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 Heart of Fury Mode

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cavalier973
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PostSubject: Heart of Fury Mode   Sat Jul 12, 2014 9:22 pm

Here are some house rules for making 4th Edition Essentials more difficult for the players. You know you want to, you rodent of uncertain parentage, you.

#1. Change the Ability Modifiers
•Why would one do this? In order to tone down the heroic feel of the characters during early levels. There is a certain charm to the idea of mundane commoners picking up a pitchfork to barely drive off the goblin bandits, then continuing on to become legends in their own time.
•How would one do this? Well, there are two options for this. Option 1 is to limit the ability scores to 14 or below (before adding racial ability bonuses). Instead of the Standard Array of 16, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, use 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8 (in other words, subtract 2 from each ability score before racial bonuses). A character would be able to get no more than a 16 in any ability score during character generation. If one wanted to be more stringent, cap the ability scores at 14. This would make life much more difficult for the adventurers.
Option 2 would be to keep the Ability Scores, but gig the modifiers. Rules as written have the modifier calculation as: Ability Score - 10, divide by 2, round toward zero. Basically, there is a +1 modifier bonus for every two points above 10. Change this to: Ability Score - 10, divide by 4, round toward zero. This would mean that an ability score of 18 would only get the character a +2 bonus. To move up to a +3 bonus, the character would have to invest into the ability score until it rises to a 22 (which he wouldn't reach until level 14, assuming the score was initially 18).

#2. Change the Weight Loads
•Why would one do this? To increase the importance of resource management in the game. Again, this brings the characters more down to earth, and implements a new dimension of decision making for the players, i.e. Do I drop some piece of equipment in order to carry an extra bag of coins? Also, it would give a legitimate reason for adventurers to take on hirelings and henchmen, as described in Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium.
•How would one do this? By simply halving the amount of weight a character can carry. Rules as Written have the normal load that a character can tote around be equal to 10 times the character's Strength Score. Instead, have the normal load equal to 5 times the character's Strength Score. A strength of 18, therefore, would have a normal load of 90, with a weight between 90 and 180 be considered a heavy load, and a maximum load of 450 (18 X 25).

#3. Slow down Healing Surge Recovery
•Why would one do this? To increase the resource management aspect of the game. Rules as Written has characters regain all their healing surges at the end of an extended rest which fits very well with the heroic and superheroic flavor of play. Extending the amount of time it takes for a character to recover all his healing surges adds an element of tension to the game that can be enjoyable.
•How would one do this? Instead of allowing the characters to recover all their healing surges, make recovery dependent on the circumstances in which the characters find themselves when taking a rest. If they are holed up in the dungeons, perhaps they only recover a number of healing surges equal to a quarter of their total healing surges. Make camp, and add +1 to the number. Stay in a cheap inn, and add +2. Stay in the most expensive room in the finest hotel (or stay as a guest at the house of some wealthy noble or merchant), and get +3. Stay in a hospital, and recover all healing surges during one extended rest.

#4. Cut the starting equipment
•Why would one do this? To be mean, of course.
•How would one do this? Instead of a starting amount of 100 gold coin, characters begin with 50 gold coins. Instead of being able to venture forth with a set of plate armor, shield, and longsword, the knight might have to make do with chainmail, a light shield, and a short sword. Alternatively, he could buy better armor and weapons, ditch the "Adventuerer's Kit", and hope to find food and water in the dungeons.
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PostSubject: Re: Heart of Fury Mode   Sat Jul 12, 2014 9:26 pm

One thing the rules don't really account for is Defenses.  Shanking the Ability scores drive down the Fort, Ref, and Will defenses.

I posted these on another forum, and they were universally reviled, so I knew I had a winner.
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PostSubject: Re: Heart of Fury Mode   Sun Jul 13, 2014 7:23 am

I never enjoyed that style of play in previous editions (indeed its why 4E is the first edition of D&D I didn't abandon within less than a year of starting it) so I'm really not one to judge. If I wanted to play a commoner I'd just go enjoy my real life.

Hope your rules work for you and your players don't leave you strung up over the gaming table (KotDT reference). Let us know how it goes.

ETA: Some additional thoughts on ability scores.

Definitely go with the limiting the ability scores to 14 pre-racial over changing the ability bonuses to (score-10)/4 (round down). The former simply puts you on the low end of the math expectations for the entire game. The second causes you to fall progressively further behind the math expectations as you continue to level up.

For example, by level 14 the characters are expected to have a 20-24 in their key attributes (i.e. +5 to +7 modifier). Limiting scores to 14 pre-racial will limit the PC's to a maximum of 20 (+5) at level 14. Cutting the ability bonus in half will put even characters that started with a 24 in their key attribute at just a +3 modifier... two behind even the low end of what the math expects you to have.

Mathematically, cutting the ability modifier bonus in half is more severe than simply banning expertise feats from the game in terms of their effect on characters falling behind as they level up. By level 28, when PC's are expected to have key ability scores of 26-30 (+8 to +10), your PC's would have, at most, a +5 and be three points behind even the low end of the math expectations for the game (and more like 4-5 points behind a typical PC).

Actually, a better way than limiting your PC's to 14's pre-racial would be to cut the number of points you receive to purchase your ability scores with down to say 16 points (instead of the usual 22). This would allow someone to have one really good score, but at the cost of everything else being 10's or even 8's; tanking their defenses and skills to be good at one single thing... or they can go with 12-14's in several abilities for more rounded defenses while still being weaker than the standard 4E PC's.
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PostSubject: Re: Heart of Fury Mode   Sun Jul 13, 2014 7:37 pm

I forgot to mention to use 13th Age's "Escalation Die" to fill the gap between Regular Mode and "Heart of Fury" mode.

The main rule I would use would be to cut the weight loads by half (an 18 STR has a normal load of 90 lbs instead of 180 lbs, etc.).
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PostSubject: Re: Heart of Fury Mode   Tue Jul 15, 2014 4:17 pm

Doesn't cutting the pre-racial ability modifiers limit which races can even be effective in a class? Especially against the games preloaded math?
The only races for fighter will be those with +2 strength, the only wizards will be those will +2 int. I enjoy that in 4E, any race can be made to be at least fair in any class even if not optimized.
I gotta echo Chris on this one. I enjoy playing big damn heroes. I enjoy DMing for big damn heroes. I like a heroic game.
If you want to start small, try the level 0 character rules that were published in Dragon.

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PostSubject: Re: Heart of Fury Mode   Tue Jul 15, 2014 11:16 pm

Durriken wrote:
Doesn't cutting the pre-racial ability modifiers limit which races can even be effective in a class?  Especially against the games preloaded math?
The only races for fighter will be those with +2 strength, the only wizards will be those will +2 int.  I enjoy that in 4E, any race can be made to be at least fair in any class even if not optimized.
To be fair, all limiting the ability modifiers does is shift the expectations for hit percentages and damage to lower than normal. If the highest you can get pre-racial mods is 14 in his game then that 14 is the same for his game as putting an 18 in that score in a standard game (i.e. the max allowable stat). It just means that 16 is max, 14 is good and 12 is the low end of his math expectations and monsters will be correspondingly tougher.

Mechanically though, you'd probably get much better results in line with the feel he wants simply by using monsters 2-3 levels higher than normal and leaving the ability scores alone.
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PostSubject: Re: Heart of Fury Mode   Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:30 pm

All your #1 will achieve is making combats even slower and more grindy as everybody misses all the damn time. If you want your players to feel like their characters are out of their depth and in imminent danger of chunky salsa death, a better way would be to just increase monster damage output.

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PostSubject: Re: Heart of Fury Mode   Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:52 pm

Chris24601 wrote:

Mechanically though, you'd probably get much better results in line with the feel he wants simply by using monsters 2-3 levels higher than normal and leaving the ability scores alone.

This - everything is relative...

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One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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cavalier973
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PostSubject: Re: Heart of Fury Mode   Thu Jul 17, 2014 9:25 pm

[quote="Chris24601"]
Durriken wrote:

Mechanically though, you'd probably get much better results in line with the feel he wants simply by using monsters 2-3 levels higher than normal and leaving the ability scores alone.

I reiterate that the "feel" that I want is achieved by simply limiting the weight load limits.

For example, a fighter with 18 STR is said to have a normal load of 180 lbs, a heavy load of 360 lbs, and max load of 900 lbs. This meets the concept of Adventurer Tier characters as superheroes from the start of their careers.

My job very occasionally requires that I move boxes weighing 100 lbs or more (lifting them up onto truck beds, etc.); I know I probably wouldn't be able to lift 180 lbs of equipment off the ground, much less lug it around all day on my back. Cutting this number in half really changes the tone of the game, and gives it a grittier feel, at least in my opinion, without messing with the rules for combat/defenses/checks/skill checks. The 18 STR fighter still gets his +4 bonuses, but is now only able to lug around 90 lbs of equipment; it adds an element of resource management to the game, and taking on a hireling or two to carry gear around now makes sense.

Sometimes, though, I just want to play kick-tail superheroes; at such times, weight restrictions are ignored.
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PostSubject: Re: Heart of Fury Mode   Fri Jul 18, 2014 7:35 am

Lifting a 180 lbs and having 180 lbs of gear distributed on you body are 2 different things. Ask any fireman. Most are not what you would consider muscle bound, yet they wear over 100 lbs of gear and move around just fine, and can even carry another 180 lbs person out while wearing all that gear.

But still, the load limits are a little ridiculous. I imagine them being the way they are for simplicity - 10x, 20x and 50x str are easy to calculate. The game is built around a certain amount of wealth per level to purchase magic items to keep the right item bonuses to attack and defense vs at lvl monsters.
Characters need to be able to transport that wealth without too much difficulty or the game suffers. Hence encumbrance accounts for it.

If encumbrance is the problem, just change encumbrance. 8x, 12x, 20x? harder to calculate in your head, but every cellphone has a calculator...
Off course when the Chaladin is encumbered in her basic gear (plate, heavy shield, sword), your players may not be so happy.

As for me, I usually ignore it, and hand out bags of holding, handy haversacks, or bags of shared acquisition in low heroic tier. Then it is assumed with treasure gets ported with ease. And I use inherent bonuses and lower the treasure somewhat. You can't just buy much in the way of magic items in my worlds.

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PostSubject: Re: Heart of Fury Mode   Mon Jul 21, 2014 10:25 am

Cavalier973 wrote:
I reiterate that the "feel" that I want is achieved by simply limiting the weight load limits.

For example, a fighter with 18 STR is said to have a normal load of 180 lbs, a heavy load of 360 lbs, and max load of 900 lbs.  This meets the concept of Adventurer Tier characters as superheroes from the start of their careers.

My job very occasionally requires that I move boxes weighing 100 lbs or more (lifting them up onto truck beds, etc.); I know I probably wouldn't be able to lift 180 lbs of equipment off the ground, much less lug it around all day on my back.  Cutting this number in half really changes the tone of the game, and gives it a grittier feel, at least in my opinion, without messing with the rules for combat/defenses/checks/skill checks.  The 18 STR fighter still gets his +4 bonuses, but is now only able to lug around 90 lbs of equipment; it adds an element of resource management to the game, and taking on a hireling or two to carry gear around now makes sense.

Sometimes, though, I just want to play kick-tail superheroes; at such times, weight restrictions are ignored.
The big issue with cutting weight in half though is that even the most basic of fighter/paladin gear (plate, heavy shield, a longsword and a dagger) weighs in at 70 lbs. Throw in a basic Adventurer's Kit and a trio of javelins for having something effective to use at range and you're up to 109 lb.

So that's a minimum 14 Strength (14x5=70) just to not be encumbered by the minimal gear and if they pick up even a single pound (say a goblet) they're now carrying a heavy load. To actually carry the more expected load would require a 22 Strength (22x5=110) and they could only carry a single pound of additional gear beyond that.

Might I suggest that if you DO use such a system you go with a slightly more gradated system for encumbrance. Keep the heavy load limit of 10xStrength (at which point your speed is reduced to 2), but add a medium load limit of 5xStrength where the character's speed is limited to 4 and adds a -2 check penalty to their physical actions. This allows the beefy fighter to carry his minimal gear with no speed penalty or a regular load with his speed reduced to 4 and a significant check penalty (-6 with plate, heavy shield and medium load) and still allows the non-strength heavy armor builds to function with just a bit of added difficulty (i.e. at a medium load) without rendering them completely nonviable (ex. the Cha-based paladin and Con-based battlemind).
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PostSubject: Re: Heart of Fury Mode   Thu Aug 07, 2014 11:16 am

Quote :
Might I suggest that if you DO use such a system you go with a slightly more gradated system for encumbrance.

That could work. Alternatively, they might be compelled to hire some henchmen, or distribute the gear among the party members.

Or, they could carry a load equal to their STR x 5, plus one or two extra pounds per level. A level 3 Cleric with 14 STR could carry 73 to 76 pounds without being slowed.

The score of every Attribute excepting Strength has little to tie it to reality. What does a 23 Intelligence Score mean? In the game, it means that the character's skills and powers are more effective, but there is nothing substantial to eqate it to real world folk (as in, what is a person with 23 INT able to do? Can he do calculus problems in his head? Or does he have to have an INT of 26 for that skill?). Someone who wants a more simulationist flavor of game doesn't have to worry about what the scores mean "in the real world".

STR, however, has the weight loads, which gives the ability a real-world tie-in (unless one declares that "pounds" in the fantasy world are different than "pounds" in the real world). Very few people can lift 300 lbs, much less carry the weight around all day (even granting that the weight is well-distributed). Now this is not a feature unique to 4E; I noticed that 5E had the same weight loads, and even Pathfinder/3.X allows characters of 18 STR to carry around 300 lbs with some penalties. In fact, looking at the Pathfinder tables, a character with 26 STR considers 306 lbs a "light load". A 4e Character with 26 STR would be slowed by a load of more than 260 lbs. Ha! Pathfinder is less "simulationist" than D&D 4th Edition! But I digress. It is easier to believe that a fighter with 28 STR will have trained himself up to carry around 140 lbs of gear without suffering penalties, because there are people in the real world presumably that strong. Carrying around 280 lbs without breaking a sweat? Eh... It's possible, I suppose, but it seems more of a characteristic of superheros than "badass normal" heroes.
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