Roll to Confirm

New House Rules
February 18, 2014, 1:50 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This is a crosspost from my online campaign, which is currently on hiatus:


I’m always considering ways to make gaming, and especially online play-by-post gaming, easier. During our hiatus I’ve had a couple of ideas that I think would make our work here easier and give us more time to do what we came here to do: play!


1. Initiative by side. I’m becoming disenfranchised with the granularity of initiative. It’s quite obvious to me that requiring every player to roll initiative increases the “time count” of our play exponentially but if I thought it helped the game in any way, I’d still be loathe to remove it. However, I’m beginning to be of the opinion that requiring individual initiative increases the granularity of combat in a negative way. That is, having everyone go on their individual turn actually makes it seem like combat is flowing more slowly than I think the narrative supports. I see combat happening all at once. Every round takes 6-10 seconds, but the thief is stabbing at the same time as the ranger is shooting his crossbow at the same time the minotaur is swinging his cudgel at the fighter.


Therefore I propose this change: each side in the conflict makes an initiative roll at the beginning of every combat round and each side goes in that order. If a player character wishes to defer, they will take their turn at the end of the round. Under most circumstances the roll for the party will be done by the character initiating combat or the character who is in the lead, using the best judgement of the Dungeon Master.


This has the added benefit of allowing the player characters a better chance to plan their tactics as a group without removing the verisimilitude of “the fray,” combat being a chaotic sort of affair.


2. Simplified Ranges. The fact of the matter is that Pathfinder, even my simplified Pathfinder rules, may not be the best candidate for an online game. The amount of “crunchy” rules makes for difficult situations when the game we’re playing is inherently more unsure than one played at a table. There will always be the danger of a disconnect between player and DM expectations, but that danger is amplified by the distance, and the time it takes for a single turn, in an online game. Mapping helps alleviate some of this disconnect, but the lack of reliable technology that allows player characters to move their own pieces on a real board limits the benefit. In most cases I think I’d prefer to spend my time writing up descriptions and running combat than updating a map once a round.


Therefore I propose this change: during combat, ranges will be simplified in such a way that positioning can be done clearly but without the benefit of a map. The ranges will be defined as Melee, Near, Far and Distant. Under ordinary circumstances, it will take a single move action to go from Melee to Near, from Near to Far and vice versa. Distant range will require a character to spend his entire turn from Far, as he must run to get to a Distant range. The dungeon master will do his best to adjudicate movement to the benefit of the player.


Thrown weapons are effective at Near ranges, ordinary weapons are effective at Near and Far ranges and longbows and crossbows are effective at Distant ranges.


The ranges break down as follows:




Weapon Examples



Dagger, Spear, Blowgun



Javelin, Sling, Shortbow



Longbow, Crossbow





3. Supplies. Book-keeping is embraced by some and reviled by others. At the table, a player might jot a few notes down on his character sheet and move on, trusting that the information will be there when he needs it. In an online enviornment where a single combat may take weeks in real time, that becomes a problem. I have, in the past, stated some rulings about food being taken on journeys. I want to strive to codify that in a way that allows the efficient management of food, ammunition and lodging. For this I am looking for suggestions. My current thinking is that food and drink for journeys be made a requirement, but available to be bought in “parcels” that reduces the book keeping of listing bread, cheese and mead on a character sheet. For ammunition, I’m also considering a “parcel” system that requires a roll after every combat to see if you’ve used up your ammo in that parcel. For lodging, I’d like to use a tiered system where you can choose to pay for basic or luxurious lodging and have some mechanical benefit for choosing the better lodging.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Love the initiative idea. It also gives people the freedom to play when they have time, not just when it’s their turn and then they have time.

As for the range idea, it definitely simplifies it, but I think it causes some problems are Melee range. Melee range for a dagger and Melee range for a lucerne hammer are not the same. You may need to ranges to deal with Melee range and reach range. (I like the further three increments however).

For supplies, I am a fan of pay a reasonable amount for sundries when in one town and purchase x number of days of rations & supplies. Leave town, and you start using those supplies. If at x-5 days you realize you need to start rationing food, you can eat half rations and make it last longer, perhaps at slight penalty.

As for accommodations, I think a better tiered accommodation would make you better rested, enough to give you a bounce in your step, allowing a bonus on x number of rolls per day. You set a standard, anything above is a bonus, and anything below is a penalty. Maybe it’s a charisma thing because your more cheerful when rested, etc. just my 2c.

Love your gaming musings, you should think on paper more often 😉


Comment by Fik

Yeah, I considered the 5 ft vs 10 ft weapons. If nothing else, I’ll try breaking it down into Close Melee and Reach Melee. If I recall correctly, no one in the party uses a reach weapon right now so I hope we can try the ranges system out and then refine it if/when we need it. Big monsters are obviously the other problem since many of them take up the entire Melee range increment themselves.

Pie posted on the campaign blog and echoed your sentiments (as I read them) about supplies. That being, it works the way it is dummy, move on 😉

That’s the plan with accomodations. I’ll admit “well-rested” from WoW and Skyrim was the influence. The bonus will mostly likely be +1 to a hit or something. Charisma may be baked into the highest luxury because you got your clothes laundered and took a bath. I also wanted to give players more options and a mechanical benefit from not just sleeping on the ground.

Comment by S4M

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