20 Quick Questions: Rules

Jeff Rients has a great list of 20 quick questions to add campaign details in ways that are likely to affect actual play. I was thinking, based on this other post by Jeff about treating all editions of D&D as a toolbox and this post by JB over at B/X Blackrazor about creating his own version of D&D, that it would be useful to have a list of rules that often change from campaign to campaign.

Here are 20 rules clarifications that are likely to be needed anyways at some point.

  1. Ability scores generation method?
  2. How are death and dying handled?
  3. What about raising the dead?
  4. How are replacement PCs handled?
  5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else?
  6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work?
  7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet?
  8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?
  9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything?
  10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no?
  11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death?
  12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked?
  13. What’s required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time?
  14. What do I get experience for?
  15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination?
  16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work?
  17. How do I identify magic items?
  18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions?
  19. Can I create magic items? When and how?
  20. What about splitting the party?
If you decide this stuff early, you are less likely to have misunderstandings and more likely to all be on the same page.

Edit: index of some responses here.

36 thoughts on “20 Quick Questions: Rules

  1. ClawCarver

    Nice. Hmm… *rolls 1d20 and gets 11* Oh, that’s an easy one. Yes, abso-bloody-lutely. It happened the session before last. Pit viper bite.

    I’ll try and answer the other nineteen questions on my blog later.

    Reply
  2. Welleran

    Good set of questions!

    Ability scores generation method? 4d6, drop lowest,arrange as desired

    How are death and dying handled? Unconscious at 0, unconscious and dying from -1 to -(4+CN bonus), dead at -(4+CN Bonus)

    What about raising the dead? Yes, but prohibitively expensive

    How are replacement PCs handled? Make up some excuse on the fly for their rpesence

    Initiative: individual, group, or something else? Group, d10 (ties are simultaneous)

    Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work? Yes on 1 and 20 – I have a chart and roll it (~30% chance of somethign interesting happening but seldom anything to crazy)

    Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet? No and I need to come up with something!

    Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly? Yes

    Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything? Yes and often — feet don’t fail me now!

    Level-draining monsters: yes or no? Yes

    Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death? Yes

    How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked? Encumbrance somewhat, resources carefully

    What’s required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time? Level up during rest, new spells must be acquired the hard way (scrolls, or stealing a spell book)

    What do I get experience for? 3M’s (Money, Magic, and Monsters)

    How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination? Combination, usually a die roll made up on the fly if its not obvious

    Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work? Yes. Morale by common sense, knowledge of NPCs, and an occasional d6 to introduce some randomness

    How do I identify magic items? By use, spell, or paying for assistance

    Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions? Potions to a limited extent and occasionally something else here or there, but definitely no shops!

    Can I create magic items? When and how? Yes, but no one ever does

    What about splitting the party? Yes, if you’re feeling lucky

    Reply
    1. Welleran

      By “magic” I just meant magic items – the standard DMG awards for stuff. I’ve awarded bonuses for particularly impressive roleplaying or creative problem solving in the past, but these days I’m fairly by the book on XP.

      Reply
  3. The Bane

    Not currently running a game, but if I were, this is how I would answer:

    Ability scores generation method? 3d6 x7, assigned as you roll (after each roll, so if you want a fighter and put a 16 in STR and later roll an 18, too bad. Any roll (why I require 7 rolls), at any time, may be assigned to GPx10.

    How are death and dying handled? Some are buried, some burned, some mummified… Seriously though, once HPs = 0, damage goes straight to abilities, which is a bear to heal!

    What about raising the dead? On a litter, maybe lashed to a pole, or even a spire. Have considered only allowing name level characters this benefit. But mostly, dead is dead.

    How are replacement PCs handled? Either freshly rolled (1st level only) or you flesh out a hireling (obviously lower level than PCs as they get less XP), so treat ’em well and keep them alive, you may be one of them!

    Initiative: individual, group, or something else? Individual +Dex w/ Surprise

    Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work? Yes, crits on 20 minus your Attack Bonus, that go straight to targets Ability Score. Fumble on a 1, I get to be creative.

    Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet? Yes, I play with Death and Dismemberment (http://trollsmyth.blogspot.com/2008/06/playing-with-death-and-dismemberment.html) which happens with Ability Damage rolls.

    Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly? Sure, on a fumble, and Criticals can be rolled on them too.

    Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything? What is a fair fight (CL)? You had better beat feet if you think you might be out classed.

    Level-draining monsters: yes or no? Yes, but at this time, not sure how I would do it. Semi-permanent Ability Score loss perhaps?

    Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death? Yes.

    How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked? Not. If it sounds reasonable I let it go. If it doesn’t then I might do a quick tally.

    What’s required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Reflection. Sometimes. No.

    Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time? Yes, mid-adventure is feasible.

    What do I get experience for? Doing damage, survival (adventure completion), carousing, good role play.

    How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination? Combination? Description will find them alone, a secret DM die roll might too depending on what the PCs are doing, or not doing.

    Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work? Encouraged, and 2d6+CHA check.

    How do I identify magic items? Use, Spells, or investigation.

    Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions? No, and no. I run very low magic games. Even magical PC better keep their head down and their head cloaked.

    Can I create magic items? When and how? Yes, and when you figure out how or are taught. This is an adventure in and of itself in my book.

    What about splitting the party? Sure, as long as you realize it will slow the game down and cause you to run twice as fast in game.

    Fun questions!
    TB

    Reply
    1. Brendan

      Those are good additions. Reading all the responses, I would also clarify 4 and 17:

      4a. And at what level or experience total do replacement PCs begin?

      17a. And how are magic items differentiated from mundane items prior to identification?

      Reply
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