D&D 4th Edition Towards Ravenloft 4E: Fear, Horror and Madness - Page 2




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  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Irda Ranger View Post
    Suggested Triggers:
    • 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.
    • You are Helpless or Restrained and threatened by immediate death.
    • You are suffering ongoing damage (other than necrotic or psychic) per round greater than your Healing Surge value.

    • You are suffering ongoing necrotic or psychic damage per round greater than your Healing Surge value.
    • A creature at least 6+ levels higher than you is trying to Dominate you or otherwise take over your mind.
    I am sure these all seem very reasonable to you but I am having issues imagining the type of game where these triggers would be relevent.

    • The group is facing an encounter apparently 6+ levels higher than the party
    Surely an encounter 6 levels higher than the party would kill them pretty quickly.

    • Half of the group's members are killed.
    Is this going to be a regular party slaughter?

    • An opponent has demonstrated a one-hit-kill ability.
    The opponent would have to be massively higher level than the PCs to get anywhere near doing this, again is this going to happen regularly enough to build extra rules around?

    • A menacing creature is immune to the group's attacks.
    A creature that is immune to the groups attacks means they are dead anyway.

    • You are Helpless or Restrained and threatened by immediate death.
    This seems very reasonable on looking at the other triggers.

    • You are suffering ongoing damage (other than necrotic or psychic) per round greater than your Healing Surge value.
    Again what sort or threat is dealing this amount of ongoing damage?

    • A creature at least 6+ levels higher than you is trying to Dominate you or otherwise take over your mind.
    Yet again, how many +6 level threats are the PCs going to face? Surely a +6 level controller isn't just going to be trying to dominating a PC its definately going to be dominating a PC.

    My gut response to all this is that if any of these trigger events happen then you will be a long way past the need for additional rules to add horror or fear. Any group of PCs or players are already going to be feeling terror, panic and the cold hand of death on their shoulders.

    I am not trying to be difficult here, I just think I am missing something very simple and very important in the basic premise of the game you are trying to run.

    Please can you explain what I am missing?

 

  • #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Irda Ranger View Post
    I admit the idea of Ref vs. Fear seemed odd to me at first, but consider that it's not that the Fear "attacks" that Defense so much as the PC is relying on that Defense to defend them from the Threat.
    My personal way of mentally reconciling this was to imagine the kind of shock that makes you 'jump out of your skin'. I'm thinking of stuff like Johnny Depp getting sucked into the bed in Nightmare on Elm Street, the scene in The Thing when the guy's head pops off and scuttles away, or the part of Alien when the main character picks up a cat, which hisses, then looks up to see the alien right next to him.

  • #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Mesh Hong View Post
    I am not trying to be difficult here, I just think I am missing something very simple and very important in the basic premise of the game you are trying to run.

    Please can you explain what I am missing?
    The given triggers were my attempt to translate into 4E-speak the triggers given in the previous editions; but I didn't change the triggers from those given in the previous Editions' campaign settings more than necessary to effect the translation.

    For instance, I translated facing an EL+4 Encounter in 3.x or a Encounter with 2x as many HD as the party has in AD&D 2e (the exact triggers) into facing a Level+6 Encounter in 4E (since there's a slightly flatter power curve in 4E). Here are some others:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenloft Campaign Setting 3E, p. 65
    A character should make a Fear save when facing overwhelming odds and/or immediate, dire physical danger.

    • The most powerful character in the group or half of the group's members are killed.
    • 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 the Frightful Presence special attack.
    • The character is helpless and threatened by immediate death (trapped underwater, for example).
    Do you think I got the translation wrong or do you think it was the intent of the original RLCS to only force a Fear check when it's really, really obvious that a Fear check is necessary? Perhaps merely the possibility of Fear checks is supposed to haunt the players and keep them on their toes, even if they don't come up that often? I think this may actually be the likely explanation, as "Fear" is not a power of any particular monster but a possible reaction to every single monster or encounter; it should be sort of hard to trigger, otherwise every fight will end with someone running away or crapping their pants. That might get old after a little while, while a the 'rare but memorable' Fears will really just drive home how overwhelmed they were.

    Thoughts?
    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.

  • #14
    I like the idea of using the disease track for these.. instead of using a normal attack, the FHM mechanic can simply be a disease track that auto-hits, but the 'initial' stage has a very minor effect.

    SOmething like:
    Fear Struck
    At the end of your turn, make a Wis Check. less than 19, worsen. 20 to 25 stay the same, 26 or better improve

    Cured. No more checks required - Initial. -2 to melee attacks - Frightened. If you attempt to attack the creature you are afraid of, make a save. Failure results in losing the action - Paralyzed. You are slowed and must move away from the creature you are afraid of.


    eh.. or something like that

    That way you could have unique effects due to specific locations, creatures or events.

    Some of these could use other stats (Chr, Int, or Con) as the base.
    Feats like 'Power of the Body' could allow a character to use Str to fend off Fear tracks..

    and yes, my feat names suck
    Aut Tyalie is Elvish for "Go Play Games"


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  • #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Primitive Screwhead View Post
    I like the idea of using the disease track for these.. instead of using a normal attack, the FHM mechanic can simply be a disease track that auto-hits, but the 'initial' stage has a very minor effect.
    That's my plan for Horror, Madness and Powers Checks, but "Fear" (in all Editions) has always been something that strikes quickly and is quickly recovered from. It's just sensible to use the "Save Ends" mechanic for that.
    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.

  • #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Irda Ranger View Post
    otherwise every fight will end with someone running away or crapping their pants. That might get old after a little while
    You don't know how much i'm trying to avoid some well-placed toilet humor right now.

    /resume thread with my apologies


    I'm fond of The Screwhead's FHM-as-disease suggestion.

  • #17
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    Ignore Mesh Hong
    Do you think I got the translation wrong or do you think it was the intent of the original RLCS to only force a Fear check when it's really, really obvious that a Fear check is necessary? Perhaps merely the possibility of Fear checks is supposed to haunt the players and keep them on their toes, even if they don't come up that often? I think this may actually be the likely explanation, as "Fear" is not a power of any particular monster but a possible reaction to every single monster or encounter; it should be sort of hard to trigger, otherwise every fight will end with someone running away or crapping their pants. That might get old after a little while, while a the 'rare but memorable' Fears will really just drive home how overwhelmed they were.
    When I think of horror based games I think of Call of Cthulhu, so that is what I use as a base model for how fear and horror can be used as an integral part of a game. Obviously a D&D game cannot use the same system or be as extreme as that in CoC as the premise of the world is very different.

    I think it would probably useful to separate three different but related states for use in D&D. Those being Fear, Terror and Madness.

    1: Fear - triggered by the unknown, unusual, sinister or surprising.

    This would be the most common state a PC would find themselves in, and would generally confer a minor or temporary effect.

    e.g.
    As you pass through the ancient doorway and step into the darkness beyond your torch flickers and the shadows seem to dance along the cracked and dusty walls around you, the floorboards creak and .......

    <insert fear attack vs. Will>

    fail: ......you get the sense that you are not alone, something waits for you in the darkness...you can feel it. (take a -1 penalty to all actions until the end of the next encounter)

    pass: ......you steel yourself against the darkness, this is no different than every other dark room you have been in before.

    or (standard fear effect)

    The Wraith rears up with an almighty scream, rattling everything in the room. All round you small items fall from shelves breaking on the floor, the windows rattle and you can feel death itself reaching for your soul.....

    <insert standard fear burst attack vs. Will>

    fail: ......the blood drains from your face, as white as the wraith before you, you freeze in absolute fear (stunned (save ends) after effect -2 penalty to all actions (save ends))

    pass: .....but this foul spirit will haunt the old storeroom no longer, you grit your teeth and stand your ground.

    2. Terror - triggered by the monsterous, ungodly, alien or malicious.

    This would be a much less common state the PCs would find themselves in, reserved for special use in important encounters or situations.

    e.g.
    As you lay strapped to the table with rusting iron bands cutting at your arms and legs the man with the impossibly yellow eyes and bloodstained mask walks slowly toward you. In his hand he holds a wicked looking curved and jagged blade. Leaning in he whisperes:
    "I don't want you to tell me where you hid the amulet......I want you to be strong, I want you to be brave......it's so much more fun that way....for me"

    <insert Terror attack vs. Fortitude>

    fail: terrified you find yourself pleading for your life, you are prepared to tell this beast everything and anything....you just don't want to become part of his experiments.....you want to live.

    pass: suddenly you realise that this could be a golden opportunity to throw your nemesis off the track. (you may make a bluff or diplomacy check to give out false information....but if you fail things could go from bad to worse)

    or

    You bring important information to the deputy mayor, explaining how the string of recent murders has something to do with the watch captains wife. Standing by the fireside the mayor listens then replies:
    "this is grave news indeed.....I had high hopes that you would prove more useful to me than this, I told you to center your enquiries at the docks.... the cult of Toris there should have been your primary target. If you can't even do that right I have no choice other than to KILL YOU MYSELF....." the mayor swings round to face the PCs, to their horror the skin slides from his face revealing purple flesh beneath and a mass of tentacles writhing where his mouth should be....the deputy mayor is a mindflayer!!!

    <insert Terror attack vs. Will>

    fail: the deputy mayor is a mindflayer and he's going to eat you brain if you don't get away from him right now! (you are dazed and must move away from the monster as fast as possible screaming about brain eaters (save ends) after effect you are dazed (save ends)

    pass: of course, it all makes sense now..... you have been duped, but this can all end right here, right now if you can kill this insideous foul creature.

    3. Madness - triggered by prolonged periods of fear or terror or by the truely horrific or alien

    This would be the rarest state a PC would find themselves in, and would be reserved for appropriate situations.

    e.g.

    The haunted mansion the PCs have been investigating has been unnerving them for a while. The PCs have endured banging doors, distant screams, bleeding walls and sudden black outs. Anyone who has failed three enviromental fear attacks starts to crack under the weight of the unknown.

    <insert attack vs. Will>

    fail: Its the spirits, the spirits!! You shouldn't be interfering with the dead, if they want this place let them have it.

    You gain "undead phobic", and apply the initial results from the madness track.

    after every encounter you may make an endurance or wisdom check , or an ally can make a heal check.

    improve: DC <insert appropriate value>
    maintain: DC <insert appropriate value>
    worsen: DC <insert appropriate value>

    Madness track:
    -1: back to sanity - cured
    initial: in the presence of undead you take a -1 penalty to all actions
    +1: in the presence of undead you take a -2 penalty to all actions
    +2: in the presence of undead and are dazed and you are take a -2 penalty to all actions
    +3: in the presence of undead you fall prone and are stunned

    pass: you are slightly unnerved but hold yourself together, telling yourself it will all be over soon if you just keep calm.

    These examples show the kind of approach I would take. I think it would be far better to design this sort of thing into a campaign rather than come up with an arbitory list of triggers based off extreme situations.

    With a horror game each element should be carefully worked into the exact context of the situation. Just relying on triggers like "killing half the party" or "taking ongoing damage more than your healing surge value" seems like a heavy handed and not very useful approach.

    what do you think?

  • #18
    I really don't think there's a need to design new attacks for those effects. It's really only a matter of interpretation. There is already some fear/madness/horror attacks out there in the MM.

    The ghoul in front of you reeks of death and it empty sockets shows burning yellow eyes that make you chill. It screeches at you and tries to rip your guts out.
    [making claw attack, succeeding]

    You would like to ran away from this nightmarish creature... but your feet just don't seems to listen. You are immobilised.
    I don't even mention the Death's visage attack of the Banshee or the death burst of the Chilling Zombie.

    You could also rename/reflavor some attacks to better illustrate those fear/madness/whatnot horrorish effects.

    All you need is already there.


    That said. A Sanity system could be implemented if you want the characters to strip more and more into the chaos of fear. There shouldn't be any penalty from loosing sanity points, other than when reaching 0, your character dies/turns mad/becomes evil/gets corrupted/etc. If you give additionnal penalties, you'll start to debalance things and it will quickly become out of control. Plus, it's not that fun having to take penalties for what your DM thinks your character fear. It's really all about ambiance and role play. Maybe at certain points they'll start shivering, having hallucinations, waking up sweating and screaming at night, speaking to themselves, starting to feel corrupted, becoming pale, etc.

    Lots of situations could let you loose sanity points (some have beem mentionned in previous posts). You wouldn't need a strict list. Keep open minded and when a situation shows where you think one's could be freaking out, tell the player his character loose a sanity point. Be aware of the reactions of your players. If you see them shiver or having a "ewww", it may be a good insight of when it could lead to sanity point lost. Heck, your players could even ask! "OMG! That was freak! Is my character losing a sanity point?".

    Either way, the system shouldn't be a PENALTY but en enjoyment!

  • #19

  • #20
    If it were me, I'd use the existing disease system for mental illnesses. Just apply the gradually worsening symptoms to a disease track and make a "Remove Madness" ritual available.
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