Thank you for this very interesting document.
Oh cool. I've been wondering what the secrets were meant to be.
Fantastic guide.Yeah, so the Cult Secrets are cult-specific, thematically appropriate special abilities gained by the Cultist at level 6, 14, and 18. I try to design these so they are distinct from just bonus spells (which the cultist gains via Cult Spells), but sometimes the cult secret duplicates a spell effect but with some added condition or duration.
Any plans to flesh out the other cults? 5 down, 17 more to go (actually 16 if Aklathu doesn't have any priests)!
I do, but although none of these cults are exactly Sunday School, I guess the details and secrets of a few of the more villainous cults should go in a yet-to-be-released "Game Master's Guide to the World of Xoth" rather than the Player's Guide... !
Also note that when Mongoose Publishing did their conversion of "The Spider-God's Bride" to the Legend RPG some years ago, they added some details of the cults to one of the introductory chapters.
Do you have any plans to complement the artwork as to not have to repeat images in a relatively short book such as yours (pages 34 and 35 for example; and 47)?
"The artworks deserve special mention: I have RARELY seen a book with this many amazing original b/w-pieces. Big kudos! The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort-detriment... but then again... IT’S FREE. It's the single most lavishly-illustrated free file I have seen in YEARS. I mean it."
The "albeit villainous" part here is important.There are lots of physically powerful, albeit villainous, casters in S&S, so I'm not sure about this Real Men Don't Use Magic trope.
Yeah well, that's not what I'm saying.Exactly. As the title of this thread indicates, this book is about using the D&D fifth edition rules to play games inspired by swords and sorcery fiction.
If you don't think 5E is a good choice for S&S, then by all means use a different gaming system
I agree with this. Vanilla 5e for me just doesn’t bring that dangerous vibe to the table. The optional instant death rule in Xoth does a good job of decoupling the mechanic from hp inflation, something which is aimed for by the standard high heroic 5e. S&S needs a darker more dangerous and exciting vibe where danger lurks even for high level hero’s.The section heading is called "Combat Is Deadly" and if it makes the "heroes" less secure about themselves I believe the rules tweak has worked as intended.
I agree with this. Vanilla 5e for me just doesn’t bring that dangerous vibe to the table. The optional instant death rule in Xoth does a good job of decoupling the mechanic from hp inflation, something which is aimed for by the standard high heroic 5e. S&S needs a darker more dangerous and exciting vibe where danger lurks even for high level hero’s.
To that end I’d like to suggest a couple of rule changes.
1. On a critical hit, inspiration can be spent to allow a roll on the system shock/massive damage table in the DMG.
2. If a target is surprised, incapacitated, unconscious, or paralysed and takes damage from a critical hit, they must roll a Con save with the DC equalling the rolled damage, on a failure fall to zero hit points.
The DC could be tweaked to 10, or half damage which ever is higher. This would mean that assassins would be dangerous even to high level opponents, and the rule would still work along side the existing assassins abilities.
At higher levels in 5e the threat and drama can often be lost in supposedly dangerous encounters. The system shock rules in the DMG have some colourful damage results and are triggered on loosing half your hit points on a one-shot. Decoupling them from the half hit-point wound threshold as I’ve suggested above makes them effective at all levels in the game, much as you have done with the instant death rule.
The One-shot take down rule is another device to create drama at all levels. 5e has the safety net of the death saves so the coupling of these two rules can help create drama but at the same time give players a chance for a comeback.
The other alternative to spending inspiration on a critical, is to allow max damage on critical hits to trigger the system shock rule. Both approaches also allow low damage weapons like knives to be deadly in the right circumstances, something the wound threshold can’t do at high levels.
Actually you could use both inspiration and max damage approaches with criticals in the game to trigger a roll on the DMG system shock table.
Unfortunately, no it doesn't.The optional instant death rule in Xoth does a good job of decoupling the mechanic from hp inflation, something which is aimed for by the standard high heroic 5e. S&S needs a darker more dangerous and exciting vibe where danger lurks even for high level hero’s.
Instant Death: Several variations on massive damage thresholds and results are possible. A possible starting point is that a character’s massive damage threshold is equal to his current Constitution score plus his character level. When damage reduces the character to 0 hit points and there is damage remaining, the character dies if the remaining damage equals or exceeds the massive damage threshold.
For example, a 6th-level character with a Constitution of 13 is killed if an attack would reduce him to –19 hp or less.
But the instant death rule as given adds nearly zero insta-kill chance, once characters are off the very lowest levels. All it does is add a considerable risk of not just dropping unconscious from losing all your hp, but never waking up again. While that is a worthwhile goal in itself (and indeed is strived for by many rules systems), it is arguably not appropriate for S&S games (as opposed to novels), and it is not what the stated design intent says.In sword and sorcery stories, the protagonists regularly kill their foes with a single well-placed hit. Altering the instant death rule makes it possible to simulate such scenes. But it also makes combat much more deadly for the player characters!
This would be a rule in line with its design intent.Instant Death: A character dies when the enemy scores a critical hit where the weapon die scores great damage.
For daggers and other d4 weapons: when a 4 is rolled. (25% of all crits)
For short swords and other d6 weapons: when a 5 or 6 is rolled. (33% of all crits)
For long swords and other d8 weapons: when a 6, 7 or 8 is rolled. (37.5% of all crits)
For halberds and other d10 weapons, when a 7, 8, 9 or 10 is rolled. (40% of all crits)
For greataxes and other d12 weapons, when a 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12 is rolled. (41.6% of all crits)
For ease of use, write down the needed instant death damage die result on your character sheet. For example, if you wield a battleaxe in two hands (a d10 weapon in that configuration), you'd note "Instant death: 7+" on your character sheet to remind you any critical scoring a 7 or better would kill your opponent.
For example, a character is killed if an attack with a battleaxe scores a critical and rolls a 6 on the weapon die. His level doesn't matter.
I think you have a good point, and I'm really on the fence myself about this rule. There's even a sentence in the Player's Guide (that you left out when you quoted the rest of the paragraph) that explicitly calls out that this is up for discussion:That said, the overarching question remains: is really instant death appropriate for a S&S game?
To an extent I agree. Yes, this is what my post was largely concerning.I would argue the way to achieve the stated design goals would instead to feature a constant small probability of "killing blow" to every attack.
Except, again, it really doesn't.To an extent I agree. Yes, this is what my post was largely concerning.
5e has an existing optional rule that does this already. It’s the massive damage/system shock rule in the DMG.
And this is precisely the reason.My feeling is though that the trigger for that rule (sustaining damage equal to half hp Max from one source), is too dangerous at early levels, and too high at later levels.
Sure.I think you have a good point, and I'm really on the fence myself about this rule. There's even a sentence in the Player's Guide (that you left out when you quoted the rest of the paragraph) that explicitly calls out that this is up for discussion:
"GMs should discuss with their players before adding this rule, to agree on the specifics."