On Tuesday, I posted about a few house rules I’ll be implementing with my new Gamma World campagin, which starts in about a week. This post is a continuation of that discussion; these particular house rules are not specific to Gamma World, but could apply to any D&D 4e campaign. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Using 4d6 for trained skill checks
This is a concept I’ve been mulling over for almost a year now. I want characters that are trained in a skill to have a better chance of success and a more level set of results than a character who is just winging something on intuition and innate ability. Using a trained skill, therefore, will be a straight 4d6 roll. I know this will yield less “high” results, but it will also yield less swingy results. 4d6 yields results between 12 and 16 about 50% of the time. Results between 11 and 17 show up almost 70% of the time. That means that a level 1 character using a trained skill with their primary ability will hit or exceed a DC 20 70% of the time. Am I concerned that this will make skill checks too easy for some characters? Yes, I am. If skill checks (and challenges) are always trivialized, I may end up either upping DCs slightly or leaning more heavily on group checks. Time will tell.
Session based leveling system
Because most of my players are seniors in high school, I know I only have them for two hours, twice a month, until the end of next summer. I wanted to take the campaign all the way to level 10, and if I leveled them simply by experience points, they wouldn’t make it there in time. So instead, the characters will simply level up every two sessions (once a month) regardless of what happens in those two session. In this way, we will finish up the campaign in July before they all leave for college. Of course, less bookkeeping on everyone’s part is another good reason to do this. I’m free to put together whatever type of encounter I want, or have a role-play only session, without having to worry about hitting target xp numbers. Hopefully it will put more focus on fun and flexibility.
These next two items aren’t house rules, but rather approaches I’m taking to campaign design. Neither of them are my own ideas; unfortunately I can’t give credit where it’s due in one case because I can’t remember where I read it.
Using ex-players as villans
Instead of doing all the work involving the movement of villans in the background of the campaign, I’ve turned over the villans to three of my ex-players. They’ve each designed a villan for the PCs to face and hopefully defeat, and working with them, I’ve inserted them into the campaign at certain points. They also have a plan and timeline that the villan will stick to barring any reactions to character movements. As the characters interact with the world, I will inform the “villans” of anything they would catch wind of, and they can adjust their plans accordingly. Not only does this take a bit of work off my shoulders, but it also brings another real personality into the campaign, and hopefully simulates the villans more realistically because my ex-players will only be reacting to the information about PC movements that I choose to give them.
AngryDM’s Project Slaughterhouse
Presented in his Schroedinger, Checkov, and Seamus article, this last campaign planning tool is something that I may or may not end up using. It’s a great idea, and since the campaign will be taking place in our “Gammatized” town, the location-with-claimed-territories requirements are met. However, I’m going to wait and see if the group leans towards hooks involving more sandboxy faction politics or if they lean towards linear hooks. If they want to reclaim territories in town or shift power from one faction to the other, I will certainly be implementing this. However, if they choose to follow more “railsy” paths presented to them, I’m not going to go through all the planning work involved. This one will all come down to player preference, and since I haven’t played with this group yet, I’m going to wait on committing to it.