Friday, February 12, 2010

Should We Have Depesperate Efforts?

When prepping for my Play-by-Post Anglo-Saxon game a year or so ago, I wrote up a little thing of Spellcraft & Swordplay house-rules for the game.  As loyal, imaginary readers already know, I'm a rules-fiddler (see any of my twelve hundred posts on the Weapons vs. Armour Class chart). As that game has gotten to an R&R stage (return from the dungeon), I have been, unsurprisingly, adding to the house-rules.  But I haven't updated the web-site yet, only done so in my head.  As I went to the site to begin the update (including incorporating my brand-new Weapons vs. AC Chart from Under the Dying Sun, as well as new stuff like replacing the Wizard/Cleric magic split with a Natural/Demonic magic split), I noticed a rule that I had half-forgotten, since none of the players has ever used it: Heroic Effort.

With this rule, a character may alter the results of certain class-appropriate rolls to grant himself a better result. To do so, he uses up some of his vitality and luck i.e. Hit Points. Points can be sacrificed to raise the dice result on a one-for-one basis plus an additional 1d6-1. This means that Heroic Effort is an uncertain action. Lower levels characters are unlikely to use it much since it could easily kill them (although they may do just that for an heroic death scene). But that is fitting, since low-level characters are not great heroes. Not yet.  Characters can only use Heroic Effort to affect certain class-appropriate rolls:

  • Warriors: Combat Rolls (both To Hit and Damage), Strength- and Constitution-based Saves.
  • Wizards: Casting rolls (including dispelling), Intelligence- and Charisma-based Saves.
  • Champions: To Hit rolls, Casting rolls, Wisdom- and Charisma-based Saves.
  • Thieves: Thief Abilities, Dexterity- and Intelligence-based Saves.

Now, I'm wondering if some version of that would be a good addition to Dying Sun.   As the title of this posts suggests, I think I would rename it Desperate Effort or something along those lines, but the idea would be pretty much the same.

Good idea, bad idea, or ugly idea?


  1. This is just me and I don't know if you view Dying Sun in this way but,...

    Such heroic, player power to decide when they succeed, doesn't fit the genre. It should be gritty, deadly, desperate, and death/failure should be a real and constant danger. Not something player can bypass with an "expenditure".

    In my mind Dying Sun type worlds don't have hero's. Just people who've done what they had to in order to survive.

  2. I think it totally fits

  3. Well, that's a mandate from the masses. :)

    Without deciding one way or the other, I do have to say that I don't think Deperate Effort would be quite the same as the now-ubiqitous Hero Points. Mainly, because it does an unknown amount of Hit Point damage. It's only likely to be used in two situations that I can think of:

    1. To totally wipe up the floor with mooks when the PC is of decent level (i.e. has HP's to spare) or

    2. To try and save your skin when the PC is in trouble (low on HP's).

    The 1st seems appropriately S&S; the 2nd is a deperate gamble that might result in death.

    But I'm still undecided.