Zapp's house rules collection (take 2)

Cubicle 7 // 2018
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CapnZapp
Posts: 205
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:15 am
Location: Norsca

Wed Jun 26, 2019 4:04 am

The old "Zapp's Houserules" thread is so old and obsolete by now I thought it easiest to simply start a new thread.

Change Log:
Bleeding: no longer needed since C7's errata now allows untrained use of Bandages.
Advantage: the previous version proved still too fiddly
Armor and Criticals: all that malarkey proved too fiddly
Conditions: way too much rolling, way too much fiddly details...
Lots of things added...

Advantage
Very much simplified. You either have Advantage or you don't. If you do, you get +20%. No counting levels of advantage. No houserule exceptions on how you gain or lose it.

A couple of Talents are expected to lose some or all their value because of this. Luckily a player is never required to take any of them, so no changes are necessary - just don't take the Talents you're no longer interested in. (That said we are exploring ways to tweak select Talents on a case by case basis. Still early days though)

Armor and Shields
Armor no longer negate criticals, full stop. Shields no longer negate criticals and no longer provide Armor Points.

In summary, a regular shield grants you +10% to your parry (no off-hand penalty) and allows you to block incoming arrows (that you see). No other benefits.

This isn't as drastic as it seems. Read on before you judge ;)

Critical Hits
Criticals only occur when you go into negative Wounds.

We don't like how crits are unconnected to the severity of the incoming blow. We observe how curiously non-lethal the crits are. Basically only results from 75 on up are actually combat enders. Having to keep track of the number of crits you've suffered is a symptom of a too-soft crit table. The way none of it matters since you're likely struck Unconscious by Bleeding just makes the design failure more glaring, even though it kind of makes the problems with the crit tables moot.

So the number of "negative Wounds" you take is important. If you take 7 Damage and have 2 Wounds left, you're brought to -5 Wounds. This means the crit roll is 01-50. You never stay at negative Wounds - if you survive you're back at 0 Wounds, just like you're used to.

It's easier to show you than to tell you:

Code: Select all

-1 01-10
-2 01-20
-3 01-30
-4 01-40
-5 01-50
-6 01-60
-7 01-70
-8 01-80
-9 01-90
-10 01-100
-11 11-100
-12 21-100
-13 31-100
-14 41-100
-15 51-100
-16 61-100
-17 71-100
-18 81-100
-19 91-100
-20 Instant Death & Deathblow 
Do check out the new condition Weary below!

Special Hits
Whenever you roll a double on an active Test (such as an attack, but not on a parry) your foe gets a Special Hit, not a critical hit. This is a table of much-simplified effects with no Conditions and few follow-up die rolling.

The concept of losing additional Wounds is transferred from Crits to Special Hits, since it's obviously only when you have Wounds left it's meaningful to make you lose more Wounds.

Since doubles no longer cause criticals, armor no longer need crit negation! Yay!

(The exact table can be found attached to post #2, below)

Conditions
The actual rules and effects of Conditions are simplified and streamlined. No wonky special exceptions you can never remember. (Combat sheet attached to post #2, below)

In particular, the way Bleeding means an instant combat loss is unacceptable (because as soon as you run out of Wounds you fall Unconscious).

Stunned: Can't attack. -10% to all Tests. Additional -20% to parry. -1 Move.
Weary: -10% to all Tests. Enemy attacks +10%. Damage counts twice for purposes of determining criticals.
Fatigue: -10% to all Tests.
Bleeding: Lose 1 Blood Point. When out of BPs, fall unconscious, and start making instant death tests (10% per Bleeding, small chance of spontaneous healing)
Prone: -10% to all Tests. Additional -20% to dodge. Move 1. Enemy melee attacks +20%.
Blinded: -10% to all Tests. Enemy attacks +10%.
Deafened: -10% to all Tests. Enemy attacks +10%.

All modifiers are cumulative. No nonsense exceptions. You might say it's "boring" that penalties are so similar. I say it's been a goddamn lifesaver!

Weary
This is a new condition that you suffer from whenever you have no Wounds left. Simple right?

Well, it brings penalties, but more importantly, it makes negative Wounds count double, so it means you're pretty much staring Death in the eye once your Wounds have run out. This is how we like it. And not coincidentally, how WFRP has always liked it!

If you take 7 Wounds when you're at zero Wounds (=Weary), that means the crit roll is as if you were brought to -14 Wounds instead of -7. That is, not a roll of 01-70 but a roll of 41-100. Significantly more scary!

Obviously you only become Weary after resolving an attack. The attack that brings you to zero/negative Wounds is not subject to the doubling rule!

Bleeding
Now you have "Blood Points" (equal to your starting Wounds). Only when you've lose all your Blood Points do you fall unconscious and start making those insta-death Tests. This transforms the crit tables to "you're bleeding plus a lot of unimportant clutter since you're Unconscious" to "you're now bleeding and here are some other important consequences".

It also means Bleeding the condition no longer is stupidly lethal. You have a bit more time to save your friends.

Initiative
Add this to the list of possible initiative variants...

Each time combat start, roll for your Initiative: d6 + AB (agility Bonus) + IB (Initiative Bonus). Ties are broken by your IB. Most easily, write this as your result x 10 + your IB. Still tied and you act exactly simultaneously.

Example: Your Agility is 45%, your Initiative is 31% and you roll a 2 on your d6. Your combat initiative is 93.
The 9 is the die roll plus AB plus IB. The 3 is the IB.

Your Agility is 51%, your Initiative is 56% and you roll a 5 on your d6. Your combat initiative is 155.
The 15 is the die roll plus AB plus IB. The 5 is the IB.

The Combat Reflexes Talent is reworked to instead give you an initiative die one sie larger: take it once for a d8, twice for a d10 and three times for a d12. Since you can still roll a '1' even on a d12, you're never assured of acting first. Such is the chaos of combat.

Crude Handweapons
A new weapon category containing simple clubs, short or dented swords, hand axes, ... add any less good handweapon to this category: unwieldy, unbalanced, poorly maintained or simply worthless handweapons.

Crude handweapon
Price: 1/-
Damage: +SB+3

(This allows you to equip riff-raff with handweapons without the party immediately getting rich for defeating them. Just lower the damage listing of any foe by 1 (or just don't bother, maybe riff-raff are slightly stronger than other folks...?) that doesn't appear rich enough to have a "proper" handweapon. This also cuts back on the nonsense where starting characters immediately raid the garden sheds or rob travellers for weapons when the players find out they can't afford to buy any.)

Dexterity in Combat
I'm opening up the possibility of getting by with Dex if you can settle for small, quick, concealable weapons: daggers, throwing knives, darts, cudgels and short swords (the latter two counts as +3 "crude" hand weapons). Add any similar weapons the GM and player agrees should qualify.

That is:
a) you may use Dexterity in place of Weapon Skill for Melee (Basic) skill tests with certain weapons (such as the Knife)
b) you may use Dexterity in place of Ballistic Skill for Ranged (Throwing) skill tests with certain weapons (such as the Throwing Knife)

For any other weapon, you still need WS/BS as normal. For any other Melee or Ranged skill, you still need WS/BS as normal.

(When Agility was split into Ag, I and Dex, the latter Characteristic ended up simply worth less. Careers that depend on it (thieves, tradesmen, engineers...?) effectively have a "Characteristics tax" if they too want to partake in adventures - read combat - while everyone can safely dump Dex. Now you can play a Cat Burglar character that puts her XP into Dex and Agility instead of WS and BS! After all, a high skill is MUCH more important that high damage in this edition, so asking a character to get on by with "only" a dagger is much less of an ask than it would have been in v1/v2)

Falling Damage
Effective falling height is reduced by Agility Bonus.
(Hint: if you want your game to encourage exciting roof-top chases don't make your heroes avoid heights in general.)

Example: you have Agility 39. You fall four yards. You suffer 1d10 + (4-3)x3 Wounds. That is, 1d10+3 Wounds instead of 1d10+12 Wounds.
Last edited by CapnZapp on Wed Jun 26, 2019 9:28 am, edited 7 times in total.
CapnZapp
Posts: 205
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Location: Norsca

Wed Jun 26, 2019 4:09 am

Magic Points
Magic Points = Intelligence Bonus + Toughness Bonus + Will Power Bonus + Will Power Bonus.

Priests do not have Magic Points. Wizards, Hedge Wizards, Chaos Sorcerers, etc do.

When you're about to cast a spell (or channel), you may choose to spend up to your Will Power Bonus number of Magic Points. Each will temporarily (for this casting only) lower the Casting Number of the spell by one (to a minimum of zero).

Each casting of any spell costs a minimum of 1 MP, even spells with a CN of 0, even when you decided not to spend any MPs. This applies as long as you have any MPs left. (There's no special consequence of running out of MPs)

Example: Nicodemus wants to cast Blast. He doesn't have time to channel, so he chooses to spend 4 Magic Points to lower its CN to 0. Success or failure, the next time he wants to cast Blast the CN is back at 4 (unless he spends more Magic Points).
Then he wants to cast Dome (CN 7). His Will Power is 62%, so he can only pay 6 MPs at most. He can't lower the CN to zero, only to 1. This time, there's time for channelling so he only spends a single MP (which he would have lost anyway). The CN is thus 6.
Finally he settles for Dart. The spell is already at CN 0, but he still has to pay 1 MP for each casting, assuming he's not already run out.


Whenever the GM deems you have gotten any rest at all during the night, make a Will Power Test. Success and you gain back all used Magic Points. Failure and you gain back half of your used Magic Points.
Example: Nicodemus has 21 Magic Points when fully rested. Now he's down to just 6. If he makes his test he regains all 15 spent Magic Points. If he fails the test he regains half that, or 8 MPs. In this case he starts the next day with 6+8=14 MPs.
The difficulty is normally Challenging (+0) for a reasonably good night's rest, but circumstances can modify this. Personally I just use three scenarios: autosuccess (when back at the Coaching Inn, no hijinks during the night), rolling per above (during most adventure-time camping) and autofailure (Tyrion in his "sky cell", the Hobbits on Weathertop, you get the idea).

Attachments
Combat Sheet: Main purpose is of course to make it relatively simple to track who has which condition. Enter names of combatants (preferably in initiative order) one per line. Make checkmarks or enter numbers to track having a condition.

Also a cheatsheet of what each condition does, and how you get rid of it. Note: most conditions have been streamlined compared to the rulebook. That's right, if this sheet doesn't tell you about a penalty, you don't get it.

The exception is broken bones and amputations and the like. That stuff is complex but doesn't happen very often, so having to look it up in the rulebook is okay.

Special Hits: The idea to give out criticals during regular combat didn't work for us. Too complicated; made armor mandatory. Now when you roll a double while doing something active, foe gets a Special Hit and not a critical hit. Roll on the table attached. This can't be avoided or negated.

Rolling doubles while defending or resisting is ignored. Critical Hits are still used for when you fall below 0 Wounds.
Attachments
Combat Table 09.jpg
WFRP 4 Special Hits.pdf
(42.39 KiB) Downloaded 59 times
fluminor
Posts: 36
Joined: Fri May 24, 2019 1:30 pm

Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:39 am

Hi Zapp,

Thanks for posting these! I may take inspiration for our game if/when we start it. I like most of it. A few quick comments:

1. The doubling of negative wounds for critic rolls when starting from 0 but not when starting from 1+ is an unnecessary complication. I see what it's trying to accomplish but I'd consider just rolling on a table based on plain negative wounds (hence adjusting the table)
2. I like the special results quite a but. For 96-00 I do not like the W=0 condition, too good, I'd consider replacing it with "pick any of the above results".
3. I'd set deafening at -5 penalty, +5 to attack, half as much as blinded.
4. I think you may have forgotten to mention that advantage is specific to a given enemy, unless you changed your mind on that. For my part, i think it could make sense to keep it unspecific since some ways of gaining advantage are not related to any given opponent or to multiple opponents.

All in all, very nice work.
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Orin J.
Posts: 188
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:39 pm

Wed Jun 26, 2019 3:13 pm

Seems fairly well put together, all in all. I'm not sure what you're getting into with the dex stuff but then i prefer to sneak traps into campaigns more often than some people so dealing with them is an actual issue for groups i run.
CapnZapp
Posts: 205
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:15 am
Location: Norsca

Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:38 pm

fluminor wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:39 am
Hi Zapp,

Thanks for posting these! I may take inspiration for our game if/when we start it. I like most of it. A few quick comments:

1. The doubling of negative wounds for critic rolls when starting from 0 but not when starting from 1+ is an unnecessary complication. I see what it's trying to accomplish but I'd consider just rolling on a table based on plain negative wounds (hence adjusting the table)
2. I like the special results quite a but. For 96-00 I do not like the W=0 condition, too good, I'd consider replacing it with "pick any of the above results".
3. I'd set deafening at -5 penalty, +5 to attack, half as much as blinded.
4. I think you may have forgotten to mention that advantage is specific to a given enemy, unless you changed your mind on that. For my part, i think it could make sense to keep it unspecific since some ways of gaining advantage are not related to any given opponent or to multiple opponents.

All in all, very nice work.
Orin J. wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 3:13 pm
Seems fairly well put together, all in all. I'm not sure what you're getting into with the dex stuff but then i prefer to sneak traps into campaigns more often than some people so dealing with them is an actual issue for groups i run.
Thank you :)

1) Our preference is for "being out of Wounds" to be "very close to end of combat". We found that between mediocre combatants it is too likely that attacks yield only ~10 Damage (which takes you only to -7 Wounds or less), which means the risk of critical just grinding you down instead of outright stopping you is too great. The reason for this is that criticals below results 75 or 80 or so aren't particularly showstopping (once you remove the silly idea that 1 point of Bleeding should shut you down permanently).

To be direct: we dislike the notion that you should expect to suffer two or three criticals and be grinded down until you simply drown in penalties. We much prefer criticals as "survive one if you're lucky, but never take two if you can help it".

So the table as is didn't cut it for us; hence the doubling. Taking 10 Damage after TB/AP while Weary does mean you instantly die. This is a huge upgrade in lethality compared to the 4E RAW, and a much closer approximation of how critical injuries worked in v1 and v2.

Back to the "unnecessary complication" ;) If there was no special provision for "having Wounds left" then having 1 or 3 or even 5 Wounds left would feel useless - you would be pretty much at the same great risk of death or dismemberment then; a point or three makes no difference once your luck runs out. We want the big threshold to be "at zero Wounds, not "at half Wounds".

So always doubling it was no option for us, just as never doubling it was. (Of course, the real solution is to write new critical results tables where the really nasty results occupy at the very least half the table if not more.)

Than you though for your comment and for allowing me to explain in detail!

2) IIRC, our original "top result" was to generate a standard 01-100 critical only. But again, there's too many non-conclusive results, so after a bit of design iterations I added what I realized was the key element of "taking a critical". Which is "you've run out of Wounds" - remember, in our system you don't take criticals while you have Wounds remaining.

You're absolutely right it is powerful. But remember, a skilled Warrior in 4E can easily chop away all of a lesser foe's 12 Wounds in a single swipe. Contrast with a game like D&D, where it would indeed be unacceptably unbalanced for a high-level Fighter to go from 150 hit points to zero with no defense or save.

This 96-00 result really only impacts high-armoured and/or monstrous foes. Still, a 5% risk of getting trounced feels acceptable. (A high-armor foe would still not be out, given the difficulty of repeating what this result means: inflicting very high Damage in a single attack).

Perhaps one tweak would be to add "...to a maximum of 20 Wounds" to account for Dragons & Greater Demons etc...?

3) Ok. I simply went with what the player came up with (my player on his own initiative read through the Conditions list and just had to simplify the myriad of special rules)

4) Not sure what you mean...? Advantage is specific to a character, yes.

The advantage my character has applies to his (combat or Psychology) Tests. The advantage the Goblin has applies to its Tests. I have not changed anything with regards to this - no house rules on when you gain it (not any longer, that is; my previous house-rules attempted to restrict this but none of that applies now) or how you use it.

The "only" change is that you don't gain it multiple times; you only need to track if you have it or not, and the bonus for having it is +20%. And yes, that's not a small change. Actually it's more or less removing it, and replacing it a version of with 1E's Winning and Gaining rule. :)

Orin) Yes, of course - if your group doesn't consider Dex a "dump stat", by all means skip that rule.

But since you asked: the specific reason why I came up with the idea was when I realized lots of careers would suffer tremendous "MAD" or "multi-ability dependency". None of the essential Characteristics of an artisan or peddlar involve any of the essential survival Characteristics you need since you're not really an artisan or peddlar, you're an adventurer.

The cause is the break-up of 2E's Agility. At the very least you need Agility in order to Dodge. In 4E it is far far FAR more vital to have at least one combat skill, or ANYONE can and will kill you. You simply cannot and do not survive the adventuring life unless you can parry or dodge, which is a definite change from 2E, since now we're not talking about being helpless against Gors or Templars - I am saying you *will* die at the hand of a mere guttersnipe, scrawly mutant or any other lowest-level foe you can think of.

In short: you absolutely must spend XP on Parry or Dodge right away. You cannot afford to wait. This I consider an unfair "xp tax" for those careers who don't have either Weapon Skill or Agility in their career scheme.

On the other I observe that what you don't need any longer, is an especially impressive weapon. This gave birth to the idea of using "thieving weapons" with Dexterity. Yes, you will never enjoy the +9 Damage of a two-handed weapon or even the +7 of a regular Handweapon.

But you know what? That matters relatively little, compared to having the ability to already from the start put xp into a Characteristic and Skill to allow you to enter combat at all. :)

Not coincidentally, I am not particularly fond of traps even when I DM D&D. Our WFRP group actively dislikes them, though, and they're not usually a big part of the kind of adventures I favor - the kind you'd find in Warpstone Magazine or Liber Fanatica. In short, we belong to the tradition of WFRP players who consider the game as a reaction against D&D ;)

Again, unlike some other rules on my list, this isn't a "must have" that I consider fixing a broken ruleset. This is entirely offered on an optional basis.
fluminor
Posts: 36
Joined: Fri May 24, 2019 1:30 pm

Fri Jun 28, 2019 6:09 am

CapnZapp wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:38 pm

2) IIRC, our original "top result" was to generate a standard 01-100 critical only. But again, there's too many non-conclusive results, so after a bit of design iterations I added what I realized was the key element of "taking a critical". Which is "you've run out of Wounds" - remember, in our system you don't take criticals while you have Wounds remaining.

You're absolutely right it is powerful. But remember, a skilled Warrior in 4E can easily chop away all of a lesser foe's 12 Wounds in a single swipe. Contrast with a game like D&D, where it would indeed be unacceptably unbalanced for a high-level Fighter to go from 150 hit points to zero with no defense or save.

This 96-00 result really only impacts high-armoured and/or monstrous foes. Still, a 5% risk of getting trounced feels acceptable. (A high-armor foe would still not be out, given the difficulty of repeating what this result means: inflicting very high Damage in a single attack).

Perhaps one tweak would be to add "...to a maximum of 20 Wounds" to account for Dragons & Greater Demons etc...?
Sometimes, when a rule requires an exception, I wonder if there's a better way. :idea: As you point out, setting wounds to 0 is too powerful for some big enemies.

\A result like "pick any of the above" in the special hits table can let the player choose, for example, the skewer result, with a whopping +7 wounds, which will very often result in bringing the enemy to zero wounds anyway, save for those big guys who should not be brought to zero with one blow. So I think "pick the above" can achieve the intended "0-wounds for not-too-big-guys" objective.

It's also an interesting result because the player can choose the effect: depending on the situation, it could be best to get the enemy prone, or making him unable to parry, or have him skip the next action, etc. It's a cool result because it gives players a choice. Just my two cents, the table looks great already, but in my opinion this would make it slightly better. ;)
CapnZapp wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:38 pm
4) Not sure what you mean...? Advantage is specific to a character, yes.

The advantage my character has applies to his (combat or Psychology) Tests. The advantage the Goblin has applies to its Tests. I have not changed anything with regards to this - no house rules on when you gain it (not any longer, that is; my previous house-rules attempted to restrict this but none of that applies now) or how you use it.

The "only" change is that you don't gain it multiple times; you only need to track if you have it or not, and the bonus for having it is +20%. And yes, that's not a small change. Actually it's more or less removing it, and replacing it a version of with 1E's Winning and Gaining rule. :)
I thought at some point you said that if I gain advantage fighting a goblin and then I kill it, I cannot use said advantage to attack the orc next to it. So I thought advantage was target-specific. But that could have been me misunderstanding what you wrote. If so, then all is clear! :D
FasterThanJesus
Posts: 61
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Location: UK

Fri Jun 28, 2019 7:45 am

fluminor wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 6:09 am

Sometimes, when a rule requires an exception, I wonder if there's a better way.
Yes. An extremely useful hueristic. Works in many different walks of life, too. Often a sign that something has been patched numerous times.
fluminor
Posts: 36
Joined: Fri May 24, 2019 1:30 pm

Fri Jun 28, 2019 7:49 am

On a second thought, I am wondering if bonus wounds in the special table may be too high. If the objective of special hits (i.e., rolling double, below WS, when attacking) is to add flavor, these results should mostly be about dropping a weapon, losing initiative, skipping an action, etc, but not about delivering high wounds. In a game where the average starting human has 12 wounds, having results that add 4, 5, and even 7 wounds seems to move beyond flavor, especially since these numbers add on top of normal damage and thus ignore AP and T.

The game (RAW) has already too wide a damage swing for my taste. With special rolls adding up to +7 to damage, we are looking at up to 20-AP wounds inflicted in a single blow to a matching opponent with a 1-hand weapon (+4 for weapon, up to +9 from opposed test, +7 from special result, S and T are assumed to cancel out). I am not sure this is a good thing.
CapnZapp
Posts: 205
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Location: Norsca

Sat Jun 29, 2019 2:48 pm

The bonus wounds in the special table are much the same (if not identical) to what the core rules (and the bonus wounds for criticals) give you.

Actually we didn't have them at first, but then a player of mine observed two-handed weapons have a greater chance of scoring a crit/special (on 10, 20... as well as 11, 22...), and we all want to award 2H weapons every bonus they can get.
Last edited by CapnZapp on Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
Glorthindel
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Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2019 7:07 am

Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:36 am

Also, the bonus wounds are kind of the replacement of 2nd Ed's Ulrics Fury, which was invaluable at times for breaking through a particularly tough opponent (and a mechanic that at least my players absolutely loved, some of them still call crits in other systems 'Ulrics').

I sometimes wonder how much weirdness in this edition stems from removing the damage roll.
FasterThanJesus
Posts: 61
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2019 4:30 pm
Location: UK

Tue Jul 02, 2019 4:04 am

I'm still yet to play WFRP v4 (but planning on running TEW when it's out) and having read the rules, and reviewing some of the excellent critiques on here, I'm wondering if a utility to simulate combats producing some data and pretty graphs would be useful. Adding the option of turning bits on and off and possibly modifying them to see how the results change.
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