D&D 4th Edition Towards Ravenloft 4E: Fear, Horror and Madness





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    Towards Ravenloft 4E: Fear, Horror and Madness

    Being the impatient fellow I am, I have no interest in awaiting Wizards attempts (if any; we have no guarantees) to make a 4E version of Ravenloft. Instead I am jumping straight in to develop a few rule systems which would "layer over" the current 4E game to create the appropriate feel and tenor of a Ravenloft campaign.

    This thread is for discussing Fear, Horror and Madness. I welcome all substantive feedback on the quality of the rules suggestions, including wholly replacing my suggested mechanics with all new mechanics if you have a potentially superior idea.

    There will be future threads for discussing other mechanics necessary to run a RL campaign (such as Dark Powers checks).

    ----------------------------------------------------

    Fear, Horror and Madness (Meta)

    My first question is whether FHM checks should be based on the Will Defense. Does it seem right to you that Fighters or Rogues would be more susceptible to FHM saves than Wizards or Clerics? Perhaps it does, thematically. But what about class balance? Given how often FHM may arrive in a RL campaign, would this be an unnecessary burden on the characters who normally have poor Will Defense? Just looking at by Character Builder portfolio shows a same-level range of Will Defense of 6 points. That's pretty big.

    (It's also sort of bemusing that my big, violent Minotaur Barbarian would be the PC most likely to run away screaming)

    Perhaps for consistency (rather than making a new Defense category) we do base FHM checks on the Will Defense but compensate certain classes by providing them a bonus to their Will Defense solely for purposes of making FHM checks?

    Proposed Rule: Classes without a +2 to their Will Defense receive a +2 to FHM checks and another +1 if their build choice de-emphasize both Charisma and Wisdom.


    Fear.

    Fear is the easiest rule to implement because there is no lasting effect. There are also a number of Fear-based effects in the 4E PHB to serve as examples.

    Example triggers (these are largely taken verbatim from S&S's 3E RLCS and the AD&D 2e Boxed Set):
    The group is facing an encounter apparently 6+ levels higher than the party.
    Half of the group's members are killed.
    An opponent has demonstrated a one-hit-kill ability.
    A menacing creature is immune to the group's attacks.
    A menacing creature is at least two size categories larger than the biggest member of the group.
    A menacing creature has a Fear inducing special attack.
    The character is helpless and threatened by immediate death (trapped underwater, for example).

    Fear Attack: Chr vs. Will (If the trigger is inanimate the Attack would be determined as a Trap of an appropriate level.)

    Action Type: Free (basically everyone exposed to the Fear Trigger is "attacked" by the triggering creature's Chr. If the Trigger is a Fear-inducing Power than the action type becomes the same as the Power.)

    Area of Effect: Burst (range would depend on the type of threat (can the threat actually reach you in 1~2 rounds?), and certain types of barriers may grant a bonus or immunity to the check, such as iron bars that physically prevent a creature from reaching PCs on the other side).

    Effect: The PC must spend at least one Move Action each round to move its speed + Trigger's Charisma away from the center of the Burst. The PC avoids unsafe squares and difficult terrain if it can. This movement provokes opportunity attacks. If the PC cannot flee it suffers a -2 to Attacks and Defenses. No Save first round, then Save Ends.


    Horror & Madness

    Well, it's getting too late here for me to continue. Must sleep. But I will say that since both Horror and Madness induce lasting conditions it is my intention to use a Condition Track similar to the Disease Track in the DMG. I will post the details later. Your thoughts on whether this course is a wise one are welcome.
    I don't "tell stories" when I play D&D. I adventure. Afterward, when the gold is counted and the bodies piled high, we may tell stories about how it all went down. Or not.

    The slaughter will continue until play improves.

  2. #2
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    The Great Druid (Lvl 17)

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    I have to wonder if these would be better implemented in individual monster descriptions. That way there are multiple types of fear and madness (i'm not familiar with horror checks), depending on the monster you face. These could be written up like the "moon frenzy" entry for werewolves.

    BTW, it's weird that fear targets Will. Most of the 1 on 1 character vs. dragon illustrations I've seen are knights facing the dragon, not clerics or spellcasters. It seemed to me like a good place to use the 50/50 save.

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    I think you would have to design different types of fear inducers, targetting different defences.

    most appropriate stat in bold.

    Vs. Will (Wis or Cha) - effects that challange a persons perceptions or beliefs. Potenical common reactions; -2 penalty to actions; dazed; back off in fear etc.

    Vs. Fort (Str or Con) - horrifying sensory shocks that could cause a physical reaction. Potencial common reactions; stunned (while vomiting for a round); falling prone dazed (fainting)

    Vs. Reflex (Dex or Int) - realisation of a horrific truth or accumulated mental strain. Potencial common reactions; insanity (you could use the disease track to add appropriate temporary insanities to PCs that could be cured over the course of a couple of days or become permanent if they got to the end of the track)

    Running a horror game I would also be tempted to add a mechanic for tracking madness points (for want of a better term). These could be used along a track that gave various penalties and bonuses as you drifted slowly into madness or started to become more attuned to the plane.

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    Check out the adventure, "In the Depths of Avarice," from Dungeon 157. They have a, "disease," in it called "twisted domination," that functions like a sort of madness. You have to make wisdom checks rather than endurance checks to shake it off/avoid suffering additional effects.
    http://www.enworld.org/forum/4e-discussion/276057-gods-dead-gods-dominions-list.html

  5. #5
    Or maybe we could go ahead and give characters a Sanity score to handle madness and incorporate fear and horror effects into monster attacks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nymrohd View Post
    Or maybe we could go ahead and give characters a Sanity score to handle madness and incorporate fear and horror effects into monster attacks.
    You could, but the slight mental problem I have with this is that it is D&D and not Call of Cthuluth.

    What exactly is the sanity threshold of a person who hacks monsters to death with a greataxe, regularly fights undead or wields powerful magic or divine spells? All these things are usual everyday things to an adventurer (in a normal campaign), so finding the point where normal becomes horrible is an issue.

    One way would be to grant PCs a tolerance or hardiness threshold to the general level of horror from certain situations.

    rough thoughts:-

    Defenders - cast iron stomach - used to blood, gore and violence
    Strikers - determination - used to inflicting maximum brutal damage or short term resolve to get the job done
    Controllers - Practiced mind - used to dealing with abstract thought and magical effects
    Leaders - Even tempered - general tolerance to all effects

    I don't know, it will need quite a bit of thinking about, and would really depend on what campaign mood you were going for.

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