does work to balance the innate
    power of some of the psionic abilities in much the same way that aging 
    effects and exotic spell components balance out the innate power of 
    wizards.

    3) Remember that many of the "most powerful" psionics effects grant
    saving throws to the victims.  This definitely helps prevent psionics 
    from becoming too out-of-control in a campaign.

      If you still think psionicists can still get too powerful, there are 
    a couple of things you can try to attempt to prevent this.

    1) If you feel that a flat 5% chance for backfire, regardless of 
    level, is too rough, especially for higher-level psionicists using 
    powers they have had for a long time, feel free to improvise and 
    down- (or even up-!) play the results of a backfire, depending on what 
    works in the situation at hand.

    2) Give saving throws whenever you feel it necessary, even for powers
    that don't normally allow saves.
     
    3) Using the d10+weapon speed individual initiative system (or even 
    just the plain d10 for each side system) allows for a good chance that
    a psionicist's concentration is lost due to sudden blood loss thus
    disrupting whatever power he was trying to use.

    4) Scrap the system of granting a spectacular result on a Power Score
    roll.  This tends to make players unhappy unless you also scrap the
    backfire on a '20' roll, but can work.  Of course, scrapping both
    systems can work just as well in some campaigns.

K6:  How do you deal with criticals?

A:  There are almost as many different ways of determining and resolving
    criticals as there are players.  Here is a selection of various 
    methods, in no particular order, gleaned from various postings on 
    rec.games.frp.dnd.  The standard 3rd edition rules for determination
    and resolution of criticals are included for comparison.

  A) Determination of criticals

    1) Backing a Critical: If a natural '20' is rolled, roll again.  If 
    the second number would have hit, then the '20' is considered a 
    critical hit.  If the second roll was too low, then the first was only 
    a normal hit.  Also, if a natural '1' is rolled, roll again.  If the 
    second roll is high enough to hit the creature, then the roll is 
    considered a normal miss. If the second was too low to hit the 
    creature, then the '1' is considered a critical miss. 

    VARIANTS:
      3rd edition standard rule: A natural '20' always hits, but is not
      always a critical hit.  All weapons (including the natural weapons
      of monsters, and spells which require a normal to-hit roll) have a
      "threat range", usually of "20", "19-20" or "18-20".  If a number in
      that range comes up on the die, and the result is a hit, then roll
      again.  If the second roll is also high enough to be a hit, then the
      first roll is considered a critical hit; otherwise the first roll is
      condidered a normal hit.

      Optionally, if you rule that critical hits result in double damage,
      if the second roll is also a '20' then roll a third time.  If the 
      third roll was sufficient to hit the creature, then the original 
      '20' is a critical and the damage is tripled.  Continue the pattern 
      as long as you wish.

      Also optionally, for certain powerful creatures, lower the reroll 
      number so that, for example, rolling a natural '19' or better 
      requires a second roll.  If the second roll is good enough to hit, 
      treat as above.  If you also use option 1B and the second roll is,
      for example, a '19' or better, then the critical does triple damage,
      and so on.

    2) Always Hits:  If a natural '20' is rolled, then that attack 
    automatically succeeds, and damage is rolled normally.  If a natural 
    '1' is rolled, that attack automatically misses.  No special critical 
    damage is awarded in either case.

    VARIANT:
      A natural '20' always hits, with normal damage, and a natural '1' 
      always misses.  However, in either case, roll again.  If the second 
      roll is identical to the first, then it is a critical.  If not, then 
      ignore the second roll.

    3) Extra Attack:  If a natural '20' is rolled, the character gets an
    immediate extra attack with that weapon, no matter what kind of 
    weapon, save those such as heavy crossbows that take more than one 
    round to use.

    4) Straight 20: If a natural '20' is rolled, and a '20' was not the 
    minimum number needed to hit, then it is a critical.  If a natural '1' 
    is rolled, it is a critical.

    5) Over the Top: If a 20 is rolled, roll again and add the two results 
    together.  If the combined total is greater than the minimum needed to 
    hit by 10 or more, then it's a critical.  If a 1 is rolled, roll again 
    and subtract.  If the combined total is 10 or more less than what is 
    needed to hit, then it's a critical.

    VARIANTS:
      If a natural '20' is rolled, roll again and add the result to '19;' 
      the same end result as above is needed to hit.  I.e., if a character 
      needs a '22' to hit, the character must roll a natural '20,' 
      followed by a minimum roll of '3.'  A total of 10 higher than the 
      minimum needed to hit still results in a critical hit.

      If a natural '20' is rolled, roll again and add the new result to 
      '19.' If the second roll is also a '20,' roll again.  If the third 
      roll is a natural '20,' then it is considered a critical hit.

      Combat & Tactics optional rule: If a natural '18' or higher is
      rolled and the to-hit number, after any bonuses, is 5 or more than
      the minimum needed to hit, then it is a critical hit.

  B) Resolution of criticals
      In all cases that result in a critical hit or miss, they can be 
    resolved by any of the following: 

    1) Chartbuster: Use your favorite chart; Best of Dragon V and
    Combat & Tactics are good places to look.

    2) Double Damage I: Double the damage on critical hits and damage 
    yourself on critical misses.
    
    VARIANT:
      Combat & Tactics optional rule: Double the rolled damage, and do 
      any other multipliers necessary (such as for charging or 
      backstabbing), then add any damage bonuses.

    3) Double Damage II: When a natural '20' is rolled, roll damage twice; 
    i.e., if damage die is 1d8, roll 2d8.

    VARIANT:
      3rd edition standard rule: When a critical hit is rolled, each weapon
      has a "multiplier" that tells the number of times to roll damage.
      For example, "x2" means roll damage twice, "x3" means roll damage
      three times (i.e., if damage die is 1d8, roll 3d8).

    4) Double Damage III: A roll of natural '20' always hits, and damage 
    is rolled normally. However, if a character rolls the maximum damage 
    (i.e. '6' on a d6), no matter if it was a to-hit roll of natural '20' 
    or not, roll damage again, but subtract 2 from the second roll; 
    negative numbers are equal to '0.'  If the maximum is rolled again, 
    roll again and subtract 2 from the third roll.  Keep going until the 
    highest number on the damage die doesn't come up.

    5) Full Damage: Do full weapon damage on critical hits and full damage 
    to yourself on critical misses 

    6) Random Multiplier: On a roll of natural 20, the player rolls 
    damage, adding any bonuses he might have. He then rolls a d6, 
    multiplying the damage done by the result. 

    7) Dexterity Check: If a natural one is rolled on an attack roll, roll 
    a DEX check at half DEX (or a number the DM assigns in the case of a 
    monster). If the check is made the attack simply misses.  If it fails 
    a fumble occurs, and any remaining attacks for that round are lost. In 
    addition, every opponent who is in melee with the character who 
    fumbled and/or any opponent who is aiming a missile or hurled weapon 
    at this person gets an immediate free attack at +4 to hit, due to the 
    poor character leaving himself wide open.

    8) Lose an Attack: On a roll of a 1, the attacker fumbles and misses
    out on 1 attack.  This means that a fighter with multiple attacks or 
    someone with more than one weapon loses the next attack that round, 
    and someone with only one attack per round may not attack during the 
    next round. 

    9) D10 Method:  Roll 1d10.  If the result is 1-8, then the weapon does  
    its maximum damage.  If the result is 9-10, the weapon does double
    damage.
    
    10) On a roll of natural '1,' you lose your weapon.

    11) If a natural '20' is rolled, the attacker rolls again.  If the 
    second roll is higher than the attacker's level/HD, then it is a 
    normal hit. If the second roll is lower than the attacker's level/HD, 
    then the defender rolls.  If this roll is lower than the defender's 
    level/HD, then the hit does maximum damage. If this roll is higher 
    than the defender's level/HD, then roll on your favorite critical hit 
    chart for the results.

    12) Free attack: If a natural '20' is rolled, damage is resolved 
    normally.  However, the character immediately gets a free attack, 
    unless a natural '20' was required to hit in the first place.  If a 
    natural '20' is rolled on the free attack, then the character gets 
    another free attack, and so on.

    13) When resolving crits where another dice roll indicates whether 
    extra damage is done, STR bonuses, magical weapon bonuses, etc. are 
    added after the "extra" damage has been added to the rolled damage.

    14) On a roll of natural '1,' the attacker must make a DEX check at -1 
    to -4, depending on the situation, or drop the weapon and lose 
    initiative for the next round.  If the DEX check is made, the 
    character simply loses initiative for the next round.

    15) Any combination of any part of 1-14.

K7:  What can I do to make crossbows as useful as normal bows? (2ND)

A:  If you wish to change the damage value of crossbows, here is a
    suggestion, averaged and smoothed out from many responses to the 
    issue, and relatively balanced with respect to other weapons:
            
            S/M      L
    Hand    1d4    1d4-1
    Light  1d6+1   1d8+1
    Medium 1d8+1  1d10+1
    Heavy  1d10+1  2d6+1

      The Combat & Tactics book of optional rules deals with this 
    situation in a similar manner; the hand crossbow is 1d3/1d2, the 
    light crossbow is the same as is listed here, there is no medium 
    crossbow listed, and the heavy crossbow is the same as is listed 
    under medium here.  It also adds the pellet crossbow, which fires
    a pellet which does 1d4/1d4.

      If you wish to change the entire way crossbows are handled, here are 
    a few suggestions to mix and match:

    1)  Make longbows 2 proficiencies to learn and 1 to specialize.
    
    2)  Change the nonproficient penalty by +1 for crossbows and -1 for 
    long bows.  Thus the to hit penalties for bows become:
                 
                 Warrior  Wizard  Priest/Rogue
        Longbow    -3       -6         -4
        Short bow  -2       -5         -3
        Crossbow   -1       -4         -2
    
    3)  Make all crossbows +1 to hit, due to ease of use.
    
    4)  When resolving a hit with a crossbow, treat all armors with an AC 
    of 4 or less as if they were AC 5 (add any magic bonuses after doing 
    this).  This can also be used for longbows.
    
    5)  When resolving a hit with a crossbow, treat all armors as if they 
    were three slots worse, to a maximum of AC 10. This can also be used 
    with longbows.
    
    6)  Give all crossbows and long bows relative strength values; use the
    Strength to hit and damage bonuses when using the bow.  For longbows, 
    the strength value is also the minimum strength needed to draw the 
    string.  For all bows, use the respective damage dice listed in the 
    PH.
    
    7)  Use the optional rule for weapon type vs. armor type from the PH 
    and treat all crossbow quarrels & longbow arrows as "piercing"
    weapons; remember that the number is a bonus to hit only, not a bonus 
    to damage as well.
    
    8)  When using the damage dice listed in the PH, treat crossbows as
    arquebuses for the method of determining damage; i.e. if the maximum
    damage is rolled, roll again and add the results.  Keep doing this 
    until a lower number is rolled.  This method may be used for any 
    missile weapon that does not involve direct muscular effort, i.e. 
    crossbows, ballistae, and atlatls could work this way, but short and 
    long bows, and hurled weapons would not.

    9) Use the optional armor penetration rule for light and heavy 
    crossbows from the Combat & Tactics book, which worsens the AC of an 
    armored opponent by 2 at medium range and by 5 at short range.

K8:  How much do coins weigh?

A:  In first edition AD&D, ten coins weighed one pound, regardless of 
    what metal the coins are made of.  In second and third edition AD&D,
    fifty coins weigh one pound, regardless of what metal the coins are
    made of (DMG2, p. 134; DMG2R, p. 181; PH3, p. 96).  This should result
    in coins of different sizes, with copper pieces being much larger than
    gold pieces due to the weight difference between the two metals; while
    there is no mention of any such distinction in the second edition rules,
    the third edition rules directly state that all standard coins are the
    same size.
      Historically speaking, coins of different denominations were of
    varying weights and sizes--making an accurate scale a merchant's best
    friend--and you may wish to introduce this detail into your campaigns,
    as well as naming the different denominations something other than "gold
    pieces" and "copper pieces", in order to add more local flavor.

K9:  What can I do to make the hit point system more true to life?

A:  The *D&D system intentionally simplifies combat as much as possible.
    See the previous Section for details and suggestions for combat in 
    general.  If you are concerned about a higher level character's 
    good chances of surviving an attack by a mob while wearing nothing 
    but a loin cloth and while tied to a stake, or surviving at ground
    zero of a thermonuclear explosion, read on.
      The hit point system works as is, if you keep a couple of things
    in mind when dealing with characters with hit points to spare.
    
    1) Overbearing: As outlined in the PH & DMG, overbearing is an
    excellent way for a group of low or 0-level characters to 
    incapacitate a tougher opponent (such as a high level PC who can 
    take a blow or four from any normal weapon and ignore it).  Once 
    incapacitated (pinned to the ground by sheer weight of bodies), 
    the victim can be knocked out, tied up, gravely injured, or even 
    killed with much less difficulty than normal, as there is a +4 to 
    hit bonus for prone characters.  Even a high level fighter will 
    think twice about trying to take on a group of people single-
    handed after suffering such an ignominious defeat; his high
    number of hit points will do him no good.

    2) Entanglement: Some weapons are excellent for entangling a 
    character's limbs, thus preventing normal actions, or even resulting
    in a fall.  Chains, ropes/lassos, and nets are good examples of this. 
    The Combat & Tactics book outlines the "Pull/Trip" maneuver, which
    is one method of achieving this; it also describes the game effects
    of several "non-standard" weapons (like chains & lassos).  Since 
    these attacks do not have much direct effect on hit points, a high
    number of hit points will not be nearly as important as in one-on-one
    combat.  Also, if a victim is completely entangled and tied down,
    the DM may rule that that counts as "held", and thus all attacks
    automatically succeed.
    
    3) 2ND: Sap: A sap is both a maneuver and a specific weapon; both are
    described in the Combat & Tactics book.  When using the weapon, 
    or anything similar (like the flat side of a sword), one makes
    a called shot to the head, with -4 penalty for a called shot (an
    additional -4 if the victim is wearing a helm).  If the attack
    is successful, there is a 5% chance per point of damage done (40%
    maximum) that the victim is knocked out for 3d10 rounds.  Due to
    the to hit penalties, this is best attempted in conjunction with
    one of the above situations, as then there are bonuses to counter
    the called shot penalty, as well as the opportunity for more than
    one character to attempt a sap per turn, increasing the possibility
    that a knockout is achieved.  Once knocked out, the victim is
    considered "sleeping", and all further attacks automatically
    succeed.
    3RD: Strike to Subdue: A strike to subdue is the same concept as the
    above "sap" maneuver, but with different resolution.  Instead, such
    attacks do "subdual" damage; if the amount of subdual damage a
    character has taken is ever more than his remaining hit points (not
    total hit points), the character is knocked out.  Subdual damage goes
    away at the rate of 1 point per hour per character level.

    4) Missile attacks: An attack by a single bowman may not faze a 
    character with a lot of hit points much, but a group of longbowmen or 
    crossbowmen at medium range, or in sniper positions, will cause any 
    intelligent character to fear for his life.  If enough arrows are 
    fired into a given area in a single round, chances are that some of 
    them will hit.  If this continues for multiple rounds (which is a 
    good bet if there is any sort of range between the bowmen & the
    character, or in the case of snipers), any character, no matter 
    how many hit points they started out with, will not feel so hot.  
    Crossbows have the additional bonus of being able to punch through 
    armor, according to the optional Combat & Tactics rules.  This is one
    of the quicker ways to reduce hit points.
    
    4) Be sure to watch out for situations that may result in automatic 
    or near-automatic hits.  The above are some examples of this; there
    very well may be others.

    5) Memorize the combat bonuses table, and apply them judiciously.
    Many otherwise "intolerable" situations would be helped if the PC had 
    a greater chance of being hit.  

    6) Intelligent opponents: Be sure to play opponents intelligently, 
    unless the situation dictates otherwise.  Villagers should know that 
    going toe-to-toe with a grizzled war veteran is not a smart move, 
    and thus will take actions accordingly if they wish to attack him.  
    Mob actions, sniper fire, and deadfalls are all examples of 
    tactics 0-level characters can use.  Creatures or characters fighting 
    on their home turf should know exactly where to stage pitched battles
    and when to flee to a more favorable combat arena.  Higher ground and
    staircases are prime examples of this.

    7) Fudge: Either keep track of all hit points yourself, or 
    retroactively add on to or subtract from opponents' hit point 
    totals, and thus make battles last as long or as short as seems 
    appropriate.  If you are keeping track of all hit points, then 
    players don't get cocky from knowing that they have enough hit 
    points to grin and bear an attack.

    8) Remember that any character who receives 50 or more points of
    damage from a single attack and survives must immediately make a
    fortitude saving throw (2ND: save vs. death) or die from the sudden,
    intense shock.

      However, if you decide that the system simply does not work for 
    you as is, there are a number of options you might try.  
    
    1) Assign a certain percentage of the character's hit points to the 
    torso, head, and each limb.  Then use hit location rules.  This 
    works best with no increase or slow increase in character hit 
    points.  It also increases the effectiveness of called shots.

    2) Whatever a character rolls for hit points for 1st level are
    that character's "body points"; all others gained through normal
    advancement are "fatigue points".  Certain types of attacks &
    certain spells automatically affect only the body points;
    otherwise, the fatigue points are affected first.  When all fatigue
    points have been lost, the character loses consciousness; when all
    body points are lost, the character dies.

    3) As for #2, but rather than having certain attacks target the body
    points, one body point is lost for every (Level) points of damage
    taken.  The rest is subtracted from the fatigue points.
    
    4) Don't give increases in hit points for level advancement.

    5) Reduce the hit point increase for level advancement, giving
    characters an extra hit die at every other level or every third
    level.
    
    6) Hit points are rolled as normal.  All hit points up to the 
    character's CON are "body points" and the rest are "skill points."  
    Damage will be taken from the skill points first, unless the to-hit 
    roll was 5 or more than needed or a saving throw is missed by 5 or 
    more, in which case the damage is split evenly between the skill 
    points and the body points.  Skill points are recovered at 
    (character's level/day); body points are recovered at 
    (CON bonus+1/day, maximum of 3) starting the day after all skill 
    points have been recovered.

    7) Change the hit dice used for each class; for example, reducing
    all classes by one die, with mages getting 1d3.

    8) Give damage bonuses or even multipliers for some situations, such 
    as those listed in the PH & DMG as giving to hit bonuses.  Possibly
    even give damage bonuses or multipliers to some weapons, such as 
    bows or crossbows used at point-blank range.
    
    9) Reduce the availability and/or effectiveness of healing magics, so
    that when a character gets hurt, he won't be immediately up to full
    strength for the next encounter, and may start thinking twice about
    head-on combat.  Lasting injuries (scars, wounds that refuse to heal,
    and the like) are also good ways of keeping characters humble.

    10) Critical hits: If you are concerned about characters with a lot of
    hit points shrugging off combat as too easy, start using a critical
    hit system.  Most include ways for even 0-level characters to do 
    significant amounts of damage with one good hit.  Those systems that 
    have location-specific results will increase the effectiveness of
    called shots, and increase the chance of a character losing the use
    of his sword arm, for example.  Smart characters will think twice 
    before charging into combat.

    11) Make characters who lose more than half of their hit points in
    a single round roll for system shock, losing consciousness if they 
    fail.

    12) Any combination of the above.

    A warning for options 1 through 5: if you take one of these options, 
    you will most likely have to rewrite the damage dice for weapons table 
    as well as the damage done by certain spells, such as fireball, which 
    could then kill every character every time, regardless of whether or 
    not a save was made.
    
K10: The energy drain power of greater undead sucks.  What can I do? (2ND)

A:  You bet it does.  That's part of the problem, you see.  In any case,
    the chief out-of-game reason that is ascribed to this ability is so
    that there are some creatures out there that characters will fear,
    and rightly so, each and every time such creatures are encountered.
    Also, just as hit points are a measure of health, levels are a 
    measure of the soul's vitality or some such ephemeral quality.  As 
    in normal combat, 0-level characters won't last nearly as long on 
    the average as high-level characters will.
      The chief in-game explanation is that the touch of an evil 
    creature with such close ties to the Negative Material Plane has a
    profound effect on a character; in much the same way that a
    character in a campy horror film gets permanently white hair and 
    stutters and shakes uncontrollably after a ghostly encounter, a
    *D&D fighter has his confidence shaken by feeling the touch of death 
    and the loss of soul energy that goes with it and so can't fight 
    quite as well, a wizard can't quite keep his thoughts straight enough 
    to cast higher level spells, a priest has lost some confidence in his 
    deity so that some spells just won't work, a thief's hands shake when 
    performing certain activities, and anyone so affected is generally 
    unable to perform at their past level of achievement, even to the 
    point of 'unlearning' many things, due to the severing of pathways in 
    the mind by the momentary connection to the Negative Material Plane.  
    Also, all affected characters lose some of the vitality & energy they 
    once enjoyed, so they don't quite move as fast or as well, are 
    somewhat more susceptible to disease, and can't take nearly as much 
    damage before blacking out.  With time and experience, confidence and 
    composure can be regained; however, it is not uncommon for such 
    experiences to deeply scar a character, possibly even to the point of 
    giving up their previous life and becoming a hermit or the town
    lunatic or mystic.
      An alternate (or parallel) in-game explanation is that level-
    draining undead have strong ties to the Negative Material Plane, and 
    are essentially negatively-charged objects, and void of life.  Living 
    beings' souls are charged with the positive power of life; gaining 
    experience increases the positive charge.  When something with a 
    positive charge comes in contact with the undead being by being
    struck by the undead creature, part of the positive flows into the 
    void of the negative, leaving the positively-charged being with a 
    lower charge than before (fewer levels), and partially filling the 
    void in the undead (so it can "feed" on the energy gained).  Any  
    knowledge that was gained with the energy that is drained is also 
    lost.  Further experience or magic can be employed to recharge the 
    character and relearn abilities; otherwise, the energy level will 
    remain at the current level.  Lower-level characters have lower 
    starting levels of positive energy, and so can be drained faster 
    than characters with higher levels of energy.  
      However, many players believe that these lines of reasoning do not 
    make sufficient sense; these people wish to find some other way of 
    expressing the effect that strong undead should have on characters.
    If you are one of these people, here are some quick suggestions (note 
    that in all cases with alternatives to level drain, *Restoration* 
    automatically reverses all effects):

    1) Drain stats rather than levels.  CON is usually the best choice, 
    but STR & DEX are close seconds.  Different types of undead may 
    drain different stats.

    2) Drain hit points, which then don't heal as normal.  Either
    make the hp drain is permanent, or increase the time for natural 
    healing by a factor of 10.

    3) Give the character a curse, which changes from undead to undead.
    Vampires might bestow a lesser form of vampirism, wights a taste for
    human flesh, spectres a case of magical gangrene that becomes
    insubstantial as it rots, and so on.

    4) Age the character, the number of years depending on the type of 
    undead encountered.

    5) Have energy drain affect hit points and saving throws as per
    normal, but not THAC0, proficiencies, and spells.  If hit points
    are regained over time rather than with magic, subtract one from each
    roll for more hit points until the previous level of experience has 
    been regained.

    6) Keep track of hit point gains for each level, and subtract the
    number that was initially gained (including CON bonuses) for the 
    particular level that was lost.

    7) Have the character make a system shock roll or a save vs. 
    paralyzation.  If the roll is failed, the character loses a level.

    8) Make the drain only temporary.  Lost levels are regained at a
    certain rate, such as (xp lost divided by 6) per month, or one level
    per one month of compete bed rest.

    9) Have all skills return automatically, without need for training
    again, and give bonuses to any rolls to relearn spells.

    10) Alter the non-corporeal undead, such as wraiths and spectres,
    so that instead of draining levels, they can ignore armor; all
    opponents are treated as AC 10 plus any DEX adjustments.  Magical
    armor adds only its plus to this number.  Thus, a character with a
    15 DEX wearing *plate +1* would be treated as having an AC of 8 when
    facing a spectre.

    11) Instead of being drained of existing experience levels, the
    victim receives a cumulative -10% xp penalty each time he is struck
    by level-draining creatures.  (Stronger or weaker undead may cause
    this penalty to be larger or smaller.)  If a the penalty reaches 100%,
    the character dies.  The penalty is reduced by 10% for each level the
    drained character gains thereafter, as the character naturally
    overcomes the effects of the soul drain.  The *Restoration* spell
    instantly reduces this penalty to 0%.    

K11: How do you apply multiple multipliers? (3RD)

A:  Since multipliers aren't actually "multipliers," but rather represent
    extra dice, they do not work the same as they would with normal
    mathematics.  "x2" does not mean "multiply the damage by 2", but rather
    means "roll damage an extra time"; "x3" does not mean "multiply the
    damage by 3", but rather means "roll damage two extra times".
      To figure out the proper multiplier to use when several of them
    affect a single damage roll, subtract one from each multiplier, add
    all of the results together, and add one to the total.  For example,
    if you are using a lance from the back of a charging horse (x2) with
    Spirited Charge (x2), and achieve a critical hit (x3), the result is
    (2-1) + (2-1) + (3-1) + 1 = x5.  Another way to do the math is to take
    the first (or highest) multiplier as is, subtract one from all of the
    others, and add the results together.  In the above example, this
    would be 2 + (2-1) + (3-1) = x5.

K12: Is caster level a prerequisite for creating magic items? (3RD)

A:  Not directly, no.  The "Caster Level" listed for magic items is
    the default level used for level-dependent effects (such as duration)
    and dispelling of magic items for random magic items found over the
    course of an adventure. (It could, if the DM chose, also be used for
    determination of saving throw DCs, but the normal rule for that is
    to use the minimum needed for the spell.) The Caster Level for a
    /Pearl of Power/ is 17th, which is the default caster level (for
    dispelling, and similar purposes) for random /Pearls of Power/ found
    in dungeons.  (In this case, it is 17th in part because that is the
    level needed to cast 9th level spells and thus be able to create any
    /Pearl of Power/.) Some magic items also have caster level
    prerequisites; this information is then also listed in the
    "Prerequisites" section of the description.
      For a single character doing all the work of creation, the minimum
    caster level necessary to create a magic item is the level required
    for the necessary item creation feat, or the minimum needed to cast
    the highest level spell listed as a prerequisite, whichever is
    higher.  Thus, a wizard creating a /Pearl of Power/ for 1st level
    spells must be at least 3rd level to do so, as the item requirement is
    the ability to cast 1st level spells, and the minimum level at which a
    wizard can gain the feat is 3rd.
      However, that's just the price for entry; the person creating the
    item can then set the level the item acts at as high or low as is
    desired and possible.  A wizard creating a /Wand of Magic Missiles/
    must be at least 5th level to do so, as the minimum level to cast the
    spell is 1st level and the minimum level at which the wizard can take
    the feat is 5th. If the wizard in question is 9th level, he can set the
    "caster level" of the wand at anything between 1st and 9th, with all
    level-dependent effects being set accordingly.  If he picked 9th, to
    get 5 magic missiles  per charge, the "Caster Level" listing of the
    magic item description would be 9th, even though the minimum necessary
    to create the item was only 5th.  If he picked 1st, in order to save on
    costs, the "Caster Level" listing of the magic item description would
    be 1st, even though the minimum necessary to create the item was
    actually 5th.
      If multiple characters are working together to create an item, then
    the minimums vary by which task each character does; the one who
    supplies the feat must meet the feat's minimum, each one who provides
    a spell must meet the spell's minimum, and so forth.  The end result
    can then have any "Caster Level" within the limits of the spells
    involved and the level of the character who is the primary creator.

K13: Where else can I look for info about being a Dungeon Master?

A:  There is a very interesting FAQ about DMing, complete with tips,
    tricks, and things to do & not do, with something for any level of
    experience as a DM.  Written by lucifer (No, not that one,
    lucifer@infernal.demon.ac.uk), it can be found at
    <http://www.egms.org/faqs/dming/dmfaq.htm>.

***End Part 9***
***End FAQ***


-- 
Aardy R. DeVarque
Feudalism: Serf & Turf
Rec.games.frp.dnd FAQ: http://www.enteract.com/~aardy/faq/rgfdfaq.html

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM