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Homebrewed Sagas Rules

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    So, I’ve been running a Sagas-based My Little Pony campaign for a few months now. Overall, I quite like the system so far, but I’ve decided to embrace the open nature of Sagas and have developed a few homebrewed rules that make the game better fit my preferred style. I finally got around to writing down these rules in detail for my players, and I figured I’d share that write up with all of you. Most, but not all, of these rules require at least basic knowledge of how to play Sagas. Please keep in mind that the rest of this post was originally written for my players directly, so it may come off as slightly confusing to an outsider. I will try to edit out any direct references to events in my campaign. Please let me know what you think, as all of these rules are still being balanced, most haven’t even been tested in game yet. Enjoy!

    The wealth attribute uses a dice roll in place of collected money for purchasing items and other uses for money. Wealth functions the same as other attributes; it has a value, a level, and a corresponding dice size. A character’s starting wealth value is the character’s charisma level + 9, and the level and dice are calculated as normal. This results in a nice, intuitive balance for starting wealth. For example, characters with an extremely low charisma of 1 or 2 will start with only d8 wealth, reflecting the character’s inability to get work or good deals due to their poor social skills, while characters with a mid-high charisma of 3-5 start with a d10 wealth, their good social graces giving them an easier time getting paid well and negotiating good prices, and characters with the max initial charisma of 6 start with a d12 wealth, due to their astonishing charm and natural beauty making money flow easily. Initial money for purchasing starting gear and weapons still uses the money calculations in the book, for easier balance.

    Players roll wealth whenever they make a notable exchange of money. You do not need to roll wealth for basic exchanges such as purchasing basic supplies or staying at a simple inn, unless otherwise stated by your GM. Players roll wealth checks like any other roll: they roll their wealth die + their skill level (if they have an appropriate skill). For example, buying a new weapon would be Wealth + Trading, and bribing a guard would be Wealth + Persuasion (Bribe). The target number (TN) of the roll is determined by the relative expensiveness of the item being purchased or the amount of gold needed for the task. I am still balancing the wealth TN’s, so I have no specific calculation to determine this currently, but they are based on the difficulty charts that Sagas is built around. (See Game Master’s Lodestar for details on the difficulty charts)

    Players level up their wealth value anytime they have a significant change in their available income. For example, this could be from getting paid well for a job, looting treasure from enemies, or being granted lands and a title by a monarch. It is possible to lose points of wealth also, by being robbed, having lands and titles revoked, or even by failing extremely difficult wealth checks. This last rule is included for balancing, so that players will not attempt ridiculously difficult wealth checks in the hope that they crit the roll and barely succeed, as doing so will instead typically result in permanently losing wealth, discouraging such actions. This is rationalized in universe by the character calling in favors and pooling together resources only to get ripped off on the deal or by failing to make the deal but losing money paying to set the deal up. I know it doesn’t make a ton of intuitive sense in this game, but it’s for balance and probably won’t come up much.

    If a player is attempting a roll they desperately want to succeed at, they may spend 10 unspent xp to re-roll their dice as if they had crit on the die, adding the new result to the total. You treat this re-roll as if you had crit on the die, so you only apply your skill once to the total result, you may re-roll again if the new result is a crit, and this counts toward your 3 re-roll crit limit. This may only be done once per skill check and is done after a player fails a roll, but before they know how much they failed by. For example, Star Hunter attempts to dodge an attack, but only rolls a 3 + defense (dodge), for a total dodge of 6. He fails to dodge, but does not know how high his opponent’s attack roll was. He decides to spend 10 xp and re-rolls his d10 reaction and gets a critical 10, allowing him to re-roll a second time for free. He gets a 6 for a grand total of 3+10+6+ defense (dodge) for a total of 21! This is quite lucky, as his opponent also criticaled with an 18, so he would have failed had he not also gotten a critical on his roll. Bonus Re-rolling may not be done on a damage roll or wealth check unless another effect explicitly states otherwise.

    I am accepting suggestions for a better name for this mechanic, as “Bonus Re-roll” isn’t catchy and unique enough for my tastes. I may increase the xp cost for re-rolling, but I doubt it will be necessary.

    I don’t like how Sagas normally handles hp and wounds, as players tend to be a bit fragile and you can’t really get wounds without also nearly dying. A player’s base hp is now 2x their toughness value, instead of the old toughness value + 5. Your wound threshold is now 1/4 your current hp + 1, rounded up, instead of 1/2 + 1. This will make characters much more likely to survive multiple hits, but so will your enemies.The high chance of gaining wound penalties will mean players can gain wound penalties during a fight and still have enough hp to keep fighting safely, and should make it more likely that you could gain multiple wound penalties but still survive the fight.

    This is a very radical change to the base combat mechanics of the game, and may result in a number of minor issues. For one, everyone having high hp means that enemies will take longer to kill, resulting in longer fights. But this also means it is far less likely for someone to be killed in just 1 critical hit. I like this effect, as it makes pure luck less of a factor during fights, encouraging smart tactics and good combat skills. Another issue is damage reduction balancing. I won’t know for sure until we play test the new hp system more, but the balance for PR & AC vs cost & penalties of armor is intended for the normal low hp system. As a result, we may find that the average cost armors that most of the characters use give enough protection that they would only be threatened by extremely high damage enemies.

    NOTE: This will probably not be a serious problem, as I can learn to tweak the reduction and damage of enemies to compensate for this for both PC’s and NPC’s. I only mention this so that every player is aware of what may need balancing, so we can all work together to make it all work. I just ask that each player let me know if enemies seems too easy or too hard to kill with average hits, and how much of their total hp they actually lose on average when hit. In other words, I would like players and average enemies to die in roughly 3-5 hits. I believe that this rough scale will keep fights from dragging on while still putting players in danger.

    I don’t want to kill your characters, and you don’t want them to die, as we both like them a lot and don’t want to waste time making new characters. As a result, I tend to make fights a little easier, so character don’t die. The issue with this is, then fights are almost never tense for players. If your character is never in danger of losing a fight, then fights tend to just be players slaughtering enemies effortlessly. I find that boring in the long run, and I don’t want my games to be like that, but I still don’t want you to lose your characters. Annoying issue, no?

    To fix this, I am working to develop different rules for 0 hp besides just death. Your character may still die, but something else will probably happen first. The problem is, I’m not sure how to make this work, but here’s what I have so far: if you hit 0 hp during a fight, you gain wounds as per usual and are now out of the fight, and a Complication happens to you to keep you out of the fight. This Complication could range from your character simply losing consciousness, to your attacker holding you hostage, to just death in extreme cases. The issue I’m having is coming up with a wide variety of possible complications that could occur to keep things interesting, as well as coming up with a good way to determine the severity of the complication. My current rough scale of complications follows:

    1) The minimum complication is being too weak to stand and keep fighting or completely losing consciousness. All following complications include this effect as well, as you can never fight at 0 hp.

    2) A severe but treatable wound, like a broken bone or severe concussion. The character would need several days or weeks of rest (or extremely potent magic) to heal from this wound, but should suffer no permanent effects. In extreme cases, this injury could result in a permanent, but purely ascetic loss, like losing a claw or part of a ear, in addition to an extended recovery time.

    3) A minor, but permanently crippling injury. For example, a wound that doesn’t heal right, resulting in a permanent wound penalty that cannot be removed, a limp that impedes running and other movement, or the loss of an eye or ear penalizing perception checks.

    4) A major, permanent crippling. This is a loss so extreme that is severely impacts your everyday life. For example, losing an entire limb, going blind, deaf, or mute, or even breaking your unicorn horn in half.

    5) Death.

    This is just my first draft for this scale, but I think it covers a good range. I’m still deciding on exactly how you determine which level you end up at when you hit 0 hp, but I want to base it on both success levels and your toughness level. Success levels determine what bonus you get for rolling far higher than the required result, and are determined by a scale given in the GM Lodestar. For example, if you deal 12 damage to an opponent, and their wound threshold is 8, you deal a wound, but, since you dealt 4 damage above their wound threshold, you reach the first success level and deal 2 wounds instead of just one. I was thinking of using the same scale to determine Complication levels. 0 hp and no success levels is unconscious, one success is a treatable wound, etc. In addition, all further damage received after the initial blow raises the complication scale using the same system, only now you can’t defend yourself at all. After all, it’s pretty easy to kill someone in their sleep. I have one important question for all the players on this: do you want the success levels for complications to be the same for everyone, or have it be based on the character’s toughness level? I expect everyone will vote for toughness level, since it almost definitely improves your chances of survival, but I thought low-toughness players may find this unfair. If i used the toughness system, then you would need to take your toughness level in damage into negative hp to gain a complication level. I expect this will result in players almost never hitting beyond level 2 complications in the same hit that brings them to zero. However, one follow up attack on lower toughness could result in death, though high toughness character may be able to take multiple hits even when unconscious.

    The only thing missing from this scale is non-injury complications, which I think could be very fun. Such a complication would happen in the place of the normal complication, and would have an effect on the battle beyond just your injured character. For example, your body could roll down a steep hill or drop out of the sky, requiring an ally to spend their turn catching you before you are hurt more severely. Or, an enemy could grab your unconscious form and hold you hostage, turning the lethal fight into a tense negotiation and possibly resulting in you getting kidnapped by the escaping enemies. I would love more suggestions for non-injury complications and any ideas for determining when they can occur. Some are obvious and contextual, like a flying character dropping out of the sky, but others are far more nebulous, like the hostage taking.


    P.S. I can make a separate post about my MLP campaign setting if anyone’s interested. It’s set ~30 years after the show and I have heavily modified and expanded the world to make it more diverse as well as darker and more medieval. I even have a detailed map for a whole new continent that the griffins are from. If anyone’s actually interested I’ll write up a basic summary of the world and it’s history.

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