Borderlands/Houserules

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Some of this is genuine rules variants, and some of this is either material customized to my game world and style, or clarification/extension on printed rules. I'm trying to be clear which is which.

Character Creation

see also Character Creation

Traits, Templates, and Skills

Attributes

  • A comprehensive summary of the effects of Size are included in Size Modifier. This is more a clarification with citations than a house rule, but useful if you aren't SM 0 or know you might be fighting non-SM0 creature(s).

Background traits: Race, nationality, languages

  • New and Adjusted racial templates are being used, either to fit into the campaign world better or to cater to some of the GMs quirks. Due to some of my other house rules, the costs of some templates have changed, as have the details of others. Please review this page if taking a non-human race.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • New prices for Appearance (positive and negative) and an explanation.
  • Blessed (Heroic Feats) - Heroic Feats of DX gives +1d3 DX, not +1d6. Heroic Feats of Move gives +2d6 move (zoooom!). Heroic Feats of HP are technically possible, and gives 3d6*2 HP - I'm not sure this is a good deal.
  • Chi Talent is replaced by 5 separate "oriental elements" talents.
  • Reawakened (Basic Set, page 80) is available as a Power Up. This replaces the ability of Knights to buy combat skills "on the fly" (as mentioned in DF 3). This comes in two "levels":
  • Reawakened (Emergencies Only, -30%; Focused: Your Template Skills, -20%) [5].
This allows "skilling up" in Combat or other crisis points only, and the skill bought or improved must be situationally appropriate (if a Knight grabs a Battle Axe, he learns Axe/Mace). No money or time needs to be spent in training, but enough free character points must be available and are spent as normal.
  • Reawakened (Focused: Your Template Skills, -20%) [8].
With this version, you NEVER need to spend money or time training Focused skills (or techniques or spells), just points. Normal training is needed for non-Focused skills and other abilities.
"Your Template Skills" covers your template wildcard skill, and all Primary and Secondary skills on the template. Template-less characters can buy similar Reawakened advantages, but the scope of the Focus will need to be defined in advance and is subject to GM veto.
It is perfectly valid for characters that start play with Reawaked to keep unspent points "in reserve" for use with Reawakened as needed.
  • A Clarification on Pyromania - this is a 5 point disadvantage and thus equivalent to needing to shower more regularly, not Compulsive Arsonist.
  • A Clarification on Low TL in DF - The rules for Low TL in the Wildman template are too harsh for a 5/level disadvantage, but some guidelines are needed to prevent it from being free points for physical characters.
  • Guidelines for Sense of Duty: Nature for Borderlands characters, to understand what the expectations are.
  • Extended Familiars limitations are available for powers granted by a familiar.
  • Some options for Energy Reserve are available. Any template that offers extra Fatigue Points can buy Energy Reserve.
  • Clarifications on Insubstantial and how some of its modifiers work are found here.
  • Shapeshifting: Alternate Form has a base cost of 25 points, not 15. It takes a single Concentrate action to transform (not 10 Concentrates!), and you do not automatically come with a weakness that forces you back into your native form. If you want a slower transformation, take Takes Extra Time, and if you want something that can force a shape reversion, take a "reverse Uncontrollable Trigger" which turns off your power instead of turning it on. See Powers pp. 106-107.
    This makes it slightly cheaper to take an Alternate Form with a 1 second transformation time, a very popular option. It also gives more points back for other common limitations, like a Power modifier, Trigger, Maximum Duration, Costs FP, etc.
  • Kromm suggested that the pricing scheme for alternate forms was weird, and if he'd do it again post Powers, he'd make the cost of AF the cost of the basic advantage, + 90% of points, and extra forms are just Alternate Abilities of the first "copy".

Skills and Techniques

  • Imbuements are available, as per Power Ups 1: Imbuements, with some footnotes, new options, etc. Follow the link for gory details.
  • I am using Rev. P. Kitty's Backstab rules and adding Backstab (Knife), Backstab (Shortsword), and Backstab (Smallsword) to the list of Thief advantages (4 point advantage gets you the Backstab technique at equal-to-Skill, partial purchases are not available - you're either committed to being a nasty backstabber or not).

Job/Character templates

  • The Alchemist lens for the Artificer template is available, as are the short-duration potion rules and all the equipment from that article.
  • Monks use a different Chi Talent than the one from DF 1: Adventurers

Gear

  • Equipment should use statistics from Low Tech for GURPS 4e over other sources. Please also refer to the Armor and Shields and Weapons sections.
  • I've had to make up Scaling Rules for other equipment, and for SM +2 creatures (i.e. Ogre or Kentauros barbarians). This doesn't overwrite any of the existing rules, it just expands on them a little. I've also added rules for Fat and Skinny characters.

Combat And Other Excitement

Judo Throw: Small vs Tall

Officially there is no restriction on Judo throwing someone you've successfully parried, even if you're a ST 7 SM -1 Gnome, and they're a ST 45 SM 3 angry elephant. It's easy to just veto this case, but less ridiculous examples are harder to eyeball. So here are some modifiers to handle the weird cases:

  • Difference in Size. The defense against the Judo throw attack gets a bonus equal to the difference in size modifier between the defender and the Judoka - if the defender is bigger, this is a positive bonus, if the defender is smaller, this is a penalty.
Eg: SM 3 elephant defending against a SM -1 gnome gets a +4 on its defense. A SM -1 gnome defending against a SM 0 human gets a -1 on his defense. The attacker can reduce this with deceptive attack, as usual - high skill therefore can compensate... at a 2:1 ratio.
The GM may wish to cap this at -4/+4.
  • Difference in ST. The Judoka can throw a defender up to 1.5 x his ST (round down) without penalty (ST 10 man can throw up to ST 15 defenders w/out penalty, ST 7 gnome can throw up to ST 10 defenders w/out penalty). The attacker gets a -1 to his attack for each point of ST over this threshold the defender has. Skill can compensate for a difference in ST easier than it can compensate for a difference in size.
In some situations it may make sense to substitute "massing" HP for ST for both the attacker and the defender. "Massless" HP should never be used for this purpose.
  • Weak limbs. A Judy Throw is compared against the creatures main ST, not its Weak Limb ST, even if that limb is the one the Judoka parried to set up the throw.
  • Nonhumanoid body plans. Horizontal creatures get a +1 to defend against Judo throws. Double Jointed creatures get a +1 to defend, and if the Judoka set up the throw with a parry against an attack with an Extra Flexible limb (like an elephant's trunk) the defender gets a +1 to defend as well.

Worked Example #1: a SM -1 ST 7 gnome trying to throw a ST 45 elephant after parrying its trunk, which is a Weak (1/4 ST) Extra Flexible limb. Note that the gnome can't parry a full body slam or a tusk attack at all.
The gnome is at -35 to his attack roll for the difference in ST; the elephant is at +4 for its size advantage, plus 1 for Horizontal, plus 1 for being thrown by an Extra Flexible trunk, for a total of +6 - added to the DX-based Parry of 9, this gives the Elephant a net Parry against this attack of 15. Unless the Gnome has Judo 40+, the GM vetos this as patently impossible.

Worked Example #2: A SM 0 ST 10 human trying to throw a ST 22 SM 1 cavalry horse (B459).
The Human is at -7 to attack for relative ST - the Human's "threshold" is ST 15, the horses' ST is 7 higher. The horse is at +1 to defend for relative SM, plus a further +1 for being horizontal, for a net dodge of 11. The Judoka might be able to throw the horse - but this is going to be very hard to get a successful attack, and the horse has good odds of just shrugging him off anyways. A legendarily skilled Judoka with skill 30 can eat the -7 and use some more skill to create a Deceptive Attack to eat down the horses defense - most lesser Judoka will have to rely on getting very lucky.

Worked Example #3: A SM -1 ST 20 Super Gnome trying to throw a ST 22 SM 1 cavalry horse.
The Super Gnome is at no penalty for relative ST. The horse is at +2 to defend for relative SM, plus a further +1 for being Horizontal, for a total bonus of +3 - added to the horses Dodge of 9 this gives a net defense of 12. The Super Gnome will have some trouble throwing the horse, but it's clearly a possible feat. My advice to horses is to not provoke angry balls of muscle, even if they're only knee high.

Physical and Mental "injuries"

  • The interaction between Cutting damage and armor DR has been modified.
    Cutting weapons have a harder time penetrating armor than piercing or impaling weapons, but when they fail to penetrate they can still transmit energy through the armor like a bludgeoning weapon.
    If a cutting attack fails to do more than twice the damage resistance of the armor, it fails to penetrate and penetrating damage is treated as crushing.
    This rule applies to all equipment-based armor unless otherwise noted, and DR from magical spells. Natural Damage Resistance with the Tough Skin (or fur) limitation is not covered by this rule, but Flexible, Touch Transmissive, and unmodified DR are.
Example: Connell is wearing DR 4/2* mail with Fortify +1 when an Orc swings his axe at him. Connell has DR 5* vs cutting attacks (4 from the mail's split DR, 1 from Fortify), so the axe needs to do more than 10 points of damage to penetrate.
The Orc hits and does exactly 10 cutting damage. 5 points are absorbed and the remaining 5 points are treated as crushing, causing Connell to lose 5 HP.
If the orc had done 11 damage, 5 points would have been absorbed and the remaining 6 would have been treated as cutting with the +50% modifier to penetrating damage, causing Connell to lose 9 HP.
Note 1: In the case of split DR where one value applies to the attacks original damage type, and the other value applies to crushing (like Connell's magic mail in the above example) continue to use the DR for the original damage type even if it doesn't penetrate. The DR vs Cutting has already been applied, so double-counting would be cheating, and going back to the beginning to apply to crushing DR instead adds an extra step that annoys this GM.
Note 2: Injury from a cutting attack that fails to penetrate is crushing injury for all purposes - wounding modifiers on the throat, Vulnerability to Crushing damage, DR of lower layers, etc.
Example: If Connell was wearing a second identical magic mail shirt underneath the first one and the Orc rolled 10 damage, the 5 penetrating damage would be applied to the undershirt's DR 3* vs Crushing.
  • Fright Checks are being severely simplified to speed gameplay and reduce "time out" type effects on players. NPCs will also benefit from this rule, however! Note that supernatural fear effects can trigger standard style fright checks instead of the modified version (especially fright checks caused by Elder Things!) Both versions still get the usual modifiers if triggered in combat (+5), from Combat Reflexes and Fearlessness, or for Phobia triggers (based on the Self Control level).
  • Being set on fire is dangerous: If your clothes, hair, or skin have been actually set on fire by burning damage, DR from low tech armor does not protect, nor does Tough Skin DR, but other forms of innate DR will.
    Note that any attack that does 10 points of damage (bonfire levels) automatically ignites clothing and leather armor and equipment (Basic Set p433) and has a 16 or less chance of setting even live flesh on fire if you are exposed to it for 10 seconds.
    Even 3 points of damage (a torch) has a 6- chance of setting flesh on fire after 10 seconds, and will set part of your clothes on fire immediately.

Combat and Vision Penalties for Lighting

Ignore the rules on basic p. 394 when dealing with general environmental lighting penalties, though they apply normally to obscured, concealed, or invisible characters.

Vision penalties for lighting are applied directly to all vision related Perception rolls and to all DX based rolls where vision is important. This almost always includes combat, especially defence rolls. As usual, the applied penalty to Block and Parry is half the Vision penalty, and the applied Dodge penalty is one-quarter the Vision penalty. Fractions are rounded down.

Various Defences Issues

  • Shield Damage rules will be used - Block otherwise becomes such a good defense that two-weapon fighters or one-big-weapon fighters look like a fools proposition.
  • Staves, polearms, spears, and two-handed axes/maces use the same penalty per parry as fencing weapons - note that U and double-dagger weapons will still be unavailable to parry with after attacking! These weapons are all wielded in a strong two-handed cross-body stance, which is great for parrying (if you haven't screwed it up by shifting out of the stance to attack with your U or double-dagger weapon).
  • New Option: Armed Interdiction
    Anyone may attempt the Armed Interdiction technique. If attempting an Armed Interdiction would cause a weapon to break, the wielder drops it instead. Cheap weapons then break when dropped.
  • House Rule - Parrying Unarmed Attacks (Basic Set page 376) does half damage, not full damage. For full damage, Wait and perform a Stop Hit instead.
  • Clarification - Run Around Attacks (Basic Set page 391, box) are when a character starts or moves through a front hex, and attacks from a rear hex. Moving from a side hex to a rear hex and attacking does not count as a run-around, and instead is a true attack from behind. Naturally, starting in a rear hex and not going anywhere before attacking also counts as an attack from behind.
  • Clarification - On a similar note, moving from on-the-level to overhead and then attacking in the same turn does not count as an Attack from Above for the purposes of defense penalties unless the victim had no idea it was coming.
  • Clarification - If attacked from a position where you cannot see your attacker due to position rather than invisibility (eg, from behind) but your attacker isn't making any special effort to be hidden, then you may still attempt to defend, as if being attacked by an invisible opponent. The usual Hearing-2 roll is required to try to defend (per Basic 549) at all; if successful the -4 to defences for blindly defending applies.
    However, visibility isn't the only problem when defending against attacks from behind. For "normal" humanoid characters, "behind" is one of the arcs where shield DB bonuses to defence do NOT apply and Block is forbidden - and Parry is at a further -2 penalty for being a very awkward location and angle to try to get your weapon into (total -6 to Parry, -4 to Dodge).
  • Double Jointed characters may ignore the extra -2 to Parry attacks from behind, but still may not attempt to block and must still cope with visibility problems (total -4 to all defenses).
  • Characters with Peripheral vision do not need to make a Hearing roll to defend against attacks from behind, and only suffer a -2 to "blind" defences instead of -4 against back attacks. They still have the position penalties (total -4 to Parry, -2 to Dodge).
For your convenience, here is a table summarizing the modifiers from position to defense and how they "stack" vs Attacks From Behind:
  Normal Flexibility Flexible Double Jointed
Normal Vision Hearing-2 or no defenses at all. Dodge at -4, parry at -6, no block, no DB. Hearing-2 or no defenses at all. Dodge at -4, parry at -5, no block, no DB. Hearing-2 or no defenses at all. Dodge and parry at -4, no block, no DB.
Peripheral Vision Dodge at -2, parry at -4, no block, no DB. Dodge at -2, parry at -3, no block, no DB. Dodge at -2, parry at -2, no block, no DB.
360 Vision Dodge at no penalty, parry at -2, no block, no DB. Dodge at no penalty, parry at -1, no block, no DB. Dodge and parry at no penalty, no block, no DB.

Magic

  • High spell skill cannot reduce final modified Energy cost to cast below 1.
    Maintenance Costs are calculated as normal, based on final cost to cast (including the Minimum), and can be reduced to 0.
    Area and leveled spells calculate their total cost as usual, applying reduction for skill last (as usual). Then if the cost is reduced to 0, bump it back to 1.
    Some weird mana levels, artifacts, and effects may remove the "minimum of 1" rule or offer further discounts, others may make it worse.
  • Sacrifice magic will be available to Holy (and Unholy) spell casters, mostly in consecrated areas. The GM is still debating for other sources. Sentient sacrifice is generally cause for a lightning bolt to the face, but properly conducted animal sacrifice is considered perfectly normal and socially acceptable.
  • Alternate Mana levels will be used.
    • No and Normal Mana remains as written.
    • Low Mana comes in two levels, imposing a -3 to spell skill, and -6. Otherwise treat as "Low Mana" for all purposes (Recover Energy, Dependency, etc.)
    • High Mana comes in two levels, and grants a skill bonus (+3 and +6). Otherwise treat as "High Mana" for all purposes (Recover Energy, Dependency, etc.)
  • Mana levels fluctuate daily based on a sine function and a random table roll, moving between between Low -6 and High +6. Approximately 40% of the time the Mana levels will be "Normal", and there will be equal distributions of Low and High mana.
  • Locations will feature mana aspects, tactical-scale patches of No Mana, Very High Mana, Twisted Mana, and Wild Mana, and possibly other thaumatological hazards yet to be determined.
  • An alternate pricing scheme for Armour Enchantments is in effect (plus a couple of new enchantments are available!).
  • I am using Vitruvian's interpretation of how using Super Luck or spending CP for a critical success interacts with how much energy is available for spell casting when HP burned for energy is considered.

See Also

Official_Rule_Options_In_Effect