My players love them some arts & crafts, when I give them little map pieces to put together they all get a little bit more giddy and conspiratorial (like with Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine or STEAL THE EYES OF YASHOGGHUH! which they are playing through right now).
But we were playing a week or so ago and they were divvying out stolen jewellery and codpieces and swapping equipment with each other before descending beneath a swamp and all I could think was “godddd I wish they could just pull things off their sheets and hand them to each other instead of all this erasing/re-writing bullshit”.
And then I realised why not? WHY NOT?? Why am I using ratty lined tables that are continually being scrawled over like an ambitionless mouthbreather? WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY. WE HAVE BLUE-TAC.
So I whipped these up before our next game, with a page of the character sheet devoted to worn equipment, and a separate backpack (drawn by Rose forever ago) for the rest:
And suddenly they were actually paying attention to what they were carrying and moving things around and watching how close they were to being over-encumbered and I DIDN’T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING TO PROMPT IT.
Really they’ve never understood encumbrance rules properly but make it a bit more tangible and suddenly everything becomes clear and actually a bit fun what?
So hell yes, this is my encumbrance/inventory system now, it makes things so much easier to track, gives heaps of extra room for little details/rules/sweet illustrations, and also means I can do fun things like physically take things away from people when they get stolen or dropped or turned into spiders.
I feel dumb that it never occurred to me before.
Jeff Russell was lamenting about not being able to do this in online games and I ran off at the mouth about using Pinterest for it, which is actually a super good idea.
If everyone playing makes a Pinterest board containing a pinned picture for each piece of their equipment and then shares it with the other people playing, they can then move items around/be given stuff/drop stuff/whatever.
- Want to give another player an item? Share the pin with them then delete it from your board.
- Want to write down rules or little notes for that magic item you just got? You can type a message on the pin.
- Are you the DM and you’ve got a bunch of items hidden away in this room? Collect a pin that fits each of them before the game then share them with your players as they find them.
- Pinterest is more relevant to D&D than I even realised.
Here’s the new character sheet, click here and it’ll take you to a folder with separate files for the character sheet, the item cards, the backpacks, and the satchels and pouches (print everything except the item cards double-sided, they’re sized for A4 printing on machines that add a 5mm margin):
The dice are on there because I bought Emma the most metal set I could find and she now carries them around in her purse but she doesn’t know which one to grab to make Malatesta cut someone in half.
My encumbrance rules have changed a little to go with this so they now work like this:
- Items you’re wearing can be grabbed and used at-will (they’re the ones that get stuck to your character sheet).
- You have 5 slots for items you’re holding or simply want to protect better; these can’t be damaged or dropped unless you roll a natural 1 when defending in contested melee. If that happens roll a d10 to see which item is affected and check Breakage.
When you’re actually holding any of these items in your hands move them to the 2 slots on the front of the sheet (but that doesn’t free up the ones you moved them from).
[INTERLUDE: Breakage is just new wording for Quality from the Notches rules, it just made more sense on the whole, and now EVERYTHING has a Breakage value. Most Breakage values are between 1-5, and everything other than a weapon will use a d8 for its check (weapons use their damage die); if you roll the Breakage value or less, it breaks, otherwise it’s fine unless you roll the maximum value of the dice in which case you drop it. Weapons and armour take a Notch instead of breaking.
Most items will have a Breakage chance of 3, non-intricate metal items would be 1 or 2, vanity mirrors and oil flasks would be 5.]
- You have 5 slots for loose items, each taking up two numbers from 2-11.
- You have 5 slots specifically for armour and nothing else, numbered 12-16. Medium armour takes up 2 slots, heavy armour takes up 3.
I’ve started ruling that additional pieces of armour like helmets or gauntlets or Sabatons of Shame don’t increase AC, but you can sacrifice them to make an attack against you re-roll its damage (so if a successful attack against you just rolled 8 damage and you know that’s high enough to cut off a limb you can say “oh shit I headbutt the blade” and destroy your helmet and hope like hell the damage roll is lower this time).
If you run out of armour slots and want to wear more pieces they can go in loose items.
- When a successful attack roll against you matches the number of a filled loose item or armour slot (with contested melee a successful attack roll can be quite low), check Breakage for the item.
- You can buy satchels or pouches to hold multiple items on a loose or held item slot. That means you can carry more shit and protect more things on those lower numbers, but if the pouch gets hit and fails its Breakage check everything falls out and you need to check Breakage for all of them.
Satchels can carry 4 items, Small Pouches can carry 2, and some items (like the fabulous wig that Rose’s drag queen specialist Muffin McTavish is currently sporting) can store extra items inside themselves already.
- You can carry as many small insignificant items in one slot as you can write on the item card.
- When you’re wearing equipment the only items that stack are money (300 coins or small gems), ammunition (20 arrows/bolts/shot balls, 10 sling bullets), and small things like iron spikes or powder apostles (5 each). Every oil flask takes up a slot.
When it’s in your backpack you can stack smaller things like oil flasks up to 3 per slot.
My other encumbrance rules work pretty much the same as before but with some different conditions that apply to encumbrance levels (Movement Dice explained below):
- If you’re only carrying worn equipment your Movement Dice is d8, and you can roll twice and take the best for physical checks like climbing or jumping out of the way of giant rolling balls of gore.
- When wearing a backpack you can carry a number of Dead Weight items up to your Strength or Constitution score, whichever is higher.
Your Movement Dice is now d6, you roll once for physical checks, but can discard your backpack to re-roll (so if you’re hanging above a pit full of angry fishrats and fail your climbing check, you can shrug off your backpack and hope really hard that you don’t fail the re-roll and fall after it).
- You can carry more than that up to a total of your Strength + Constitution and be Overweight.
Your Movement Dice is now d4, you have to roll twice and take the worst for physical checks, but can discard your backpack to re-roll.
- If you carry any more than that you’re Morbidly Encumbered, which is the same as being Overweight except that you have to roll twice and take the worst for ALL physical rolls including attacks and movement checks.
Rolled for chases or when contested speed is otherwise an issue (like when you and the cultist look each other in the eyes and dash towards the slime-spewing altar).
- Whoever rolls highest wins. In a one-on-one situation I’d rule that if your Movement Dice is the same but you’re wearing less armour than your opponent you can add your Dexterity modifier.
- In a chase use the lowest Movement Dice of the group unless you bail on each other; on a lost roll decrease your dice size, on a win increase your dice size, and the chase ends when someone loses on a d4 or wins on a d20.
- During a chase any ranged attacks suffer a penalty equal to your opponent’s Movement Dice.
- If you’re being chased and your opponent rolls a 1 on any dice you can try to do something to lose them (so in a city something like jumping onto a roof or into an alley or a random doorway or spilling a cart in front of them), and if you win the next check it works and the chase is over.
If you’re chasing and your opponent rolls a 1 on any dice you can try to do something to stop them (like yelling at Old Bob who’s always standing in front of the Bloated Cuttlefish to grab them), and if you win the next check it works and the chase is over.
The lowest Movement Dice of the group can also be used for random encounter checks, because if you’re Overweight you’re shuffling and jangling around like an idiot, as opposed to the guy padding around with nothing but a sack and a knife like an agile agile cat.
When crossing an area is difficult/dangerous/time is of the essence (like a room full of angry sludge crabs or something), you could also set the room a total movement number that the group has to reach before they cross it, and every Movement Dice roll takes a Round (so the Morbidly Encumbered idiot on a d4 Movement Dice is probably going to get nipped by a lot more crabs than the previously mentioned sack and knife guy on a d8 Movement Dice).
I haven’t tested that but it seems sound in theory?
And then hey that feeds in nicely to..
- After strenuous activity roll your current Movement Dice.
On a 1, drop to the next encumbrance level until you rest for a Turn.
- When removing your pack roll your current Movement Dice.
On a 1, remain on the same encumbrance level until you rest for a Turn.
So after scaling a 50′ wall carrying Dead Weight there’s a chance you’re going to feel Overweight until you’ve had a little rest, and if you’ve been waddling around Morbidly Encumbered all “it’s okay if a monster shows up I’ll just drop my bag”, there’s a chance that when you drop it you’re not going to feel any more refreshed and suddenly regret your life decisions.
Apart from that there’s a bunch of other rules changes/tweaks on there so..
Rather than keeping each weapon type with its own special rules I changed it to weapon tags so they can get stuck all around.
- ADAPT: if you miss an attack, you can use a Parry to try again. [mostly swords, Parries are normally used to re-roll a failed defence, which you can do a number of times equal to your Fast AB bonus (Dexterity modifier + AB) per combat]
- TRAUMA: +2 to-hit vs. Medium or Heavy armour, successful hit reduces Heavy armour by 1. [mostly maces and hammers]
- FLESHRIPPER: two damage dice vs. Light armour or less. [mostly axes]
- REACH: automatically attack first and do double damage against Bum Rushes. [spears and polearms]
- HEFTY: roll twice for damage and take the best while wielding with two hands. [mostly melee weapons that do d8 or more damage]
- LASH: ignore shields, can choose to attack weapon, disarming on 4 or more damage. On any miss roll under your AC or hit yourself. [mostly flails and whips]
- SHANK: can make contested d20 + Hard or Fast AB to grapple after hit, automatically hitting Flesh in subsequent rounds until they kick you off. [mostly knives]
- ARMOUR PIERCING: reduces AC to 12 + Dex modifier. [firearms]
- HORRENDOUS: keep re-rolling odd damage dice. [trying this out for arquebus/rifles to give a reason for giving up 2 slots to lug one around instead of a pistol]
- BURST: anyone in range has to roll equal to or less than their DB (Dexterity modifier + armour bonuses) on a d12 or take damage.
Off-sheet I’ve been playing around with ranged weapons a bit to give them more obvious benefits/trade-offs.
- LONGBOW: takes up 2 slots, d6 damage + Strength modifier. [Uses Hard AB (Strength modifier + AB), all other ranged weapons use Fast AB (Dexterity modifier + AB)]
- SHORT BOW: d6 damage.
- SLING: 2d4 damage.
- LIGHT CROSSBOW: d6 damage, 1 Round to load, uses Trauma tag.
- HEAVY CROSSBOW: takes up 2 slots, d10 damage, 2 Rounds to load, uses Trauma tag.
- PISTOL: d8 damage, can’t reload under pressure, uses Armour Piercing tag.
- ARQUEBUS/RIFLE: takes up 2 slots, d8 damage, can’t reload under pressure, uses Armour Piercing and Horrendous tags.
- BLUNDERBUSS: d6 damage, uses Burst tag.
When you get hit by a ranged weapon it bypasses Grit and goes straight to Flesh (the hit points where you really get hurt), so shields should be kind of a big deal.
Small shields give +2AC, large shields give +4AC but unless you’re a Fighter you can’t pair one with a melee weapon unless your Strength is at least twice as much as the weapon’s damage.
(Contested melee means that even with an extra +4 defence you’re far from unhittable.)
Using a shield is like dual-wielding weapons, so each Round choose between the AC bonus, or making an extra d4 damage bash attack.
If you make an extra attack split your AB between the two.
(Two attacks while dual-wielding usually incurs a penalty equal to the lower damage of the two weapons, but not with shields.)
300 coins or small gems can be carried in an encumbrance slot (large gems count for 30).
Other than that you can give money to the Merchant Priests who are smugly present in every major city and sometimes in places you wouldn’t expect and always know how much credit you currently hold with them.
If you’re buying something and want to use your credit you can either find a Merchant Priest to oversee the transaction or leave a blood-sealed slip of paper with the shopkeep to cash in later.
Of course if you signed it for more than you’re worth the Merchant Priests will find you where you sleep and croon about ethics in the dark.
Buying/tracking rations exact to the day is boring and I am having none of it.
Instead of that I’m using Ration Dice – d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20.
[Similar to what I do for torches, inspired by the cascading dice ammunition rules by Intwischa (sadly no longer in existence, but the page is currently available via the Internet Archive)]
You can only have one of each and they’re purchased in increments from lowest to highest.
Each one takes up an encumbrance slot, and costs twice as much as its dice size in silver pieces.
THIS IS FOR THE WHOLE GROUP NO MATTER HOW MANY OF YOU THERE ARE.
Each day try to roll 4 or higher on your largest Ration Dice. If you fail, that Ration Dice is gone because you’re fat.
If you also have animals you have to roll 6 or higher.
By LotFP rules if a Specialist fails to pick a lock they can’t try again until they gain a level because they’re not good enough, which feels… dumb?
Specialists can now try as many times as they want, but after the first try, they have to check their tools for Breakage after every failure.
Inspired by Reynaldo’s BREAK!! updates, books now come with a rating 2-6, and can be used in place of your own skill rating to make checks to do with that subject if you’ve got the time.
(e.g. there’s this big pulsating sac thing in the corner and you’d like to know what it is but your Naturalis skill is only 1 in 6, however you’ve got this big Creepy Crawlies book with a 3 in 6 chance…)
Successful skill checks using books also count towards trying to increase skills when you level up (when you level up, if you’ve successfully used a skill try to roll under your number of successes on a number of d6 equal to your current skill level, if you succeed you gain another skill point).
Are GONE. That kind of consistent steady improvement just didn’t really jive with what my game is about.
Instead, everything is done with Ability checks now.
A normal check needs to roll equal or less than your score.
A hard check needs to roll equal or less than half your score.
If it’s something easy you wouldn’t be making a check.
Ability Scores in my game are pretty malleable, since they can be decreased by nasty stabbings, mushroom infections, turning into a drugfiend with opiate fluids… So when you level up you can try to increase a number of scores equal to the level you just reached.
Roll 3d6 and if it’s higher than your current score, increase it by 1.
I’ve also got this idea for gaining levels (because gold for xp has never tasted right to me) where to level up you need to tell AMAZING BUT TRUE STORIES about your exploits in major cities or places where you can make a name for yourself (number of stories equal to the level you’re trying to reach).
Which is a nice built-in incentive to seek out completely bizarre shit apart from just “there might be gold there”, as well as more social interaction/climbing.
I’ll probably do up rules for the chances of stories being accepted/appreciated in different places (town square, dive bar, high tea), along with potential consequences for those places (rabid admirers/rivals, being overheard by the relatives of people you’re bragging about stealing from/murdering, job offers, gaining more and more elaborate titles), which means leveling up also feeds into more game fodder and makes reminiscing about fun sessions an actual mechanic of the game itself.
Which I think is pretty great.
Wait where was I…
Oh yeah, having item cards and blue-tac for your inventory is excellent and you should try it.