As was discussed in my last blog post, our Loremaster for One Ring has chosen to implement a few house rules to the game. Several prospective changes were proposed, discussed amongst the group both before and after, with some kept and some not. Those of you that know me from various Star Wars message boards (particularly the HoloNet or D20 Radio) will know that I largely seem unable to avoid tinkering with the rules of any RPG for very long. So even though I'm not running a One Ring game, why should that natural tendency be suppressed? So, that said, here's some notions that our group came up with to tinker with the rules for One Ring.
House Rule #1: New Weapon and Weapon Skill: Slings
Rationale: This actually cropped up during character creation, as Mirabella's player didn't see her Hobbit as being an archer but also wanted her to be good at throwing things. There's been a few takes on slings as weapons, but the GM wound up basing his take off a version offered by a chap under the handle of "Voidstate," and does the same damage as a short bow but has a lower Injury difficulty, making it easier for armored foes to avoid being wounded, though this is offset by it having no Encumbrance value to speak off and a largely limitless supply of ammo. The weapon itself is covered under the Slings skill, and the GM permitted Mira to swap out Bows for Slings.
In Play: Since Mira has yet to even get a threat of a critical hit with her sling, the lower Injury difficulty hasn't really meant much, though apparently she's got less range with her sling than if she had taken up a short bow, not that range really plays much of a part in One Ring.
Outcome: Here to stay, at least as long as Mirabella's a part of the Company.
House Rule #2: Endurance = Base value + Heart score + Body score
Rationale: The GM felt that character "hit points" were a tad on the low side, and that the Body score was something of a dump stat. Personally, I've seen over on Cubicle 7's One Ring board the house rule of reducing a hero's starting Fatigue score (pretty much the weight of all carried gear) by their Body score as a means of giving Body more value, but our group felt that would step too much on the toes of any Dwarf PCs, as they already get a break on their starting fatigue as their racial perk, to say nothing of most Dwarf backgrounds already providing a pretty healthy Body score.
In Play: Since the fighter-types (Brander and Bruni) had decent Body scores, a few extra points of Endurance helped, particularly for Bruni who took a few more hits than anyone else due to a slightly lower Parry value compared to Brander or Rory, who get by with a stout shield and a high Wits score respectively. And given the prior fight with the swamp troll, we all agreed that having a slight buffer was a good thing.
Outcome: We're keeping this one.
House Rule #3: Add Body score to base weapon damage
Rationale: Again, a way to make Body mean something outside of certain Common skill checks.
In Play: Frankly, the heroes were doing way more damage than they should have, particularly Brander and Bruni, who were able to kill a swamp dweller on just a basic success on our attack rolls, something neither of us was having trouble with achieving, turning what was meant to be a tough encounter into a veritable cake walk for the party.
Outcome: Kicked to the curb. We may revisit this in some fashion or another, as the GM would like how strong/burly a character is have some impact on their damage output, but that might just be a hold-over from D&D that needs to be let go.
House Rule #4: Making the Healing skill more useful to recovering lost Endurance.
Rationale: Mostly from the group's perspective that barring Wounds (which can take a bloody long time to heal if you've got a high Endurance total), the Healing skill in One Ring really isn't all that useful. So, the GM proposed that at the end of a combat encounter, if the heroes are able and willing to take a "short rest," then a PC can attempt a TN 14 Healing check. On a basic success, one patient (including the one making the check) recovers Endurance equal to the healer's Wits. A great success lets the healer treat up to three patients, while an extraordinary success lets the healer treat a number of patients equal to their Heart score.
In Play: This only cropped up once, as Mira wanted to do what she could for the minor scrapes and scars that Balin, Bruni, and Brander had suffered at the claws of the marsh-dwellers, but given she has a pretty high Heart score (one of, if not the highest in the group I think), that meant we all recovered quite a bit of Endurance on top of what we'd get from a normal recovery; this resulted in Brander being fully healed up after the short rest.
Outcome: We still want Healing to be of more use, but the initial implementation was just a bit too good. We're going to try a different take for next time we play, this one being that instead of the degrees of success determining how many folks you heal, they determine how much Endurance is regained, starting with 2 on a simple success, 4 on a great success, and 6 on an extraordinary success, and that you can only tend to one patient per roll, though we're not quite sure on how many rolls would be permitted during a post-combat short rest.
House Rule #5: Reduce Experience and Advancement Point costs by half.
Rationale: From what I've read and how the GM feels about level advancement in level-based games, we both agreed that character progression in One Ring can take a long time. So, to facilitate more rapid character growth, the GM opted to cut the listed costs in half (rounded up where necessary). This was spurred by the fact that we've really only garnered about 12 Advancement Points and 5 Experience Points, so there's not much we can do with our points other than save them up.
In Play: During our third session's Fellowship Phase, we actually started to see some development with our characters, particularly in our common skills. Brander is now better at calling upon his force of personality as well as Ranger-type traits such as stealth and looking for clues, and is a tad wiser than he was prior to this adventure, netting him a Virtue due to increasing his Wisdom rank.
Outcome: We're doubtless going to see our characters advance a lot faster, than they might under the usual progression, so it's just as well that the GM also instituted a "can't raise a skill or trait more than one step per Fellowship Phase" rule, thought that might already be in the books. But since we each have a taste for "instant gratification" when it comes to games with point-based advancement, we're cool with that so long as the GM is.
House Rule #6: Armor reducing Endurance loss from enemy attacks
Rationale: This sparked up from Grimbald's (now Bruni's) player about how armor was generally useless unless the enemy scored a "critical hit," and that unless you were decked out in heavy armor, a lot of crits would still result in wounds. So, we agreed to try out a house rule that any Endurance loss you suffered from an enemy attack was reduced by the number of success dice of protection your armor provided. So Brander in his leather corselet (which provides 2 success dice on Injury tests) would suffer two less points of lost Endurance when struck by a goblin's sword.
In Play: This was part of why Bruni, in spite of getting mobbed by marsh dwellers, wasn't taken out in spite of starting low on Endurance, as his mail shirt simply absorbed so much of the damage they were dealing. Even Brander (was still hurting from the swamp troll fight) wasn't hurt much.
Outcome: While we do agree that armor could stand to be a tad more useful, going the route of "damage reduction" isn't for us, particularly if the GM had chosen to let it apply to the bad guys as well, as that would result in combat slowing down quite a bit, especially against a very heavily armored foe or one with truckloads of Endurance, or worse yet a foe with both.
House Rule #7: Increased Injury TN from a great or extraordinary success
Rationale: Rather than simply going with "more successes equals more Endurance loss," C7 forum member cheeplives offered the idea of rather than adding your Body score to the damage dealt when you get a great or extraordinary success, you could instead increase the Injury TN of your attack by +2 (great success) or +4 (extraordinary success). Granted, you first have to roll well enough on your Feat die to possibly wound your target, but it would provide a better chance to injure a well-armored foe.
In Play: This actually showed up in our previous session against the swamp troll, with the GM allowing me to put the extraordinary success I rolled to better use, as the troll still had plenty of Endurance and the fight was starting to drag on, giving Brander better odds of ending the fight right then and there.
Outcome: This one is also a keeper. So thanks to cheeplives for this one.
House Rule #8: Special Training during Fellowship Phase
Rationale: As you might recall, I mentioned that there wasn't many uses for Treasure (the method that One Ring uses to track accumulated wealth). However, cheeplives struck again with the optional undertaking that permits a character to raise a single Common or Weapon skill, paying in Treasure points rather than Advancement or Experience points to reflect the costs of finding a suitable teacher and/or training facilities. Cheeplives set the costs a bit higher than our GM, who opted for New Level x4 for Common Skills and New Level x8 for Weapon Skills.
In Play: None of us are wealthy enough to really take advantage of this, but it is nice to know that the option is out there.
Outcome: As yet to be determined.
So there you have it, eight House Rules that our group considered and (for the most part) tried out. Maybe you'll find something of interest in the above, maybe not. There's also a thread with various house rules on the Cubicle 7 forums to be found here for further reading if you are so inclined: