On The Heartbreaking Outline

I wrote here a bit about my ideas for the next game I'll be playing. This is sort of an implemented theory post that outlines my rule changes and thoughts.

The group will be one player new to RPG's, and will have at least half the participants be women.

The game will in absence of other changes be based off the OSRIC book with ascending armor.

Character durability will be increased by rolling critical off of a table for avoiding death after hit points are removed.

4d6, drop lowest and switch two. This provides a slightly higher standard. Many of the people I'm playing with are long time gamers and they are interested in ground where their characters are a bit more heroic then the average human.

Instead of the complicated tables for statistics, stats give a +1 bonus at 13, a +2 bonus at 16, and a +3 bonus at 18. Some derived statistics such as System Shock will still be used.

Weapon damage is by class. OSRIC rules will be in effect for which weapons are used. Weapon proficiencies and bonuses are still spent as normal.

We will be using Skills: The Middle Road system. All characters who are not experts roll for a secondary profession and are given the relevant skills. Skill are flexible and there is no set list. They cannot affect certain resolution systems such as surprise or monster reactions. They may have specific benefits on a successful skill in the vein of Hackmaster skills. These are to be worked out between the player and DM.

Non-human races available include Elf, Dwarf, and Gnome. There are level limits. They may multi-class from the basic classes (Fighter/Spell-casters/Expert). They do not get to select abilities or level up bonuses. These are decide by their race. They may not be Alchemists or Psionicist i.e. Fighter/Spell-caster, Fighter/Expert, Spell-caster/Expert, or Fighter/Spell-casters/Expert are the options, all ability selections once classes are chosen are predetermined based on race. Other races may be unlocked through discovery in play.

Once they reach level 5 or greater, humans may abandon a class and Dual-Class once during their lifetime. They lose access to all of the class abilities, excepting hit points until they reach level 6 in the new class.

There are five classes: Fighting-man, Sage, Expert, Alchemist, and Psionicist. These are based off reinforcing the various play-styles. I thought I had written this up, but apparently not.

Fighting men are tough, letting them jump in and lead the action!
Fighting men have a d10 for hit points, gain a +1 to hit every level, Have a +2 to hit starting out. They are restricted to gear as a fighter. They use the fighter saving throw table.They automatically get the ability to strike at another enemy when they fell one. Each level they gain an opportunity to learn an ability (Feats, class features, whatever). At first level they may automatically choose one free ability.

Sages are fragile and have to plan all their spells in the morning!
Sages have a d4 for hit points. They are restricted to gear as a magic-user. They use the magic-user saving throw table. At first level they can pick Thaumaturgy, Ordained, or Aboriginal.
  • Thaumaturgy gives them 3 random first level magic spells, 
  • Ordained gives them the ability to Bless, Heal, and Turn Undead. 
  • Aboriginal gives them an animal familiar. As they increase this they learn to influence and communicate with nature and alter their normal form. They do not prepare spells as traditional casters.
Each level after the first they also get abilities, allowing greater spell-casting. If they have Thaumaturgy they may pick a specialty. If they took Ordained, they may take a sphere. They may increase Aboriginal for additional nature oriented and primal powers. When they select a specialty or sphere, the spell they learn is determined randomly.

Sages are strictly limited in the number of spells they can know - Twice their level plus twice their spell-casting bonus. If they prepare spells (Thaumaturgy/Ordained) they must prepare spells using the Memory Cell system. They do not gain an improvement in their ability to strike targets. They may add their level to spells that require an attack roll. They may freely take any of the above abilities at level up. They may learn spells from scrolls and switch out spells.

Experts are lucky, but are not good at fighting. They must be very cautious!
Experts have a d6 for hit points. Experts start with 5 skills. They may start with 1 expert skill. Every level, experts may automatically learn one new skill. Experts gain one re-roll of any single die per session per level. At first level they may trade out one of their skills for  Back-stab or Poison Use or two skills for both.They are restricted to gear as a thief. They use the thief saving throw table. Every even level they can gain a +1 to hit, or a +1 to their armor class, or an ability. They receive double XP for treasure not shared with the party.

Alchemists are jerks who create toxins, powders, poisons and potions to poison their opponents. They are weak and opportunistic. Lacking natural skills they goad other members of the party into keeping them save by bribing them.
Alchemists are as the alchemist class in the soon to be released alchemy document. They start off with the skill Alchemy at Expert level. They gain no bonus to hit, but may add their level to any attack rolls for the use of alchemical items.

Psionicists are physically weak, with a few powerful mental powers. They have few abilities so must be very creative in the way that they are used.
These are as the Psionics document. They gain no bonuses to hit.

Henchmen will be encouraged, but will not be a major focus of play. Weak Henchmen Force will be used.

Here are the answers to the survey for this campaign. Notice that they are different then the answers for Numenhalla or my other games.
  1. Ability scores generation method? 4d6, drop lowest, switch any 2.
  2. How are death and dying handled? If you take damage that drops you to lower than 0, roll on the table for avoiding death.
  3. What about raising the dead? What about it?
  4. How are replacement PCs handled? Roll them up when you want. One character per player.
  5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else? Group, unless there is a special case
  6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work? When your hit points are gone, you start taking criticals.
  7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet? yes
  8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly? Yes. The target is determined randomly. Exceptions include fighters and experts who take abilities to hit specific targets in combat and alchemists throwing items.
  9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything? . . . you will need to run.
  10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no? Excellent question! There is a sage who can tell you. . .
  11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death? You bet! If you're saving that means you made a mistake and you might be lucky enough not to die.
  12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked? loosely, but by stone.
  13. What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time? Training does take time, between 2 and 4 weeks. You get a new spell when you gain a level, determined randomly. You have to wait for down time. You receive slots for abilities, but do not get these automatically, you must discover people to teach you them in the milieu.
  14. What do I get experience for? Mostly treasure.
  15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination? Description. Finding traps is a saving throw, and works as such.
  16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work? Yes. They are negotiated or used under the Weak Henchmen Force.
  17. How do I identify magic items? Use, or paying 1,000 gold in town.
  18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions? Alchemical Items may be for sale. Not magic potions.
  19. Can I create magic items? When and how? Yes. Sages, Psionicists and Alchemists can. Experts and Fighters may have items become magical through use.
  20. What about splitting the party? It's your funeral.


  1. It'll be interesting to see how the Memory Cell works out for you. I've tried it a few times and really like it. Reaction from various and sundry players is mixed, but the issues generally stem from "forum-style" DnD play ("Check out this build I saw over at EnWorld! It only requires I download 4 scanned book PDFs, and I'm not worth a shit until level 10, but then watch out!") rather than problems with the system itself.

    1. I'm not entirely sure what you are talking about.

      I am speaking about the Memory Cell chart from the blog of Gorgonmilk

  2. Replies
    1. Can you be here Sunday mornings at 9 in northwestern Arkansas?

      If so, yes.

    2. Errrm...9 is a little early for me on a Sunday. Not even mentioning that, factoring for travel time, I'd need to wake up at 8pm on Friday.

      I'll catch the next game you start up, I guess. =P

  3. I do like subsuming the spellcasters under "Sage" - always thought the cleric class needed to be balanced by removing most of its combat capacities. Turning and healing is pretty damn desirable by itself.

  4. I really like how this is put together, the classes, the HP / wounding mechanics, which I must steal!

    Did you play your fantasy heartbreaker? Did it live up to the name? Do you have more rules for it? I found the Expert class on your blog, and there's a ton of posts on alchemy, though no alchemist. Still, I'm sure B/X versions exist in large quantity. I've been more for that one that AD&D retroclones, though OSRIC seems neat enough.

    1. Oh, yeah, I ran it for a long time. I sure do.


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