So I got to play Organized D&D this weekend for the second time ever– the first was the Dark Sun Game Day a couple weeks ago. I had to drive over 2 hours in both cases; I’m currently in Texarkana, TX and absolutely nothing happens here.
An interesting thing happened on Saturday. In addition to me having a great time at Lone Star Comics in Dallas, I ran into a House rule I really, REALLY like, and will talk about another that I use in my home 4E game that helps quite a lot.
Anti-Suck Rule #1: TIE GOES TO THE PLAYER
- Definition: When a roll of any kind is a tie, the player receives the benefit of that roll. If an attack roll ties a character’s defense, the attack misses. Likewise, for a player’s attack hitting a monster’s defense. Yes, I totally grok that it effectively gives the PCs a +1 to all defenses. But seeing it in play, the number of Moments of Awesome it induced in the game totally overbalances any mathematical game effects it might have. I have always–as long as I can remember roleplaying, and that goes back 20 years now– GM’d with the rule “tie goes to the attacker”. It seemed fair. PCs attack 50% of the time, right? So that should mean that 50% of the time the PCs get the benefit of a ruling, and 50% of the time the monsters do. Well, Dear Reader, it’s not. As soon as I changed the rule (the weekend of the Dark Sun Gameday was when I saw it used and promptly yinked it for my own game), I realized how much more the PCs get attacked as opposed to how much they do the attacking. That means that for 20 years my PCs have been on the losing end of a ruling by me. Makes me feel kinda crappy about it, but I can’t do anything about it except move on with a better policy. In seeing the “Tie Goes To The Player” ruling in effect, I won’t go back. and as validation, not that I need any, I cite the 4E saving throw rules: a saving throw succeeds on a roll of 10 or above, effectively giving a PC a 55% chance of success, not a true 50%. This is a core rule of the game, and it is obviously character-favoring, as they will be making drastically more saving throws than a monster will. So there. Neener neener.
Anti-Suck Rule #2: SPEND A HEALING SURGE TO REGAIN A SPENT DAILY POWER ON A MISS
- Definition: If a character uses a Non-Reliable Daily power and misses all applicable enemies, he may spend a Healing Surge to regain use of that power. The action is still spent, and the action still counts as an attack for any applicable target powers, but the character does not lose the power. Daily Powers with an Effect on a miss cost 2 surges to regain, and also have no effect. If a character uses this rule, they may not spend an Action Point in the same round. Missing with a Daily power just blows. They are the Big Guns, the totally cool, “Eff You I’m Awesome“, defining powers for a character. And rolling to hit with one and missing is just awful, really. I’ve personally seen it take a group of players from standing up around a table invested and cheering into a downward spiral of suck that just…well, SUCKED… the fun out of the moment. I thought about this for a long time and I realized that is because the kick in the nads is doubled up– not only did you waste your standard action for the round, you also lost a precious resource that you’re not gonna get back any time soon unless you punk out and call for a rest like a 1st level 1E Wizard. So I came up with a simple rule to soften the blow while still letting it have game impact. It has had a powerful effect on the level of action my games had in them. It’s a kind of safety net that players know they have to ensure they’re not totally screwed. And as the adventuring day goes longer and longer in 4E, it becomes a truly tactical decision. Try it– your players might just start adventuring longer and harder. Mine did, and the game was increased in Awesome for it.