Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The Ten Foot Polemic Unified House Rule Document - 2017 Update

Jesus, it's been a year and a half since my last house rule update!
It's actually not changed that much since, they're in a really nice place and I'm pretty comfy using them now.
The only real changes involve switching up a few things that were a bit too fiddly to use consistently (like weapon breakage), adding excuses for stuff we were sort of doing anyway (like spell swapping), and adding the new subsystems I've added since (like poison).

Also in the time since I published the updated house rule doc it looks like people have uploaded it on a bunch of mirrors?!
I'll count that as a success.

My house rule page has been updated and the house rule document along with it.

New one here

Change log because that worked well last time:

Char Gen:

  • New! Added Religion, albeit the actual options are in a separate Religious Pamphlet which I just realised I still need to upload. Opens up Clerical options and makes religion more of a thing. Also, Cleric spell grid is a good at-a-glance guide to the different sects' attitudes towards one another.

Retroactive Backstory:

Combat Options:

  • Minor tweak - the defensive actions (spears vs enemies closing in, take cover, parry) can be declared in reaction to an attack by giving up your next action.
  • If you Aim you count as surprised. Tunnel vision's a real thing, I've got the paintball welts to prove it.
  • Removed Fighters/Elves/etc getting special combat manouevres. Gambits are more fun, and my Elves and Dwarves have weirder powers now.
  • Disengage and Opportunity Attacks swiped from 5th ed. Elegant solution to the stop-people-getting-through-the-front-lines problem without needing a grid. Opportunity attacks stop people from moving further if they hit, naturally.
  • Parry changed, I thiiiink these parry rules are from Delving Deeper. +4 to AC across the board, but with additional effects based on weapon size. Heavier weapons have a chance to disarm, lighter weapons have a chance to riposte.
    Obliquely favours high dexterity characters because they get an AC bonus, gives another layer of choice to size of weapon to those interested.
    Pretty cool. But needless to say, these extra effects only work on enemies with weapons.
  • Take Cover put down as an action rather than a passive thing, because I like the idea of diving into cover in response to gunfire.
    Plus it reminds people "oh yea I get an AC bonus from cover" which I often forget myself and means that firing at someone behind cover keeps their head down. Suppressing fire, yo.

Ranged Weapons:

  • Quietly shelved the Fighter firearm reload bonus. Nobody reloads in combat anyway.
  • Instead, successful Sleight of Hand halves reload time. Four round reload time if you've got good Dex and Sleight of Hand! Guns seem more of a Specialist weapon anyway.

Fall Damage:

  • Gygaxian original 1d6/10ft/10ft makes falls quickly deadly. Added a 10ft discount if it's a prepared fall, by way of compensation for this new deadly reality.
    Unwritten, but each 10ft counts as a separate attack for the purposes of Shields Shall Be Splintered and other damage-mitigation purposes like armour breakage. One time a guy jumped off a cliff and landed on his shield to survive like Captain America which was awesome but clearly absurd.

Death and Dismemberment:

  • Bleed now deals 1 damage per die at the end of the round, rather than simply increasing. This mostly because I always forgot to increase, and also because Bleed dice felt the least dangerous in play because you're not affected if nobody's hitting you.
    There's a special Bleed damage table here, which only makes sense as an addition to Courtney's table here. You'll notice most of the results end up with more Bleed, preserving the idea behind the previous bleed-builds-over-time mechanic.
    Conveniently this change ties in neatly to...
  • New Poison rules! Deadly over time without instant death, and allows me to give Ghouls stun poison and Spiders death poison and have it all be part of the same general system.
  • As stated in the Poison post, Delay Poison now makes you immune to the effects of poison for 24 hours. Hopefully you will have saved away all the poison by then. Neutralise Poison neutralises all poison dice.

Wear and Tear

  • Change to weapon notches - each notch reduces the damage of a weapon by one die size. This represents it getting battered and blunted and damaged over time. The more damaged the weapon, the less effective it is.
    This also mirrors armour which gives you -1 AC per notch.
    It's hard to get players to remember something that fucks them over if it's rarely engaged with, so this is an easy "oh no your sword's damaged in an obvious way because you're doing less damage" fix.
  • Willingly break your weapon to roll its original un-notched damage die. Your shitty rusty longsword gets a last 1d8 hurrah before bursting into fragments.
    Putting the choice to break a weapon in the hands of the players means they've got some more agency over it, and also means I don't have to think about it.
    Again, mirrors armour where it's the player's choice to actually break it. In that case breaking your armour reduces damage from an attack to 1. In both cases it's more worthwhile to break something that's heavily damaged and thus otherwise a bit useless.
  • Firearms use the England Upturn'd firearm mishap table in England Upturn'd when they take a notch. Because it's great. Replaces regular fumble table.

Class Tweaks

  • Clerics have 5 religious variants to choose from, each with a unique spell that acts differently depending on the religion of the target. Religion pamphlet here.
  • Spell swapping across all casting classes! Shock! Horror! Clerics had this already so other casters were not-so-subtly just casting whatever they wanted with their spell slots.
    I was going to yank 5e's spell slot system until I realised this is a good opportunity to use a favourite Last Gasp table I'd never been able to use before.
    Encourages bringing spellbooks into dungeons, penalises not thinking ahead, means the more situational or ridiculous spells like Speak With Dad are actually used.
    • Magic Users, Elves, Muscle Wizards - roll on the Cast the Bones table with a penalty equal to the sum of the spell levels being swapped.
      So swapping a level 1 spell for a level 1 spell is a -2 penalty.
      Swapping a level 5 spell for a level 2 spell is a -7 penalty.
      Sacrifice HP for a +1 bonus per point, because you're draining your own energy. I'd allow this even at 0HP and have it roll over to Death and Dismemberment.
    • Necromancers simply deal damage to themselves and everyone around them when swapping spells, equal to the sum of the spell levels being swapped.
      Swapping a level 1 spell for a level 1 spell is 2 damage.
      Swapping a level 5 spell for a level 2 spell is 7 damage.
      Heals undead though and damages all around, so I can see this being used tactically.
      Also rolls over onto Death and Dismemberment, likely the Cold Damage table.
  • New! Ratman class for the ability score impaired. Can't have any positive ability score modifiers, beloved of rats, actually surprisingly powerful at higher levels. 36 obedient rats at a time is nothing to sniff at!

Rune Magic

  • All direct damage glyphs do 1d6 damage, modified by vulnerability/resistance. Beams previously did 2d6, but it was complicated and also too good.
  • New scatter mechanic for firing beams from hands and shields and stuff - if you miss, roll the Warhammer Scatter Die (pictured below). A target means you miss safely and it just scorches up a wall or whatever. An arrow means it fires in that direction, hitting the first thing in its way.
    Using an Aim action beforehand means missed beams only ever miss safely.
    In-world explanation is that powering a glyph involves a brief moment of unconsciousness as your VERY SOUL is redirected to power it, which means accuracy is an issue with beams.

Turns out that was a longer list of tweaks than I thought!


  1. Ha! Love the shield story. That's hilarious.

  2. My favorites (i.e., most likely to be ripped off and used by me) are the 'correct' falling damage, retroactive backstory, Funerals, and Retirement. I also like the Melee Weapon types and Rune Magic (to use in a WHFRP-style Dwarf Runepriest(ess). Really excellent stuff in there!

    1. Glad to hear it, man! Seeing people use this stuff out "in the wild" really does make it all feel worthwhile!