Friday, May 25, 2012

Beacon 5.1

I updated the PDF so get your new copy.  The changes are mostly dealing with better electronic navigation via a proper PDF outline and changes to how HP work and the amount you get to start.  Also some layout changes to fit revised text.  Let me know if you find any weird complicated paragraphs or any other comments you might have.
Small changes to the rules (which is why it's 5.1 draft) but maybe some big impacts - especially to starting character power levels.  You farmboys won't be wading into a gang of goblins with impunity any more.

Aside from playtesting I think this baby is almost done.  I look forward to doing the playtests fixing whats broke and then making a real Beacon release 1 (no more draft versions!) and moving on to work on other game stuff.  Maybe that setting material...

Note: I noticed that ACKS also recently added an outline to their PDF - probably not because I called them on it back in this post but maybe.  Really people, if you do a PDF - do an outline - it's easy to do and sooooo much nicer for people using tablets and phones.

Additional Note:  If you do print it out and have a decent duplex printer, try printing it booklet mode on legal paper - that's my favourite format and fits nice in the hands.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

PC Hit Dice

Since I am updating starting HP I was looking at using d6 for hit points.  Using a d6 for Player Character advancement essentially makes players d6 HD monsters.  I was considering maybe swapping this up to a d8 to give player character hit-points a little boost (mostly concerned about magic use here) but then it occurred to me that I should make PC hit dice variable again.  Not a class based variable however - that's not the direction I wanted to go in even though it's traditional.  No I took a quick look at the monster lists and realized that this should be a race based variable.  Basically if a player chooses a dwarf then they should get the dwarf's hit die (d8).  In Beacon humans and dwarves have d8 and elves and halflings(also goblins) have d6.  I think this works splendidly and has the benefit of consistency and extrapolation since HD is being used as an indicator of physical toughness for monsters.  If you want to make a new playable race like orcs, kolbolds or gnolls- then you have their HD already.
I do worry that this will make dwarves much more popular race with a STR bonus coupled with d8 HD, especially for magic classes since their HP bonuses could be substantial - but I think that tweaking the race builds a bit will resolve that.  I'll look at the starting skill points and stuff. I also don't mind if Dwarves become more magical in Beacon campaigns, it will make them different than the beer swilling hammer-chuckers they so commonly get relegated to.  Fairy tale dwarves were great with magic.  This whole thing is becoming a bit more change to the game than I anticipated however.  More play testing required.

I also got in the wording for how hitpoints work, hopefully it's not too confusing for new players.
Hit Points (HP) are a measure of the character’s life force, luck, energy and/or fatigue and are used by players to avoid having their characters take actual damage.  When a character is in a situation where they are going to take damage (from a weapon hit or any other non-specific damage) they can choose to instead spend HP to avoid taking some of all of that damage.  HP reduce the damage taken on a point for point basis.  Some damage cannot be avoided this way, for example poisons or spells and effects that target specific stats. As HP are recovered much faster than damage, using HP to avoid damage is usually a good idea.  However there are some considerations when spending HP.
 ·         Players with less HP than their current level are fatigued and have -1 to all reaction rolls and can only move half their normal speed.
·         If a character’s HP reaches 0, they are uncon­scious and unable to stay awake if roused. 

I'm thinking that I should allow players to burn MIND and CHA to cast spells if they want to save some hit points - just the same as players can take damage to stay in the fight.  I really like the idea of choosing to take real damage to conserve HP and stay awake and I think it would be cool to extend this to casters too.  Having Merle the Mad Wizard lobbing off a emergency feather fall spell but loosing 3 points of MIND and taking days to recover seems awesome.  I just have to make sure that there isn't some sort of exploit here with restoration spells or something.  Of course, simply being able to do magic is pretty cool already so maybe this is too much.

Friday, May 11, 2012

LotFP hardcover is a go

Yes the Lamentations of the Flame Princess hardcover is a lock now and so I'm going to get my book and that's awesome.  If you were worried to support it because you didn't think it would get funded before, you can revisit the indiegogo campaign with confidence that this will happen and you can get you yourself a copy.  Plus if you want any of the nifty adventures he's offering at higher funding tiers you should start coughing up for them.  And if you haven't checked it out then you should - there's a new Frank Mentzer module on the list for god sake.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

An echo from the past

Way back in December I was talking about lowering starting hit points in order to bring first level characters more in line with the general level of monsters (that's both stuff you'd find in modules and the monsters in Beacon).  I was thinking that starting players with hp equal to STR + bonus +1d6  seemed more like 3-4th level in toughness and would have an easy time with the standard orcs and goblins.  I noticed during the playtest that I had to really pile on the goblins and hobgoblins for a challenge, and even then the players were pretty safe unless they rushed blindly into fights.  I don't want to inflate the monsters so I thought about lowering the starting HP to something more like 1/2 STR + bonus + 1d6.   I posted about this and The Bane commented:
The same thought had crossed my mind. But, since I am strongly considering a HP fueled Feat system I think I will stick with RAW. I had thought of giving the monsters the Strength starting HPs as an option.
Who wants a 15hp Goblin though. I think it would make combats more complicated. I don't know though.
In my interpretation, only 1d6 are actually "hp"s anyway. Hit Points won't be physical damage. Once those first 1d6 are gone then you are doing physical, mental, mobility, or social damage to the Player. 
HPs will recover quickly, Attribute damage will not...
I wasn't on the ball to realize just what he was saying back then but the dude was obviously rocking the Spice. If you follow my posts you can see over the last couple months as I slowly mulled this over independently I believe that I've hit on almost all of the same points he made way back then.  It was even suggested  in the last post to allow players to burn HP for 'feats' which I thought was an interesting direction to take.  Ha!  I originally dismissed the idea as too complicated!  I still don't know if I'd go as far as writing up feats but I have been considering other ways to spend HP that would be organic and allow other classes to benefit from the concept.

I never really liked using half STR for starting HP - that's not elegant. I also didn't like the idea using just STR + STR bonus and not rolling d6 for HP  That seems to be a double reward for high STR and the amount of HP is still way to high.  You also can't just remove the STR bonus to HP or the d6 because if you change the formula  the you are making an exception to the mechanic and I don't like exceptions.

What I believe now is that players should start with 6HP + STR bonus.  The d6 is represented here in giving players a best possible roll (they are heroes after all) as is the bonus from having a high STR.  What's not there is the initial HP boost from the STR stat and I think that that is fine.  In fact that's what was overloading the system and making the monsters too weak.  Characters still benefit from having a high STR because they become unconscious at 0 hp but they die at 0 STR.  What changed my mind on this was the recent thought that HP should be spent to avoid damage and not just automatically have damage lower HP - this means that players could use their STR as a buffer to take damage but still be able to stay in the game - take 3-4 points actual damage in order to have enough HP to go another round or cast one more spell.  Poison and spells or effects that directly target stats would not be impacted since only generic damage could be soaked this way.

Removing the STR component to HP will drastically drop the starting power of characters, and will be felt a lot by magic using characters but I don't think that's a huge issue because it balances all the characters back to a more reasonable start level which matches the strength of the monsters and NPCs.  I think that magic using characters were overpowered at the low levels compared to the other classes anyway.  Also you don't have to start at level 1 - that's just the lowest level available.  In fact starting at level 3 or 4 should be a very reasonable and common thing if you want to start your campaign with more capable characters and a bit more monsters and  magic going on.  Clawing back the level 1 HP simply allows a lower baseline for the sort of 'farmhands in the forest' campaigns that people like to run as well.

So I think that's the model I believe I'm going to go with -  characters at first level start with 6 + their STR bonus in HP, general damage does not automatically lower HP, but instead hit points are used to avoid STR damage.   Stat damage and stat recovery stays the same and 0 STR is what gets you dead.

I know I owe you an update, but I want it to be a good and proper update.