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Grim N Gritty Revised

GRIM-N-GRITTY COMBAT: REVISED AND SIMPLIFIED

by Kenneth S. Hood
Wiki formatting by genshou

FROM THE AUTHOR

In the year of our Lord, 2001, I created a set of variant rules known as The Grim-n-Gritty Hit Point and Combat Rules. The purpose of the rules: to create a more deadly, less cinematic atmosphere to d20 combat. To my surprise, the rules caught on with a large segment of the d20 community. Also to my surprise, the rules have lasted several years, even beyond my web site and my departure from the RPG community. The rules have gone so far as to be published under the Open Gaming License by Mongoose.

Now, the year is 2004. I have not played a pen-and-paper RPG game in over two years, since I first became a schoolteacher and moved to a rural area. Even so, my interest in the d20 system has continued. After several years of thought about streamlining the Grim-n-Gritty system and repairing a few “holes” in its structure (such as how it handles magic), I have come up with this revision.

My hope is that you will try these rules and let me know how they work for you. I think you will find them more intuitive than the previous Grim-n-Gritty rules-set, without losing its edginess and danger.

Many Thanks and Best Wishes in Your Gaming,

Ken Hood


FEATURES OF THE NEW SYSTEM

The revised Grim-n-Gritty system has five major features:

  • Characters use a Life Bar, instead of Hit Points to track damage.
  • Characters have a Soak attribute that modifies all damage inflicted upon them.
  • Characters oppose attack rolls using their Defense attribute.
  • Characters increase the damage of an attack by the amount they beat their targets’ defense rolls.
  • Critical hits do not increase damage, but apply special effects.

DESIGN EXPECTATIONS

These are the goals of this combat system.

  1. Characters have a greater potential for dying in combat.
  2. At low levels, against human-sized opponents, fights are not always lethal, though still unpredictable.
  3. At high levels or against monsters, fights are consistently lethal.
  4. Opponents of equal ability and equipment have a good chance of killing one another with a single blow.
  5. Area-effect attacks or high damage dice attacks should kill characters who are not under cover.
  6. Big creatures are much more powerful than little creatures.
  7. Armor greatly increases survivability.
  8. Cover helps more than armor.
  9. Sneaking and ambush help most of all.
  10. Overall, combat becomes more unpredictable.
  11. Overall, the system rewards clever planning.

OPEN GAME CONTENT

The following material is designated Open Game Content. Enjoy!

THE LIFE BAR

The center of the revised Grim-n-Gritty rules is the Life Bar.

Table 1: The Life Bar
LETHAL
DAMAGE
Lightly
Wounded

o o o o o
Moderately
Wounded

o o o o o
Severely
Wounded

o o o o o

Disabled
o o o o o

Dying
o o o o o
NON-LETHAL
DAMAGE
Not
Affected

o o o o o

Jolted
o o o o o

Jarred
o o o o o

Staggered
o o o o o
Unconscious

Every character uses the same Life Bar. For each point of lethal or non-lethal damage a character suffers in combat, you fill one pip of the Life Bar, starting from the right and going to the left.

For example, if you suffered seven points of lethal damage, your Life Bar would look like this:

Table 2: The Life Bar with 7 Points of Lethal Damage
LETHAL
DAMAGE
Lightly
Wounded

• • • • •
Moderately
Wounded

• • o o o
Severely
Wounded

o o o o o

Disabled
o o o o o

Dying
o o o o o
NON-LETHAL
DAMAGE
Not
Affected

o o o o o

Jolted
o o o o o

Jarred
o o o o o

Staggered
o o o o o
Unconscious

As your Life Bar’s pips fill, you acquire Wound Conditions. When the first pip in a Wound Column is filled, you gain that condition. For example, the character with the Life Bar in Table 2 suffers the Moderately Wounded condition.

Wound Conditions

The following is a description of the various Wound Conditions.
The effects of lethal and non-lethal damage are cumulative.

Lethal
Lightly Wounded: You have suffered some lethal damage, but are not impaired by it.
Moderately Wounded: You suffer a -1 penalty on all attack rolls, defense, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws.
Severely Wounded: You suffer a -2 penalty on all attack rolls, defense, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws.
Disabled: You suffer a -3 penalty on all attack rolls, defense, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws. You can only take a single move or standard action each turn (but not both, nor can you take full-round actions). You can take move actions without further injuring yourself, but if you perform any standard action (or any other strenuous action) you take 1 point of damage after the completing the act.
Dying: You suffer a -5 penalty on all attack rolls, defense, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws. You are unconscious. You can take no actions. You lose 1 lethal pip every round. This continues until you die or become stable.
Dead: Once you run out of pips in the Dying column and suffer any additional lethal damage, you are dead.

Non-Lethal
Not Affected: You are not impaired by non-lethal damage.
Jolted: You suffer a -1 penalty on all attack rolls, defense, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws.
Jarred: You suffer a -2 penalty on all attack rolls, defense, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws.
Staggered: You suffer a -3 penalty on all attack rolls, defense, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws. You can only take a single move or standard action each turn (but not both, nor can you take full-round actions).
Unconscious: Once you run out of pips in the Staggered column and suffer any additional non-lethal damage, you are unconscious.

SOAK

Soak is another major feature of the revised Grim-n-Gritty system.
Soak is a character’s ability to “soak up” damage from an attack. The higher a character’s Soak, the less damage he suffers from an attack.
A character’s Soak score is determined with the following formula:

Constitution modifier + Armor bonus + Natural Armor bonus + Size modifier

Constitution modifiers, armor bonuses, and natural armor bonuses are familiar to users of the d20 system and require no explanation. Use Table 3, below, to determine a character’s Soak modifier for size.

Table 3: Soak Modifiers for Size
SizeSoak
Fine-16
Diminutive-12
Tiny-8
Small-4
Medium+0
Large+4
Huge+8
Gargantuan+12
Colossal+16

For example, a Large monster with 18 Constitution and +4 natural armor, would have Soak 12. A human with 12 Constitution, wearing full plate mail (+8 armor bonus), would have Soak 9.
Toughness: The Toughness feat adds +1 Soak, rather than +3 hit points. In this system, you can acquire Toughness no more than three times.
Generic Damage Reduction: Characters with generic damage reduction (i.e., damage reduction that looks like #/- and cannot be overcome by special weapons) convert that damage reduction into Soak on a one-for-one basis. For example, a 13th level barbarian with Damage Reduction 3/- in the standard rules gains +3 Soak in the revised Grim-n-Gritty rules.

DEFENSE

As in the original Grim-n-Gritty rules, Defense replaces Armor Class as the mechanic by which a character avoids being hit in combat. Defense represents a character’s ability to roll with blows and dodge attacks.

Figuring Defense
Figure a character’s Defense bonus using the following formula:

Base Defense Bonus + Size Modifier + Shield Modifier + Other Modifiers

Your base defense bonus equals your base attack bonus + your Dexterity modifier or your total Reflex saving throw (including your Dexterity modifier), whichever is higher. (Note: Wearing armor may reduce your maximum Dexterity modifier.) Use table 4 to determine size modifiers to Defense. Use of a shield adds to your Defense, but may limit your maximum Dexterity bonus. Other bonuses to defense include deflection bonuses, dodge bonuses, and cover. (Basics: Any modifier in the standard combat system that affects AC, other than armor or natural armor bonuses, affects Defense in the revised Grim-n-Gritty system.)

Table 4: Defense Modifiers for Size
SizeDefense
Fine+8
Diminutive+4
Tiny+2
Small+1
Medium+0
Large-1
Huge-2
Gargantuan-4
Colossal-8

For example, an unarmored human with 15 Dexterity and a base attack bonus of +7 would have a Defense of +9.
Note: Enhancement bonuses to armor increase the armor’s Soak value, not your Defense.

RESOLVING ATTACKS

These are the rules for resolving attacks in the revised Grim-n-Gritty system.

The Attack Roll
An attack roll represents your attempt to strike your opponent on your turn in a round. When you make an attack roll, you roll a d20 and add your attack bonus. (Other modifiers may apply to this roll.) Your opponent rolls a d20 and adds his defense bonus. (Other modifiers may apply to your opponent’s roll.) If your result equals or exceeds your target’s defense roll, you hit and deal damage.
Automatic Misses and Hits: A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on an attack roll is always a miss. A natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20) is always a hit.
Critical Hits: In the revised Grim-n-Gritty system, critical hits do not occur when you roll a certain number on the d20. Instead, they happen when you roll a certain amount of points higher than your target (usually 10 points). See the section on Critical Hits, below, for a more detailed description.
Immobile and Helpless Targets: Immobilized or helpless targets automatically roll a 1 on the defense roll.
Touch Attacks: Touch attacks gain a +4 attack bonus. (Since the revised Grim-n-Gritty rules already ignore armor and natural armor for purposes of determining a hit, this was a necessary modification.)

The Damage Roll
When your attack succeeds, you deal damage.
You roll the damage dice of the attack. Apply modifiers for enhancement bonuses, Strength, and the like. For every point you beat your opponent’s defense roll, add +1 to the damage inflicted. Apply a Size modifier (per table 5) to damage inflicted by melee weapons, unarmed strikes, and the natural physical attack forms of creatures.

Table 5: Damage Modifiers for Size
SizeDamage
Fine-16
Diminutive-12
Tiny-8
Small-4
Medium+0
Large+4
Huge+8
Gargantuan+12
Colossal+16

Apply your target’s damage reduction or energy resistance (if applicable) to the attack’s damage.
Finally, subtract your target’s Soak from the damage.
If the result is positive, your target fills in one pip on the Life Bar for every point of damage inflicted. Otherwise, you cause no damage to your target. For example, if your attack inflicts 8 points of damage, your target fills in 8 pips on the Life Bar.

Maximum Damage Dice
In the revised Grim-n-Gritty system, because characters have so few life pips, there is a maximum cap to the base damage dice rolled for an attack: 4d. If your attack uses more than four dice, you convert the additional dice into a damage modifier, per table 6, below.

Table 6: Damage Dice Modifiers
Die SizeDamage Bonus per Die over 4d
d4 or less+1 per die
d6+2 per die
d8+3 per die
d10+4 per die
d12+5 per die
d20+6 per die

For example, in the standard rules, the breath of a red dragon at great wyrm age inflicts 24d10 damage. In the revised Grim-n-Gritty system, it causes 4d10+80 damage. (Best to seek cover!) A fireball that inflicts 8d6 in the standard rules causes 4d6+8 in the revised Grim-n-Gritty.

Sneak Attacks
In the revised Grim-n-Gritty system, convert each d6 of sneak attack damage into a flat +2 damage bonus.
For example, a rogue with a +8d6 sneak attack inflicts +16 damage with a sneak attack in this system. (An excellent way to penetrate high Soak scores!)

Critical Hits
If your attack roll beats your opponent’s roll by a certain amount, usually 10 or more points, you may inflict a critical hit. Critical hits let you inflict special conditions on your target (such as stunned or dazed), bypass bonuses to Soak, or disable body parts.

Determining Critical Threat Range
In the revised Grim-n-Gritty system, your critical threat range is the amount your attack roll has to exceed your opponent’s defense roll. If you reach this amount, you threaten a critical hit and roll to confirm it with a second attack v. defense roll. Use table 6 to determine a weapon’s Grim-n-Gritty threat range.

Table 7: Critical Threat Ranges
Original Threat RangeGrim-n-Gritty Threat Range
2010 or more
19-208 or more
18-206 or more
17-204 or more
16-202 or more
15-20A successful hit

For example, you wield a two-handed sword. In the original rules, you would threaten a critical hit if you rolled a natural 19 or 20. In the Grim-n-Gritty system, you would threaten a critical hit if you rolled 8 or more points higher than your opponent’s defense result.

Critical Hit Effects
Once you threaten a critical hit, you select an effect for the hit. Then, you roll attack v. defense to confirm it. (Some types of critical hits are more difficult to confirm than others and apply a penalty to the confirmation roll.) If you win the confirmation roll, your opponent performs a saving throw v. DC 10 + ˝ your base attack bonus + your Strength modifier (if a melee attack) or your Dexterity modifier (if a ranged attack) + any enhancement bonuses for your weapon + any critical hit effect bonuses for your weapon. If your opponent fails the save, he suffers the effect of the critical hit.
The critical hit effect bonus depends on the original system’s critical multiplier for a weapon. If a weapon has a x2 multiplier, it has a +0 critical hit effect bonus. A weapon with a x3 multiplier gains a +5 critical hit effect bonus. A weapon with x4, +10.
The effects of critical hits are as follows:

  • Blind Target: (-4 confirmation penalty.) Your target is blinded for 1d4+1 rounds if it fails a Fortitude save against your critical hit.
  • Bypass Heavy Armor: (-8 confirmation penalty.) If your target wears heavy armor, you ignore its armor bonus to Soak when determining the damage for your attack. Your target gets a Reflex save to avoid this effect.
  • Bypass Light Armor: If your target wears light armor, you ignore its armor bonus to Soak when determining the damage for your attack. Your target gets a Reflex save to avoid this effect.
  • Bypass Medium Armor: (-4 confirmation penalty.) If your target wears medium armor, you ignore its armor bonus to Soak when determining the damage for your attack. Your target gets a Reflex save to avoid this effect.
  • Bypass Natural Armor: (-8 confirmation penalty.) You strike a vulnerable point and ignore the target’s natural armor bonus to Soak when determining the damage for your attack. Your target gets a Reflex save to avoid this effect.
  • Bypass Size Modifier: (-4 confirmation penalty.) You strike a vulnerable point and ignore the target’s size modifier to Soak when determining the damage for your attack. Your target gets a Reflex save to avoid this effect.
  • Daze Target: Your target is dazed for one round if it fails a Fortitude save against your critical hit.
  • Deafen Target: (-4 confirmation penalty.) Your target is deafened for 1d4+1 rounds if it fails a Fortitude save against your critical hit.
  • Disable Arm: (-4 confirmation penalty.) If your target fails a Fortitude save, its arm is disabled. This causes a –2 penalty to attack rolls, Strength checks, and all skill checks based on arm use, such as Climb, Craft, Disable Device, Escape Artist, Forgery, Alchemy, Heal, Open Lock, Pick Pocket, Swim, and Use Rope checks. If all arms are disabled, the victim cannot manipulate items.
  • Disable Leg: (-4 confirmation penalty.) If your target fails a Fortitude save, its leg is disabled. This causes a –2 penalty to defense rolls, Reflex saves, Dexterity checks, and all skill checks based on leg use, such as Climb, Swim, Jump, Ride, Tumble, Balance, and Move Silently checks. The victim cannot run or charge. If all legs are disabled, the victim can only move by crawling and loses any Dexterity bonus to Defense.
  • Disable Head: (-8 confirmation penalty.) If your target fails a Fortitude save, it is stunned for one round, and its head is disabled. This causes a –2 penalty to all attack rolls, defense rolls, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws.
  • Stun Target: (-4 confirmation penalty.) Your target is stunned for one round if it fails a Fortitude save against your critical hit.

To cause any effect other than a “bypass,” your attack must inflict at least one point of damage to your target, after all damage reduction, energy resistance, Soak, and other forms of protection are applied.
A critical hit may cause only one effect.

HEALING AND RECOVERY

These rules describe how a character heals in the revised Grim-n-Gritty system.

Natural Healing
A character recovers one lost lethal life pip per day of rest if Lightly Wounded or Moderately Wounded. Otherwise, a character recovers one lost lethal life pip per week. Successful long-term care from a trained healer doubles the rate of recovery.
A character recovers one lost non-lethal life pip per minute of rest, even if unconscious.

Supernatural Healing
Healing spells have the following effects on a character in the revised Grim-n-Gritty system:

  • Cure Minor Wounds: Recover one lost life pip (both lethal and non-lethal).
  • Cure Light Wounds: Recover two lost life pips.
  • Cure Moderate Wounds: Recover 1d4+1 lost life pips.
  • Cure Serious Wounds: Recover 2d4+1 lost life pips.
  • Cure Critical Wounds: Recover 3d4+1 lost life pips.

Dying and Stabilization
On the next turn after a character reaches the Dying column on the Life Bar and on all subsequent turns, roll d% to see whether the dying character becomes stable. He has a 10% chance of becoming stable. If he does not, he suffers 1 point of damage. (A character that is unconscious or dying cannot use any special action that changes the initiative count on which his action occurs.)
Once a character fills in all the pips in the Dying column and suffers at least one more point of damage, he dies.
You can keep a dying character from losing any more pips and make him stable with a DC 15 Heal check.
If any sort of healing cures the dying character of even 1 point of damage, he stops losing hit points and becomes stable.
A stable character who has been tended by a healer or who has been magically healed eventually regains consciousness and recovers hit points naturally. If the character has no one to tend him, however, his life is still in danger, and he may yet slip away.
Recovering with Help: One hour after a tended, dying character becomes stable, roll d%. He has a 10% chance of becoming conscious, at which point he is disabled. (He automatically recovers all lost life pips in the Dying column.) If he remains unconscious, he has the same chance to revive and become disabled every hour. Even if unconscious, he recovers hit points naturally.
Recovering without Help: A character who becomes stable on his own (by making the 10% roll while dying) and who has no one to tend to him still loses life, just at a slower rate. He has a 10% chance each hour of becoming conscious and disabled. Each time he misses his hourly roll to become conscious, he suffers 1 point of damage.

Disabled Body Parts
One week is necessary to recover from a disabled body part. Successful long-term care from a trained healer causes recovery in 1d4+1 days.

APPENDIX 1: EXAMPLE OF COMBAT

Once upon a time, there were three adventurers: Fred the Fighter, Harold the Halfling Rogue, and Warren the Wizard.
They took counsel among themselves and said, “Lo, there are many holes in the ground. Within these holes, we often find lump sums of currency, mystic tomes, gemstones, and magical items, wherewith we may acquire goods and services upon exiting said holes. This treasure is oft protected by challenges commensurate to our ability. Said challenges, whilst sometimes difficult, do not pose threat that exceeds the worth of the reward. Shall we not go forth into these holes and acquire more riches?”
“Verily, we shall,” said they, and off they went.
So, they met an ogre, named Otis.

Pertinent Statistics

Fred the Fighter – 5th level
Attack: +10 (+5 base, +3 Strength, +1 masterwork, +1 weapon focus)
Defense: +8 (+5 base, +1 Dexterity, +2 heavy steel shield)
Soak: +10 (+2 Constitution, +8 full plate)
Damage: bastard sword, 1d10 + 5 (+3 strength, +2 specialization)

Harold the Halfling Rogue – 5th level
Attack: +9 (+4 base, +4 Dexterity (weapon finesse), +1 enhancement)
Defense: +11 (+5 base, +4 Dexterity, +1 buckler, +1 size)
Soak: +0 (+1 Constitution, +3 studded leather, -4 size)
Damage: short sword, 1d6 – 3 (+0 Str, +1 enhancement, -4 size)
Special: Sneak Attack +6

Warren the Wizard – 5th level
Attack: +2 (+2 base)
Defense: +4 (+2 base, +2 Dexterity)
Soak: +2 (+1 Constitution, +1 Bracers of Armor)
Damage: quarterstaff, 1d6

Otis the Ogre
Attack: +9 (+4 base, -1 size, +5 Strength, +1 weapon focus)
Defense: +2 (+4 base, -1 size, -1 Dexterity)
Soak: +16 (+3 Constitution, +4 size, +5 natural armor, +3 hide armor, +1 toughness)
Damage: greatclub, 2d8 + 9 (+5 Strength, +4 size)

Fred wins initiative and swings at Otis with his bastard sword.

  • Fred (attack): rolls 20
  • Otis (defense): rolls 9

Fred hits with an 11 point margin of success. He makes a critical hit and selects “Bypass Natural Armor.” He makes a confirmation roll: 15 (Fred) v. 16 (Otis). Fred fails the critical.
Fred rolls his damage: 1d10 + 5 + 11 (margin of success) = 20 points – 16 (Otis’ Soak) = 4. Otis suffers 4 points of damage. He loses 4 pips in the Lightly Wounded column.

Harold sneaks up behind Fred, flanks, and performs a sneak attack on Otis.

  • Harold (attack): rolls 18
  • Otis (defense): rolls 11

Harold hits with a 7 point margin of success. He does not make a critical hit.
Harold rolls his damage: 1d6 – 3 + 6 (sneak attack) + 7 (margin of success) = 16 points – 16 (Otis’ Soak) = no damage. Otis is not even scratched.

Otis attacks Fred, the real threat.

  • Otis (attack): 27
  • Fred (defense): 12

Otis hits with a 15 point margin of success. Otis gets a critical hit and selects “Bypass Heavy Armor.” He rolls to confirm. Otis gets 15, Fred rolls 12, and Otis confirms the critical. Otis ignores Fred’s Soak from the full plate armor!
Otis rolls damage: 2d8 + 9 + 15 (margin of success) = 32 points – 2 (Fred’s Soak without the armor) = 30 points of damage.
Fred loses all of his life pips.
With a resounding battle cry of “UGH!” followed by a moist splatter, Fred decorates the room in fleshtones and crimson.

Warren panics and casts fireball, thinking, “Well, Harold does have evasion and a good Reflex save….”
In the normal rules, Warren would roll 5d6 for his fireball. Under the Gn G? rules, he rolls 4d6 + 2 and inflicts 18 points of damage. Otis’ Soak absorbs 16 points, so Otis suffers only 2 points of damage. This fills in two more pips and brings him to Moderately Wounded. He suffers a -1 penalty on most rolls.
Harold does make his saving throw, but he’s not too happy about the fireball.

Harold curses Warren. Though Harold no longer flanking Otis and loses the sneak attack, Harold attacks again.

  • Harold (attack): 21
  • Otis (defense): 6

Harold hits with a 15 point margin of success. It threatens a critical hit and selects, “Bypass Natural Armor.” Harold rolls to confirm and gets a 16, while Otis rolls 12. Otis is forced to make a Reflex save against DC 13. Bad luck for Harold! Otis rolls 19.
Go, ogre!

Uh, I mean, poor Harold!
Harold rolls his damage: 1d6 – 3 + 15 (margin of success) = 17 – 16 (Otis’ soak) = an astounding ONE POINT OF DAMAGE! Otis loses fills in another pip in the Moderately Wounded column.
Go, halfling thief!

Otis beats Harold like a drum.
A squishy, screaming, fluid-filled, bone-supported drum.

  • Otis (attack): 28
  • Harold (defense): 21

Otis wins by a margin of 7. Not enough for a critical hit, but plenty to ruin Harold’s day.
Otis rolls damage: 2d8 + 9 + 7 (margin of success) = 24 – 0 (Harold’s soak) = 24 points of damage.
Good news! Harold isn’t dead!
He’s just dying!
Yee-haw!

Shortly after soiling himself and wondering if CR 3 still means the same thing in the Gn G system, Warren tries an acid arrow against Otis.

  • Warren (+4 for ranged touch attack): 24
  • Otis (defense): 14

Warren hits with a 10 point margin of success. He threatens a critical hit! He selects “Bypass Natural Armor” and rolls to confirm: Warren gets 18. Otis gets 4. Warren confirms the hit and ignores the Soak from Otis’ natural armor.
Warren rolls for damage: 2d4 + 10 = 15 – 11 (Otis’ Soak without Natural Armor) = 4 points of damage. Otis loses 4 more life pips. Now, he’s Severely Wounded (-2 on most rolls).
And angry!

Otis charges Warren!
Lucky Warren! He gets to make an attack of opportunity against the charging Otis. Screaming like a girl-child, he swings his staff.

  • Warren (attack): 17
  • Otis (defense): 12

Warren hits with a 5 point margin of success. Not a critical hit!
Warren rolls damage: 1d6 + 5 (margin of success) = 8 – 16 (Otis’ Soak) = NO DAMAGE!
Yeah!

Otis completes his charge.
Otis (charge, attack): 20
Warren (defense): 9
Otis gets an 11 point margin of success. He threatens a critical hit and selects, “Disable Head.” With a -8 penalty, Otis rolls to confirm. He gets a 13. Warren rolls a 12. Warren makes a Fortitude save against DC 17 and fails with a 6. Warren is stunned for one round and his head disabled (-2 on all rolls).
Otis rolls his damage: 2d8 + 9 + 11 (margin of success) = 35 – 2 (Warren’s Soak) = 33 points of damage. Warren dies instantly.
Good news! He doesn’t have to deal with a disabled head!
Bad news! He doesn’t have to deal with a head at all!

APPENDIX 2: MORE EXAMPLES

About the Dice Cap
The dice cap makes the difference between your character ending up dead from dragon's breath and ending up dead from dragon's breath.
(You read that last sentence correctly.)
At the lower ends of the damage spectrum, the dice cap allows you to make the difference between being disabled by a fireball and suffering serious injury from a fireball. For example, a 6d6 fireball becomes 4d6+4. Average damage 18. Unarmored human with 10 Constitution fails save. Splat! Disabled. Same person makes save. Splat! Seriously wounded. Screams a lot.
That is about how a fireball should work in "real life" (tm).
Switch to a 10d6 fireball. In revised Gn G, it becomes 4d6+12. Average damage 26. Unarmored human with 10 Constitution fails save. Splat! Dead! Same person makes save. Splat! Seriously wounded. Screams a lot more.
Boppo the Barbarian with 18 Constitution (+4 Soak), +4 armor, and Damage Reduction 2/- (+2 Soak) has a total Soak of 10. He gets hit by the 10d6 fireball. Average damage 26. Boppo fails save. Suffers 26 - 10 = 16 points of damage. He's disabled. Boppo makes save. Suffers 13 - 10 = 3 points of damage. Lightly wounded. Singed and angry. Run, wizard, run!
Boppo gets hit by great wyrm red dragon. Red dragon normally inflicts 24d10, average 132. In revised Gn G, inflicts 4d10+80 damage, average 102. (Hey! Ken is sneaky. Adding flat damage modifiers significantly increases survivability at lower end of dice spectrum, but does not do jack squat at higher end. Whatta jerk!) Boppo fails save against red dragon breath. Suffers 102 - 10 = 92 damage. Incinerated. Boppo makes save against red dragon breath. Suffers 51 - 10 = 41 damage. Incinerated.
Bye, bye, Boppo.
Should Boppo have not been incinerated? No, no. Boppo should be incinerated when thrown in the equivalent of a furnace. This is, after all, the Grim-n-Gritty rules. Why is this dummy fighting a dragon?!
Against area effect attacks with a lot of dice, your character should grab heavy cover—the kind that affords Improved Evasion when you are under it. That is how "real folks" would deal with dragon breath. They do not stand around and take it. They run away and hide.

About Critical Effects and Figuring Weapon DC’s
For example, a 10th level fighter with 17 Strength and a +2 pick has a Critical Effect DC as follows:

  • Base: 10
  • Main modifier: +5 (10/2)
  • Ability Score: +3 (Strength modifier)
  • Other modifiers: +2 enhancement bonus, +10 for the pick's x4 multiplier
  • Total DC: 30 (Picks do good criticals!)

You might be saying, "Well, heck, I'll always use a pick!"
Think about this: If the same character used a +1 keen rapier (critical threat: 18-20 [3 points] doubled to 15-20 [6 points]), he would threaten a critical hit with every successful attack. His DC would be different, though.

  • Base: 10
  • Main modifier: +5 (10/2)
  • Ability Score: +3 (Strength modifier)
  • Other modifiers: +1 enhancement bonus, +0 for the x2 multiplier
  • Total DC: 19

Creating the "critical effects" mechanic allowed me to do some of the same stuff as the penetration mechanic in the old system (i.e., get past all that protection), but opens up options for using a wide variety of weapons, rather than just running around with a pick.
Finally, linking armor penetration to critical hits creates some unique situations with undead, constructs, and oozes. They are immune to critical hits. Now, they're a heck of a thing to kill, but I don't have to create special rules for dealing with their unique physiologies.

OPEN GAME LICENSE VERSION 1.0A

The following text is the property of Wizards of the Coast, Inc. and is Copyright 2000 Wizards of the Coast, Inc ("Wizards"). All Rights Reserved.

  1. Definitions: (a)"Contributors" means the copyright and/or trademark owners who have contributed Open Game Content; (b)"Derivative Material" means copyrighted material including derivative works and translations (including into other computer languages), potation, modification, correction, addition, extension, upgrade, improvement, compilation, abridgment or other form in which an existing work may be recast, transformed or adapted; (c) "Distribute" means to reproduce, license, rent, lease, sell, broadcast, publicly display, transmit or otherwise distribute; (d)"Open Game Content" means the game mechanic and includes the methods, procedures, processes and routines to the extent such content does not embody the Product Identity and is an enhancement over the prior art and any additional content clearly identified as Open Game Content by the Contributor, and means any work covered by this License, including translations and derivative works under copyright law, but specifically excludes Product Identity. (e) "Product Identity" means product and product line names, logos and identifying marks including trade dress; artifacts; creatures characters; stories, storylines, plots, thematic elements, dialogue, incidents, language, artwork, symbols, designs, depictions, likenesses, formats, poses, concepts, themes and graphic, photographic and other visual or audio representations; names and descriptions of characters, spells, enchantments, personalities, teams, personas, likenesses and special abilities; places, locations, environments, creatures, equipment, magical or supernatural abilities or effects, logos, symbols, or graphic designs; and any other trademark or registered trademark clearly identified as Product identity by the owner of the Product Identity, and which specifically excludes the Open Game Content; (f) "Trademark" means the logos, names, mark, sign, motto, designs that are used by a Contributor to identify itself or its products or the associated products contributed to the Open Game License by the Contributor (g) "Use", "Used" or "Using" means to use, Distribute, copy, edit, format, modify, translate and otherwise create Derivative Material of Open Game Content. (h) "You" or "Your" means the licensee in terms of this agreement.
  2. The License: This License applies to any Open Game Content that contains a notice indicating that the Open Game Content may only be Used under and in terms of this License. You must affix such a notice to any Open Game Content that you Use. No terms may be added to or subtracted from this License except as described by the License itself. No other terms or conditions may be applied to any Open Game Content distributed using this License.
  3. Offer and Acceptance: By Using the Open Game Content You indicate Your acceptance of the terms of this License.
  4. Grant and Consideration: In consideration for agreeing to use this License, the Contributors grant You a perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive license with the exact terms of this License to Use, the Open Game Content.
  5. Representation of Authority to Contribute: If You are contributing original material as Open Game Content, You represent that Your Contributions are Your original creation and/or You have sufficient rights to grant the rights conveyed by this License.
  6. Notice of License Copyright: You must update the COPYRIGHT NOTICE portion of this License to include the exact text of the COPYRIGHT NOTICE of any Open Game Content You are copying, modifying or distributing, and You must add the title, the copyright date, and the copyright holder's name to the COPYRIGHT NOTICE of any original Open Game Content you Distribute.
  7. Use of Product Identity: You agree not to Use any Product Identity, including as an indication as to compatibility, except as expressly licensed in another, independent Agreement with the owner of each element of that Product Identity. You agree not to indicate compatibility or co-adaptability with any Trademark or Registered Trademark in conjunction with a work containing Open Game Content except as expressly licensed in another, independent Agreement with the owner of such Trademark or Registered Trademark. The use of any Product Identity in Open Game Content does not constitute a challenge to the ownership of that Product Identity. The owner of any Product Identity used in Open Game Content shall retain all rights, title and interest in and to that Product Identity.
  8. Identification: If you distribute Open Game Content You must clearly indicate which portions of the work that you are distributing are Open Game Content.
  9. Updating the License: Wizards or its designated Agents may publish updated versions of this License. You may use any authorized version of this License to copy, modify and distribute any Open Game Content originally distributed under any version of this License.
  10. Copy of this License: You MUST include a copy of this License with every copy of the Open Game Content You Distribute.
  11. Use of Contributor Credits: You may not market or advertise the Open Game Content using the name of any Contributor unless You have written permission from the Contributor to do so.
  12. Inability to Comply: If it is impossible for You to comply with any of the terms of this License with respect to some or all of the Open Game Content due to statute, judicial order, or governmental regulation then You may not Use any Open Game Material so affected.
  13. Termination: This License will terminate automatically if You fail to comply with all terms herein and fail to cure such breach within 30 days of becoming aware of the breach. All sublicenses shall survive the termination of this License.
  14. Reformation: If any provision of this License is held to be unenforceable, such provision shall be reformed only to the extent necessary to make it enforceable.
  15. COPYRIGHT NOTICE

Open Game License v 1.0 Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
System Reference Document Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
Grim-n-Gritty Hit Point and Combat Rules, Copyright 2001, Kenneth S. Hood
Grim-n-Gritty Combat: Revised and Simplified, Copyright 2004, Kenneth S. Hood.

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Page last modified on January 25, 2010, at 07:30 PM