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Grimoire of the Balanced Wheel (3.5e Sourcebook)/All About Combat (or Round One... Fight!)

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All About Combat (or Round One... Fight!) Edit

Death and Dying Edit

  • At 0 hp or less, you fall unconscious and are dying.
  • If you are dying at the end of your turn, roll 1d20.
    • Lower than 10: You get worse. If you get this result three times per encounter before you are healed or stabilized (as per the Heal skill), you die.
    • 10-19: No change.
    • 20: You get better! You wake up with hit points equal to one-quarter your maximum hit points total.
  • Characters die when their negative hit point total reaches -10 or one-third of their full normal hit points, whichever is a larger value.
  • A dying character who’s been stabilized (via the Heal skill) doesn’t roll a d20 at the end of his turn unless he takes more damage.
  • A character who is healed while under 0 HP instead starts at 0 HP and then applies the healing. The only exception to this is if he is active (such as under the effect of the Diehard feat), in which case he is healed from his current total.

Design Notes Edit

The way that the death and dying rules work in the base system are uninspired and boring. Characters have an incredibly small window to go unconscious in, and if they are knocked below that they're automatically dead. Furthermore, characters who fortunately fall into that window have rounds of boringness. There is an incredibly tiny chance of actually not bleeding to death, and one knows just how many rounds one has to go before dying. The combination of these two make dying both boring and make a character feel helpless in stopping their character from dying. With these new dying rules, even dying can be filled with tension and excitement as characters fall and rise over the course of combats.

These rules are a modification of the rules found at the following location:

Wounds Edit

Design Notes Edit

Sometimes, voluntarily going unconscious from damage rather than staying up can feel like a metagame decision rather than an in-character one. This variant allows for a small penalty, giving characters an incentive to stay up rather than go down and get up the next round like a yo-yo.

Movement and AoOs Edit

Design Notes Edit

Under the Grimoire system, DMs can have a lot of fun with enemies that push, pull and slide each other and enemies around, generally messing with positions on the battle map. However these can be too powerful if each time they allow an AoO, and thus do not provoke them.

Iterative Attacks Edit

  • Iterative attacks use this variant.

Design Notes Edit

The way iterative attacks work under the base system is a complete travesty; it can be hard keeping track of attacks, their bonuses, and so on. Furthermore, attacks at -10 and -15 are rarely (if ever) going to actually hit. This variant streamlines both iterative attacks and two-weapon fighting rules considerably, making them cleaner and more easily understood.

Save-or-Dies Edit

  • On a failed effect that usually causes automatic death, the creature instead takes 10 damage per HD of the creature who used the effect, or per caster level if the effect was a spell.

Design Notes Edit

One of the problems that have plagued boss fights are save-or-die effects; these can cut a battle short, making what was supposed to be a fight of epic proportions a mere road-bump on the character's journey. By turning these effects into damage, we keep with the "death by damage" paradigm of the Grimoire system and allow such effects to remain effective but not overwhelming.

Damaging Ability Damage/Drain and Negative Levels Edit

  • Ability damage or drain instead deals damage equal to the target's level for each point of damage dealt, and grants -2 to all checks (skill checks, ability checks, attack rolls, etc) and DCs dependent on the targeted ability score for a number of rounds equal to the amount of ability damage/drain dealt.
  • Negative levels instead deal damage equal to twice the target's level for each negative level dealt, and grant -2 to all checks (skill checks, ability checks, attack rolls, etc) and DCs for a number of rounds equal to the number of negative levels dealt.

Design Notes Edit

Ability damage and negative levels can be a real pain for a DM; on one hand, they require the DM to sometimes virtually rewrite a monster entirely from scratch. On the other hand, they can easily defeat a monster without much effort if they target an ability that is naturally low for that specific monster. Instead, this rule brings us back to the "death by damage" paradigm of this system, and allows such effects to be a meaningful debuff on monsters for a few rounds.

Death From Massive Damage Edit

  • Remove this rule; taking 50 or more damage from a single attack does not cause a save vs. death.

Design Notes Edit

At higher levels, characters are throwing around damage that easily tops 50 with every attack. Reducing combats to rocket-tag of "who fails their save first" is far from what this system tries to do, and thus this rule is removed.

Immunity to Sneak Attack Edit

  • Sneak attack (and other sources of Precision-based damage such as Sudden Strike and Skirmish) deals 1/2 damage to creatures immune to critical hits.

Design Notes Edit

As it is, rogues and similar combatants that rely on Precision-based damage can be completely shut down and made useless against specific enemies. This rule rectifies that partially, allowing them not to always act at full capacity against such foes, but to still be partially effective rather than completely useless.

Critical Hits Edit

  • When a critical hit is achieved, multiply the base damage of the weapon (including enhancements it might possess) by its multiplier. Sneak attack, Strength damage, and other sources of damage outside the base weapon damage and enhancements are not multiplied.
  • Example: A +1 Flaming Longsword (1d8+1d6+1 base) would deal 2d8+2d6+2 damage on a critical hit.
  • Example: A +1 Frost Scythe (2d4+1d6+1 base) would deal 8d4+4d6+4 damage on a critical hit.

Design Notes Edit

As a random variable, critical hits benefit monsters, especially when they come in clumps. This can lead to TPKs in hard fights even when a party fights well and uses extremely good tactics. In an effort to reduce the randomness that can come with critical hits, their effects have been toned down. Their power is exceptionally true in the case of many grimoire monsters who don't have a source of separate damage, and who may double all their damage (as opposed to players who traditionally have magical equipment or extra dice of damage).

Scaling Concentration and Tumble Checks Edit

  • To cast a spell defensively you must make a Concentration checks with the DC equal to 10 + spell level + highest BAB of all threatening creatures. For every creature over the first that threatens, this rises by +2.
  • For example, if you want to cast a level 0 spell and are threatened by two creatures, one with a BAB of +3 and another with a BAB of +2, you need to make a concentration checks with a DC of 15. (10 (base) +0 (spell level) +3 (highest BAB) +2 (second creature))
  • To tumble through enemy squares or past squares threatened by enemy, subtract five from the usual DC and instead add the BAB of the threatening creature in question.
  • In both cases, a character may "ignore" an enemy to take an attack of opportunity from them without raising the DC of the skill check by two.

Design Notes Edit

Players would often invest only limitedly in Concentration and Tumble, getting just enough to reliably pass the modest checks required. With this rule in place there is a reason to actually continue investing in these skills, rather than simply leaving them off.

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