Hitting Harder, Casting Faster

I’ve made some tweaks to the Immergleich rules.

Evening out the speed of combat

Despite considerable design efforts on my part [1], melee with comparably-strong opponents tends to take longer as PCs go up in level. High-end single monsters, in particular, take time to grind down. That’s tedious.

Complication — my previous previous changes have left high-end monsters already very vulnerable to big-hit special attacks (e.g. the Thief’s backstab ability, or the Magic Missile spell). So I can’t just further reduce their hp. I could reign those attacks in a bit, or I could increase PC damage more subtly. I have done the latter:

  • Fighters get +1 damage per hit at 3rd level, rising to +2 at 5th.
  • Thieves and Clerics get +1 base attack bonus at 4th level

A side effect of the above is that the Fighter’s minimum damage goes up, reducing the number of “I hit… oh” experiences, and their maximum damage goes up, making giving them the occassional “no-one else could hit like that” experience.  LotFP (and possibly the Mentzer it’s based on — I can’t remember) is unusual in this regard — almost everyone makes the same damage roll most of the time.

Were I starting again with the rules, and abandoning LotFP altogether, I’d have average damage-per-round (or equivalent) scale with level by default. That would be the core I’d work from when designing the combat mechanics. I think that Numenera does this well, although I’ve not done any analysis (and it’s hard to eyeball because of the PC-NPC asymmetry).

There are loose ends here (e.g. don’t Thieves and Clerics get enough progression as they level already, given their abilities and spells?). But given the time I’m willing to spend on design work right now, this will have to do.

Strengthening novice Magicians

A first-level Magician is a sorry creature, basically nude (because they bought a wizard’s staff instead of armour) and with 1.167 weak spells per day (fraction because of aforementioned staff’s chance to save a spell slot). This came up in the recent feedback survey. This phenomena is a staple of old-school D&D, but I see no rationale for it [2].

So, changes:

  • Magicians now get one extra first-level spell slot per day above that shown on their per-day table.

I’m not sure this is sufficient, particularly as most other classes just got a boost (see previous section), but it’s what I’m going to try for now.

[1] I’ve made a mighty spreadsheet, and so considerably rebalanced PC hp by level and monster attack, damage, AC and hp by CR. The one thing it previously (“AUG-17 …” sheet) didn’t change is PC damage, because there’s no obvious way to do that without adding add least one extra number and calculation step. But here I have accepted that we must pay that cost. The rules above are in the “OCT-17 …” sheet.

[2] Traditionally, this is compensated for by the “quadratic wizard” progression. But that’s (a) not really possible in Immergleich (the level cap is 6) and (b) a really dumb design choice.

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