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Simplified Rules Edit

Features of the new system

The revised Grim-n-Gritty system has five major features:

  • Characters use a Life Bar, instead of Hit Points to track damage.
  • Characters have a Soak attribute that modifies all damage inflicted upon them.
  • Characters oppose attack rolls using their Defense attribute.
  • Characters increase the damage of an attack by the amount they beat their targets’ defense rolls.
  • Critical hits do not increase damage, but apply special effects.
Design Expectations

These are the goals of this combat system.

  1. Characters have a greater potential for dying in combat.
  2. At low levels, against human-sized opponents, fights are not always lethal, though still unpredictable.
  3. At high levels or against monsters, fights are consistently lethal.
  4. Opponents of equal ability and equipment have a good chance of killing one another with a single blow.
  5. Area-effect attacks or high damage dice attacks should kill characters that are not under cover.
  6. Big creatures are much more powerful than little creatures.
  7. Armor greatly increases survivability.
  8. Cover helps more than armor.
  9. Sneaking and ambush help most of all.
  10. Overall, combat becomes more unpredictable.
  11. Overall, the system rewards clever planning.

The Life Bar Edit

The center of the revised Grim-n-Gritty rules is the Life Bar.

The Life Bar
LETHAL
DAMAGE
Light
Wounded
○ ○ ○ ○ ○
Moderately
Wounded
○ ○ ○ ○ ○
Severely
Wounded
○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Disabled
○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Dying
○ ○ ○ ○ ○
NON-LETHAL
DAMAGE
Not
Affected
○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Jolted
○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Jarred
○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Staggered
○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Unconscious

Every character uses the same Life Bar. For each point of lethal or non-lethal damage a character suffers in combat, you fill one pip of the Life Bar, starting from the right and going to the left.

For example, if you suffered seven points of lethal damage, your Life Bar would look like this:

The Life Bar
LETHAL
DAMAGE
Light
Wounded
● ● ● ● ●
Moderately
Wounded
● ● ○ ○ ○
Severely
Wounded
○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Disabled
○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Dying
○ ○ ○ ○ ○
NON-LETHAL
DAMAGE
Not
Affected
○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Jolted
○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Jarred
○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Staggered
○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Unconscious

As your Life Bar’s pips fill, you acquire Wound Conditions. When the first pip in a Wound Column is filled, you gain that condition. For example, the character with the Life Bar in Table 2 suffers the Moderately Wounded condition.

Wound Condition

The following is a description of the various Wound Conditions.

The effects of lethal and non-lethal damage are cumulative.

Lethal
Lightly Wounded: You have suffered some lethal damage, but are not impaired by it.
Moderately Wounded: You suffer a -1 penalty on all attack rolls, defense, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws.
Severely Wounded: You suffer a -2 penalty on all attack rolls, defense, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws.
Disabled: You suffer a -3 penalty on all attack rolls, defense, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws. You can only take a single move or standard action each turn (but not both, nor can you take full-round actions). You can take move actions without further injuring yourself, but if you perform any standard action (or any other strenuous action) you take 1 point of damage after the completing the act.
Dying: You suffer a -5 penalty on all attack rolls, defense, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws. You are unconscious. You can take no actions. You lose 1 lethal pip every round. This continues until you die or become stable.
Dead: Once you run out of pips in the Dying column and suffer any additional lethal damage, you are dead.
Non-Lethal
Not Affected: You are not impaired by non-lethal damage.
Jolted: You suffer a -1 penalty on all attack rolls, defense, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws.
Jarred: You suffer a -2 penalty on all attack rolls, defense, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws.
Staggered: You suffer a -3 penalty on all attack rolls, defense, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws. You can only take a single move or standard action each turn (but not both, nor can you take full-round actions).
Unconscious: Once you run out of pips in the Staggered column and suffer any additional non-lethal damage, you are unconscious.

Soak Edit

Soak is another major feature of the revised Grim-n-Gritty system.

Soak is a character’s ability to “soak up” damage from an attack. The higher a character’s Soak, the less damage he suffers from an attack.

A character’s Soak score is determined with the following formula:

Constitution modifier + Armor bonus + Natural Armor bonus + Size modifier

Constitution modifiers, armor bonuses, and natural armor bonuses are familiar to users of the d20 system and require no explanation. Use the table below to determine a character’s Soak modifier for size.

Size Modifiers to Soak
Size Soak
Fine -16
Diminutive -12
Tiny -8
Small -4
Medium +0
Large +4
Huge +8
Gargantuan +12
Colossal +16

For example, a Large monster with 18 Constitution and +4 natural armor, would have Soak 12. A human with 12 Constitution, wearing full plate mail (+8 armor bonus), would have Soak 9.

Toughness: The Toughness feat adds +1 Soak, rather than +3 hit points. In this system, you can acquire Toughness no more than three times.

Generic Damage Reduction: Characters with generic damage reduction (i.e., damage reduction that looks like #/- and cannot be overcome by special weapons) convert that damage reduction into Soak on a one-for-one basis. For example, a 13th level barbarian with Damage Reduction 3/- in the standard rules gains +3 Soak in the revised Grim-n-Gritty rules.

Defense Edit

As in the original Grim-n-Gritty rules, Defense replaces Armor Class as the mechanic by which a character avoids being hit in combat. Defense represents a character’s ability to roll with blows and dodge attacks.

Figuring Defense

Figure a character’s Defense bonus using the following formula:

Base Defense Bonus + Dexterity Modifier + Size Modifier + Shield Modifier + Other Modifiers

Your base defense bonus equals your base attack bonus or your base Reflex saving throw. (Note: Wearing armor may reduce your maximum Dexterity modifier.) Use the default size table to determine size modifiers to Defense. Use of a shield adds to your Defense, but may limit your maximum Dexterity bonus. Other bonuses to defense include deflection bonuses, dodge bonuses, and cover.

(Basics: Any modifier in the standard combat system that affects AC, other than armor or natural armor bonuses, affects Defense in the revised Grim-n-Gritty system.)

Note: Enhancement bonuses to armor increase the armor’s Soak value, not your Defense.

Resolving Attacks Edit

These are the rules for resolving attacks in the revised Grim-n-Gritty system.

The Attack Roll

An attack roll represents your attempt to strike your opponent on your turn in a round. When you make an attack roll, you roll a d20 and add your attack bonus. (Other modifiers may apply to this roll.) Your opponent rolls a d20 and adds his defense bonus. (Other modifiers may apply to your opponent’s roll.) If your result equals or exceeds your target’s defense roll, you hit and deal damage.

Automatic Misses and Hits: A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on an attack roll is always a miss. A natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20) is always a hit.

Critical Hits: In the revised Grim-n-Gritty system, critical hits do not occur when you roll a certain number on the d20. Instead, they happen when you roll a certain amount of points higher than your target (usually 10 points). See the section on Critical Hits, below, for a more detailed description.

Immobile and Helpless Targets: Immobilized or helpless targets automatically roll a 1 on the defense roll.

Touch Attacks: Touch attacks gain a +4 attack bonus. (Since the revised Grim-n-Gritty rules already ignore armor and natural armor for purposes of determining a hit, this was a necessary modification.)


The Damage Roll

When your attack succeeds, you deal damage.

You roll the damage dice of the attack. Apply modifiers for enhancement bonuses, Strength, and the like. For every point you beat your opponent’s defense roll, add +1 to the damage inflicted. Apply a Size modifier (per table below) to damage inflicted by melee weapons, unarmed strikes, and the natural physical attack forms of creatures.

Damage Modifiers for Size
Size Soak
Fine -16
Diminutive -12
Tiny -8
Small -4
Medium +0
Large +4
Huge +8
Gargantuan +12
Colossal +16

Apply your target’s damage reduction or energy resistance (if applicable) to the attack’s damage.

Finally, subtract your target’s Soak from the damage.

If the result is positive, your target fills in one pip on the Life Bar for every point of damage inflicted. Otherwise, you cause no damage to your target. For example, if your attack inflicts 8 points of damage, your target fills in 8 pips on the Life Bar.

Critical Hits

If your attack roll beats your opponent’s roll by a certain amount, usually 10 or more points, you may inflict a critical hit. Critical hits let you inflict special conditions on your target (such as stunned or dazed), bypass bonuses to Soak, or disable body parts.

Determining Critical Threat Range

In the revised Grim-n-Gritty system, your critical threat range is the amount your attack roll has to exceed your opponent’s defense roll. If you reach this amount, you threaten a critical hit and roll to confirm it with a second attack v. defense roll. Use the following table to determine a weapon’s Grim-n-Gritty threat range.

Critical Threat Ranges
Original Threat Range Grim-n-Gritty Threat Range
20 10 or more
19-20 8 or more
18-20 6 or more
17-20 4 or more
16-20 2 or more
15-20 0 or more (any hit)

For example, you wield a great sword. In the original rules, you would threaten a critical hit if you rolled a natural 19 or 20. In the Grim-n-Gritty system, you would threaten a critical hit if you rolled 8 or more points higher than your opponent’s defense result.

Critical Hit Effects

Once you threaten a critical hit, you select an effect for the hit. Then, you roll attack v. defense to confirm it. (Some types of critical hits are more difficult to confirm than others and apply a penalty to the confirmation roll.) If you win the confirmation roll, your opponent performs a saving throw v. DC 10 + ½ your base attack bonus + your Strength modifier (if a melee attack) or your Dexterity modifier (if a ranged attack) + any enhancement bonuses for your weapon + any critical hit effect bonuses for your weapon. If your opponent fails the save, he suffers the effect of the critical hit.

The critical hit effect bonus depends on the original system’s critical multiplier for a weapon. If a weapon has a x2 multiplier, it has a +0 critical hit effect bonus. A weapon with a x3 multiplier gains a +5 critical hit effect bonus. A weapon with x4, +10.

The effects of critical hits are as follows:

  • Blind Target: (-4 confirmation penalty.) Your target is blinded for 1d4+1 rounds if it fails a Fortitude save against your critical hit.
  • Bypass Heavy Armor: (-8 confirmation penalty.) If your target wears heavy armor, you ignore its armor bonus to Soak when determining the damage for your attack. Your target gets a Reflex save to avoid this effect.
  • Bypass Light Armor: If your target wears light armor, you ignore its armor bonus to Soak when determining the damage for your attack. Your target gets a Reflex save to avoid this effect.
  • Bypass Medium Armor: (-4 confirmation penalty.) If your target wears medium armor, you ignore its armor bonus to Soak when determining the damage for your attack. Your target gets a Reflex save to avoid this effect.
  • Bypass Natural Armor: (-8 confirmation penalty.) You strike a vulnerable point and ignore the target’s natural armor bonus to Soak when determining the damage for your attack. Your target gets a Reflex save to avoid this effect.
  • Bypass Size Modifier: (-4 confirmation penalty.) You strike a vulnerable point and ignore the target’s size modifier to Soak when determining the damage for your attack. Your target gets a Reflex save to avoid this effect.
  • Daze Target: Your target is dazed for one round if it fails a Fortitude save against your critical hit.
  • Deafen Target: (-4 confirmation penalty.) Your target is deafened for 1d4+1 rounds if it fails a Fortitude save against your critical hit.
  • Disable Arm: (-4 confirmation penalty.) If your target fails a Fortitude save, its arm is disabled. This causes a –2 penalty to attack rolls, Strength checks, and all skill checks based on arm use, such as Climb, Craft, Disable Device, Escape Artist, Forgery, Alchemy, Heal, Open Lock, Pick Pocket, Swim, and Use Rope checks. If all arms are disabled, the victim cannot manipulate items.
  • Disable Leg: (-4 confirmation penalty.) If your target fails a Fortitude save, its leg is disabled. This causes a –2 penalty to defense rolls, Reflex saves, Dexterity checks, and all skill checks based on leg use, such as Climb, Swim, Jump, Ride, Tumble, Balance, and Move Silently checks. The victim cannot run or charge. If all legs are disabled, the victim can only move by crawling and loses any Dexterity bonus to Defense.
  • Disable Head: (-8 confirmation penalty.) If your target fails a Fortitude save, it is stunned for one round, and its head is disabled. This causes a –2 penalty to all attack rolls, defense rolls, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws.
  • Stun Target: (-4 confirmation penalty.) Your target is stunned for one round if it fails a Fortitude save against your critical hit.

To cause any effect other than a “bypass,” your attack must inflict at least one point of damage to your target, after all damage reduction, energy resistance, Soak, and other forms of protection are applied.

A critical hit may cause only one effect.

Healing and Recovery Edit

These rules describe how a character heals in the revised Grim-n-Gritty system.

Natural Healing

A character recovers one lost lethal life pip per day of rest if Lightly Wounded or Moderately Wounded. Otherwise, a character recovers one lost lethal life pip per week. Successful long-term care from a trained healer doubles the rate of recovery.

A character recovers one lost non-lethal life pip per minute of rest, even if unconscious.

Supernatural Healing

Healing spells have the following effects on a character in the revised Grim-n-Gritty system:

  • Cure Minor Wounds: Recover one lost life pip (both lethal and non-lethal).
  • Cure Light Wounds: Recover two lost life pips.
  • Cure Moderate Wounds: Recover 1d4+1 lost life pips.
  • Cure Serious Wounds: Recover 2d4+1 lost life pips.
  • Cure Critical Wounds: Recover 3d4+1 lost life pips.
Dying and Stabilization

On the next turn after a character reaches the Dying column on the Life Bar and on all subsequent turns, roll d% to see whether the dying character becomes stable. He has a 10% chance of becoming stable. If he does not, he suffers 1 point of damage. (A character that is unconscious or dying cannot use any special action that changes the initiative count on which his action occurs.)

Once a character fills in all the pips in the Dying column and suffers at least one more point of damage, he dies.

You can keep a dying character from losing any more pips and make him stable with a DC 15 Heal check.

If any sort of healing cures the dying character of even 1 point of damage, he stops losing hit points and becomes stable.

A stable character who has been tended by a healer or who has been magically healed eventually regains consciousness and recovers hit points naturally. If the character has no one to tend him, however, his life is still in danger, and he may yet slip away.

Recovering with Help: One hour after a tended, dying character becomes stable, roll d%. He has a 10% chance of becoming conscious, at which point he is disabled. (He automatically recovers all lost life pips in the Dying column.) If he remains unconscious, he has the same chance to revive and become disabled every hour. Even if unconscious, he recovers hit points naturally.

Recovering without Help: A character who becomes stable on his own (by making the 10% roll while dying) and who has no one to tend to him still loses life, just at a slower rate. He has a 10% chance each hour of becoming conscious and disabled. Each time he misses his hourly roll to become conscious, he suffers 1 point of damage.

Disabled Body Parts

One week is necessary to recover from a disabled body part. Successful long-term care from a trained healer causes recovery in 1d4+1 days.

Variant Rules Edit

Here are some additional rules you might want to implement when you use the system.

Dexterity as Prime Attack Statistic

This variant rule makes it more difficult for big and slow creatures to hit a character, though they still inflict massive damage.

Strength no longer affects a character’s attack rolls. It only increases a character’s damage.

Dexterity modifies a character’s attack bonuses for both ranged and melee attacks.

In this variant, you should change the Weapon Finesse feat. Let it permit you to substitute your Dexterity modifier for Strength when you roll damage with light weapons.

You should also add the following feat:

Brute Force [General] You can use your massive strength to great effect against puny enemies.

Prerequisites: Base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: With a two-handed weapon, you may use your Strength modifier instead of your Dexterity modifier on attack rolls.
Special: A fighter may select Brute Force as one of his fighter bonus feats.
Maximum Damage Dice

Because characters have so few life pips, you can place a maximum cap to the base damage dice rolled for an attack: 4d.

If your attack uses more than four dice, you convert the additional dice into a damage modifier, per the table below.

Damage Dice Modifiers
Die Size Damage Bonus per Die over 4d
d4 or less +1 per die
d6 +2 per die
d8 +3 per die
d10 +4 per die
d12 +5 per die
d20 +6 per die

For example, in the standard rules, the breath of a red dragon at great wyrm age inflicts 24d10 damage. In the revised Grim-n- Gritty system, it causes 4d10+80 damage. (Best to seek cover!) A fireball that inflicts 8d6 in the standard rules causes 4d6+8 in the revised Grim-n-Gritty.

Flat Damage for Sneak Attacks

In this variant, convert each d6 of sneak attack damage into a flat +2 damage bonus.

For example, a rogue with a +8d6 sneak attack inflicts +16 damage with a sneak attack in this system.



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