After Next Core

I know last time I said I was going to go into some resource management systems, but I realized that in order to do that, I need to lay down the ground rules of how the basics of the game work. Don’t worry, they’re coming. But first, the core mechanics of D&D After Next:

Like all d20 games, AN will primarily use a d20 + modifiers to resolve actions. I’m going with the standard 6 Abilities, with their modifiers as-is. The three familiar saving throws are joined by a fourth, Perception, which keys off of Wisdom. I’m still debating if these will be rolled every time or be a static 10+ Ability mod defense value. Both of these approaches have their advantages; rolled saves make it more interesting for the PCs and helps them feel like they have ownership over their fate, while static defenses help speed things up and make things easier for the DM. My first instinct is to go with the latter, but I’m starting to fear that I haven’t given players much reason to pay any attention on other’s turns, and this is one thing that will keep them engaged throughout the combat. I’ll keep stewing on that one. Feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Going one step further into new territory, Healing Surges will be renamed Stamina, and be equal to your Constitution score for now. These are not recovered after a night’s rest and serve as a long-term, strategic-level resource (you might recover 1 per night’s rest, I’m thinking). As in 4e, expending Stamina allows you to heal outside of combat, trigger a second wind, and also powers certain abilities. One ability is to expend Stamina to replace a natural d20 roll’s result with the relevant Ability score value*. So if you roll a 4 on your Stealth check, you can spend one point of Stamina to replace that nat 4 with your Dexterity score, likely 10 or more. I’m still not sure if using this ability will trigger, say, a critical hit on an attack roll. If you have an opinion on this, leave a comment. This mechanic helps to mitigate the effects of using the d20 as an RNG: You can get lucky and roll high, but if you find yourself on the other end of that probability distribution, you can spend a Stamina to do better when faced with a situation that’s too dire for failure.

After Next will use a version of the popular Vitality/Wounds variant rule. Instead of having HP, characters and monsters have Vitality Points and Wound Points. Vitality Points represent your ability to avoid the worst of a blow, as well as shake off minor bumps and scratches, while Wound Points represent your tolerance of more serious injuries. Vitality is easier both to lose and to recover than Wounds. Normal attacks only deal Vitality damage; only crits deal Wound damage. When a character runs out of Vitality, they pass out but are not in danger of bleeding out unless they have less than half of their Wound points remaining. Any damage they take like that is dealt in Wounds. A full night’s rest completely restores your Vitality, but only 1 Wound (possibly 2 or more with a successful Healing check). Right now Vitality is calculated by class (max + 1 HD at level 1) + CON mod, while Wounds are equal to your CON score.

OK, now the larger steps away. I’m going to break AC into Defense and Armor. Defense is the static number that represents your ability to parry, weave away from, or otherwise stop or avoid your opponent’s blows. Armor, on the other hand, is what helps absorb some of the blows that hit and protect you from hits that connect solidly, aka critical hits.

Here’s what I mean; Defense is equal to 10 + Base Attack Bonus + Dex modifier + Shield bonus. The BAB is added to represent a skilled fighter’s ability to parry or otherwise use his weapon to protect himself. Also, it means that a fighting-type’s defense scales along with its offense, something missing in previous editions. When your attack roll overcomes your target’s Defense, you deal a static amount of damage based on your weapon, + STR modifier. If you roll much higher than your target’s Defense, you can increase your damage. Medium and Heavy Armors typically soak some of this damage. If you roll a successful crit, your target makes an Armor check; d20 + Armor bonus + Fortitude, against a DC set by your weapon. If they fail the Armor check, then you roll your weapon’s crit die (d4, d6, d8, d10, or d12), and add your STR modifier; this is how many Wound points the target loses. Again, their Armor’s soak applies (unless they fail their Armor check by a lot).

This is the core chassis that this game will be running on, combined with the ideas talked about last time (Areas, static initiative, active defense, simultaneous action, etc.). Very soon I’ll be able to put up the resource management systems I’m fiddling with, which will begin to shed some light on what different classes will look like. Leave a comment if you have any suggestions or see any glaring issues with the above.

*If this proves to be too limited in use, or too easy to abuse, I can just make it a re-roll, take the better result. I guess I could just add 10 for a point of Stamina, but I’m trying to avoid temporary arithmetic modifiers as much as I can.