Tuesday 5 November 2013

13A Homebrew: Decreasing DC's

So as some of the readers of this blog may know, i'm currently running an Old-School esq Megadungeon Crawl via Roll20 and Hangouts. This has led me to re-read all my OSR rulebooks (OD&D, AD&D and other non TSR products) for inspiration and to try and get the 'mood' right. So far so good, but i'm sure my players are the best people to ask.

(Don't worry if you're reading. No spoilers)

One thing that strikes a clear difference is the lack of a skill list in early version of D&D, there are skills - just not catalogued into neat list that 3e/4e is notable for. For example Elves will find secret doors (effectively the Perception/Search skill) on a 1 or 2 out of 6 on a d6, everyone else its just a 1.

I'd normally houserule this so every turn they spend looking, the odds of success increase - ensuring that a character will find a secret door automatically if the spend 6 turns (1 hour) looking for it. Or, for example, 4 in 6 chance if they spend 4 turns looking (40 minutes) Because if the characters can find a secret door after looking at the same place for an hour - whats the point?

So i've been thinking on how I can transfer this houserule across to my Megadungeon (and probably other) games i'm running. Decreasing DC's. Every turn a player spends performing an action the set DC decreases by 2 (assuming time can be used to increase the chances of success) meaning a Ridiculously hard task to perform in 10 minutes/1 turn at the Adventurer tier (DC 25) is much more manageable if you spend 60 minutes/6 turns (DC 13)

It even scales with tiers, Epic being DC 25, 30 and 35.

I know this kind of rules against failing forward (in a way) but then failing forward is a very 'new-school' story technique* and sometimes doesn't feel right in a certain type of game - after all OD&D teaches us that outright failure can and should happen, and you shouldn't like it either.

Also before i forget, don't suck the narrative out of it. Im not going to use this as a rule that doesn't require explaining. I guess you should come up with someway to let the players know how their time and effort is impacting the task at hand.

I'm going test this over the next couple of weeks - i'm sure my players wont even notice, but at least if I make them aware of the rules - it may impact the way they explore the dungeon. Hopefully that will be fun.

As always glad to hear your comments

- Happy gaming

*I know its not really a new-school technique, i'm sure there are tonnes of games that have been around for ages that either use failing forward or story mechanics to propel the game forward - i'm really using new-school label to act as a distinction between the gygaxian and the more modern approach to handling failure. 

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