Saturday, March 14, 2015

A roll-low saves system for DCC

I started a couple roll-low initiatives in DCC a few months back. One was to have players do ability checks instead of "skill checks". They just have to roll at or under their ability score on a d20 to do the thing they want. Have a more difficult challenge, or an untrained (0-level job-wise) PC? roll a d24 or d30 instead. I've abandoned this one recently because, quite frankly, I want some things to be near impossible. For instance, breaking through a porticulis in the module Silent Nightfall. I saw the DC 35, but the players went through it like paper. Rubbed me the wrong way, but I think it's still a valid resolution mechanic. However, I've abandoned it for now.

But the other roll-low thing is one I'm going to keep for a while yet. I think it's working. Saves. In normal DCC, saves are pretty much your standard 3.x DnD saves. Roll to beat a DC. Only, the highest you can roll with this system under normal circumstances is 29 (max stats at level ten with a good save), and that can be a problem when you are trying to resist a wizard spell that rolls higher. Some would say wizards that roll high deserve to auto-win against their targets. Valid point, but not one I'm happy with at this time in my development as a judge.


 So here is how roll-low works:

The judge says roll an x save, where x is one of the three (REF, FORT, WILL). The player looks at their number for that save (which may-well be negative if you are low level with low stats). They add that number to 10 and roll a d20. Rolling at or under that sum on the d20 means you made the save.

If the danger is particularly pernicious (say the wizard rolled a 42 to hex you or a dragon is being a scary dragon flaming you), the judge can ask you to roll a bigger die instead. Maybe even percentile dice.

I find this system has a certain charm as being like a reverse of old school DnD rules as I understand them. In some older editions, you have save numbers that you have to roll over to save (flavored depending on the threat). As you level up, the saves get easier, until you only have to roll a 4 or better to save against most things. The save names are different and simplified these days, but they mirror the old ones quite well when using the new saves system detailed above.

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