Castles & Crusades: My First Crunchy Bits

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May 132011

There’s a really odd thing I had realized. The last time I ran a Dungeons & Dragons game or any of its kindred was Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Sure, I’ve played each edition since then but I haven’t ran it. I’ve been running all sorts of other games but not D&D. The good thing about this is that it’s going to give me a chance to try somethings that I’ve wanted to do for a long time.
I’ve had this crazy idea to generate ability scores for a long time and I think this is great system to test it with. I have no idea if anybody else has throw out anything like this but here it goes. It sort of combines the old school, take whatever you roll approach and the more modern player choice methods. I call the 6+d6+d6 method.
Step One: Each ability score is assigned a value of 6. The player rolls 6d6 and assigns each die’s value to the ability of his choosing.
Step Two: Choose Race and Class. Make any adjustments to ability scores.
Step Three: Roll 1d6 for each ability in order and add that to get you final ability score.
That’s it. A combination of choice and chance. Heck, you could have a fighter who is smarter than he is tough but still probably viable and fun to play.
The other idea I have is that content problem that 1st level characters are really fragile. I’m planning on topping out the campaign at 10th level so that means characters are going to progress rather slowly. So why not give them a little bit of a break. Hit Points for first level characters would be maximum roll on their Hit Die x 1.5 plus their Constitution Modifier. At best, this would give a character like a barbarian an extra 6 HP at first level. And remember there aren’t any feats so nobody even has the option to take Toughness. I think it will keep the danger level there but still give the PC’s a decent chance to survive a fight.
And lastly, the infamous 15 minute adventuring day. I hate it and pretty sure that everybody else does too. In Pathfinder, there’s the Channel Positive Energy trick. Plus healing spells are a little more potent in Pathfinder than they are in C&C, for example a Cure Light Spell just heals 1d8. That’s it. Plus if you look at the rules for C&C, healing can take a long time so that 15 minute adventuring day could turn into a 15 minute adventuring month. So I decided to throw in a Second Wind mechanic. After a combat scene, conscious characters get to take a Second Wind roll. So if you’re out, tough luck. If a character is at negative HP then tough luck too. Those are considered Wounds (That’ll make sense in a moment.) This is just recovering from shock, bandaging up minor wounds and stuff like that. Each character has a Second Wind Die, this basically on die step down from their Hit Die. (Remember I adjusted HD to Pathfinder). So a fighter’s SWD would be a d8. Roll a SWD per level. You get back that many HP for a Second Wind. Any left damage is consider to “Wounds” and needs to heal naturally or magically. It’s only a minor bit of extra book keeping for the players but it keeps them in the action longer and the characters may actually refer to the cleric as something besides Heal-Bot.
I know these things aren’t RAW but hell that’s fun of it. Doing those little things that a game special at your table.
So that’s it folks. My Week of Castles and Crusades. But that isn’t going to be it. I got plenty of more ideas and thoughts for Castles and Crusades and those will be showing up in the future.

May 122011

For the campaign, over all I want to do what I’m calling an “ensemble collaborative sandbox campaign”. Yeah, I know that sounds kind of crazy but hear me out.
“Ensemble”: Every player is going to have two characters. The main reason is character death. That’s going to happen and I hate when a player gets stuck sitting there half the session rolling up a new character. This way they can have one waiting in the wings. Players can switch out characters at logical times based on mood or whatever. Since I’m planning on using FATE Aspects, the tweak on Fate Points I’m throwing in there is that Fate Points are earned by the player. So how ever many Fate Points they have get transferred from character to character. The characters should stay about within a level of each other and the party. And I’m planning on a “This is what happened to you while you were off screen chart”. The entire cast of characters should have some sort connections so it won’t be like some random guy just shows up and everything is hunk dory.
“Collaborative”: Once again, I’m stealing a page from FATE. I’ve been in a little email exchange with Mike from Wrath of Zombies about how much work a GM should put into a background. Let’s face it a lot times players just ignore something or latch on to something that the GM was minor or insignificant. My cunning plan to get more player investment in the setting is to have them help make it. For pre-campaign planning, I plan having them throw out suggestions for major things like gods, races and major lore about the “world” Additionally, I’m going to try a little trick. Each player will get one “World Point”. This point refreshes when their characters level. Basically, they would spend the point and make some sort of world declaration like “Elves hate owlbears and get a bonus to track them.” Then, they’re stuck coming up with some bit of lore for the world as to why that is. And consensus and GM approval, it is so and becomes part of the lore of the world. Of course, there’s a good chance that some of their lore might come back and bite them in the ass. But that’s the idea.
“Sandbox”: As I mentioned before I picked up the Umbrage Saga and Haunted Highlands for C&C. Both of these are a series of sandbox style adventures. So with a little creativity, editing and imagination, I can take both of these and smush them together into one coherent sandbox campaign. Being a devious GM, I can gently mold the collaborative lore from the players on top of that as well.
House rules.
That’s it folks. That’s my fun pitch for a campaign. Stay tuned tomorrow for some crunch bits.

May 102011

One of my plans is bring in some of the things that my group has liked and then mixing it into Castles and Crusades.
Like I’ve mentioned before our group is really into Pathfinder but I’m the one who’s looking for the easier rules “efficient” games that are fun. Since C&C is close to the 3.x iteration of the D&D rules, it’s pretty damned easy to import and convert stuff.
One of the first things I’ll hit is Traits from Pathfinder. Since there are no Feats in C&C, the Traits seem to be a quick and easy to add some extra individualization to characters while giving them a little boost and still not be overpowering. The best thing is it’s really not conversion just use them.
With our Kingmaker game, we’ve started using Aspects from FATE. This has added a really cool new dimension to roleplaying and gives a decent in game incentive to make less than optimal decisions. But for this I’m considering using just three Aspects. Any more and I think players tend to loose track and end up focusing on about two or three Aspects any way.
The glorious Hit Dice. Castles and Crusades uses the traditional Hit Dice (with a couple of exceptions like Monks getting a d12). I really don’t think it will hurt the game by adjusting some HD up a die step for spell casters and the rogue types.
There are a couple of things that I’m still on the fence about and really don’t know which way to take it. The first thing is spell casters. In Pathfinder, you can cast 0 level spells all day long. Folks seemed to like that and we’ve made good use of it. C&C keeps to the more traditional version of casters have X number of 0 level spells. Initially, this was a no brainer and then I looked more closely. Some spells have been re-aligned to slightly different levels like Endure Elements is now a 0 level spell. My first plan is to add a class ability for the casters. Some like this:
Spell Mastery: At 2nd level, the character chooses a single 0 level. He can cast the spell an unlimited number of times per day. Once he makes the choice it cannot be changed. The spell still takes up a “prepared spell” slot. The character selects another 0 level spell at 5th level and 8th level. (Yes, I’m only planning on taking the game to 10th level but more on that later.)
The other thing I still have bouncing around my head is multi-classing. Castles and Crusades uses pretty much the old school way of doing it and I’m torn between that and house ruling something similar to the 3.x versions. There’s a few other tweaks and stuff bouncing around in my head but I’ll hit those later.

May 092011

I don’t normally do things like this but what the heck. I’m going to dedicate this week to a bunch of posts about Castles & Crusades.
Why would I do something crazy like this? Well, the game has been out quite awhile and I finally got around to checking it out in detail. So I feel I have a bunch of catching up to do. Plus, I feel really inspired by the game. That hasn’t happened in a long time.
I admit there were something things that just bugged the hell out of me in the old games and I’m not above taking a good idea from a game then beating into submission for another. Our group is really used to Pathfinder so it will take some tweaking (and I’m all for tweaking) to put the rules in a happy place between the core C&C rules and Pathfinder.
One of the things that has really enamored me to this game, is simplicity. It’s got enough rules to get the job done but not too many that it over complicates things and makes each gaming session an exercise in cross referencing and research. Just roll some dice and kill the monsters. Move on. Talk to some NPC’s. Do some roleplaying. Roll some dice. Crack a few jokes. Have fun.
There are couple of things that have gotten me really inspired about this game. I thought I’d never say this but I know of miss Save or Die. It’s a crazy notion but having the reaper standing over your shoulder adds a bit more excitement to the game. The other thing is more than just three saves and this leads to virtually no dump stat. Six saving throws, six attributes. You could have a dump stat but chances are it would kill you.
I know that it’ll be a few months before the dice actually hit the table on this but I like working on things at leisurely pace. It gives me time to think and digest. Plus it gives me chance to throw out some ideas to the throngs on the internet and see what happens.