I’m answering the list from Brendan; this should tell you a lot about me right now. Note that I’m currently “between games” – we’ll see how long it goes before I can actually hammer out another play group. This represents how I would run a D&D-based game right now, or have run one in the past; other systems are their own post…
- Ability scores generation method?
Depends on the game and my mood. I prefer 3d6 down the line, with one extra roll that can replace any of the others. Attribute adjustment follows Holmes Basic – strip 2 from another, specified stat to get 1 in Prime Requisite. I’ve also used good old 6x4d6 drop 1 a la carte and 3d6 down the line.
- How are death and dying handled?
Usually with tantrums. Seriously, though, PCs die. It happens. Now if only it’d happen to one of my players (no shit, no fudging, only one player in one game I’ve run in the last 5 years has died.)0 HP = croaked. Below that: also maimed, party may need to recover bits to get a proper raise in. If the character is abandoned around most monsters, they’re very likely to be eaten. Coups de Grace, execution, terminal diseases, all Save or Die effects, and sacrifice bring the character to 0 automatically.
I also use a modified System Shock: the character goes unconscious if they fail, for 1d6 rounds if the attack is less than half their hitpoints, or Turns if more.
- What about raising the dead?
If it ever f*ing happened, the PCs could either choose a slow, sure, expensive method (based loosely on their cash – you can owe the Church a favor for a major discount), or a fast and messy, cheap version with a chance of the character coming back.. wrong. Or a very cheap Reincarnation from the local Druid – even for eaten or dismembered characters. Hope you roll well.
- How are replacement PCs handled?
(sound of the transporters cycling up, twin vertical glows spread apart as the PC appears in a shower of golden sparkles.)
- Initiative: individual, group, or something else?
I’ve used individual since day 1, probably not gonna change it. Usually use 1D10, counting down.
- Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work?
Fumbles: you roll another immediate D20, and I adjucate based on circumstances. Bad rolls, your weapon saves vs. Crushing Blow; good rolls, you save or stumble/drop your weapon. Mediocre rolls, you’ll usually wind up disarmed, no save.
Crits: Roll 1D20, I come up with something. can range from disarming your opponent, to double damage, to their armor taking a save or being destroyed, or knocking them unconscious.
And what’s sauce for the goose.. well, PCs need to buy new armor occasionally, right?
I should probably make a table for this shit.
- Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet?
Peircers not a problem, no called shots to the head, less likely to get cinematically knocked the f*ck out by a crit.
- Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?
Yup. You can also rob them, be robbed, or say incredibly stupid things to an NPC and get shanked.
- Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything?
I started out playing very, very deadly – by-the-book Holmes.
When I started 3x, I actually gave a damn about CR, but rapidly discovered how much of a pain in the arse it was to “balance” all your encounters – and how little drama the characters felt in the ensuing combats.
Now? It’s possible to kill almost anything. But not necessarily with the resources the PCs will have. Translation: Run the hell away.
- Level-draining monsters: yes or no?
Rare, deadly, horrible. I treat them more like traps – generally there will be clues that a ‘drainer is about, and the PCs will have a chance to avoid them. Unless they’re the Hounds of Tindalos (future post, that).
- Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death?
Sometimes, a passed save means you’re dead – dragonfire sucks. They tend to be rare, though; I prefer lasting, nasty effects for my poisons and curses – cause casualties, not kills..
- How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked?
Formerly: I tracked it fanatically as a player. As a DM.. not so much.
Currently: Going to try the LotFP system, since it looks like it isn’t impossible to use on the fly. Edit: Works like a frickin’ charm. Using forever.
You better damned well go into one of my dungeons with enough torches, spikes, rope, and ammo, because I track them. Your light will almost certainly run out before your food, though, and when all else fails there’s “orc”/Long Pig.
- 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?
You need some down time, at least OOC. I usually pass out XP at the end of an adventure, and observe the rolls/help with selections after the main session or at the beginning of the next.
No Training. It’s silly.
Arcane casters with a lab/library (they can begin establishing one before Name level) get an automatic spell of any level they can cast on levelling. Casters without name a spell and roll chance-to-learn. Spellbooks are moderately common treasures, however, counting as a “treasure map” in most hoard rolls. They can contain rare spells (I.E. not in the PHB), and often have rather nasty defenses – poison needles in the locks, trick bindings, Sigils and Runes, and monster-attracting scents, to name a few.
Divine casters have sharply restricted spell lists (for now. Working on new rules, to be seen in a future post), and cast more dynamically.
- What do I get experience for?
(Flexible amounts) Clever problem-solving, making significant sacrifices, doing class-appropriate things, making me laugh.
(Fixed amounts) Getting treasure, tithing magic items beyond the amount required by your class, killing things. I’m seriously considering adding in Carousing rules, simply because they look funny.
- How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination?
Description (first tier), dice rolling (when actively searching for certain types of traps, or when about to set one off for certain races and type of trap), saving throws (once tripped), kobolds on sticks.
- Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work?
Morale is the usual 2D6 system, with modifiers for treatment, charisma, and pay.
I also use Reaction Tables, religiously, modified by the Charisma of the FIRST party member to speak/act, or the average of the party’s CHA if the mobs have surprise.
- How do I identify magic items?
Take them to a Sage, play with them, cast Identify or Legend Lore if you’re rich and impatient, have a Bard in the party…
- Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions?
You can. They tend to be rare, extremely expensive, and hard to fence: potions can have side effects, and are usually only available from people on the weird side of society (all those fumes from the Henbane..). Holy Water is easy for Lawful-ish, Good-ish characters, but harder for others, and known sacrilegious acts will generally completely fuck you out of support from any allied religions.
- Can I create magic items? When and how?
When you create a lab and start spending money on it.
How? Retain a Sage, fire off a Legend Lore, get the Bard to give some advice.. basically, make up a recipe and try it out. Research makes it more likely that the thing will work: days spent working and better/weirder ingredients help too. On a day you work on a magic item, you can’t cast any spells, from dawn to dawn, and your memory is emptied. Potions can be made in batches, provided the ingredients are sufficient.
Clerics must fast, sacrifice, and pray: those who have served their deity well may be rewarded for diligence and patience. Ritual purity doesn’t hurt. This can take days, and may not work at all. In both cases, making a weapon is harder than making a potion or scroll.
- What about splitting the party?
You can. Do you really want to?
Again, these represent the current state of play, not how I’ve rolled in the past