Tag Archives: house rules

Random Encounter Checks

So, random encounters.  I’ve been following discussion over at the something awful forums on the new edition of D&D, and one of the thoughts that occurs to me is the lack of adapting what are really some classic, needed rules if one is to play old school D&D.

Random encounters are one of these rules.  Now, rolling up a monster is easy, everyone and their mother has written up a random table to roll on to see what creatures the PCs encounter.

What I have seen less of, however, is how often to roll on these tables.  So I’m going to share how I decide to do so.

First off, frequency of random encounter rolls mean that there is a possibility of a random encounter, so one must first roll to see if the PCs even encounter anything.  I keep it simple; I roll a d6, and on a 1, there is a random encounter.

Frequency of rolls? Well, that’s another entirely more complicated matter.  Because it depends on the situation.  As a guideline, I usually break it down as follows:  Wilderness Areas, I roll once every eight hours.  Small urban/town areas, I roll once every twelve hours.  In large urban/town areas, I roll once every six hours, and in dungeons, I roll once every hour.

Now, circumstances can change the frequencies of these rolls.  Recently, for example, my PCs have been in a swamp that is being fought over, so random encounter rolls were made, on average, every four hours. Dungeon frequency rolls are based on the assumption that the PCs presence is unknown, so once it is discovered they are there, the frequency of random encounter checks will increase, and even this will vary depending upon how much the monsters know is going on.  If it is a large complex, and some materials are just found awry, it might only decrease to once every half hour, whereas if the PCs leave a chamber full of bloody corpses, it might well decrease to once every ten minutes, or once every five, as the entire complex is mobilized.


Siege Weapons

Remember that battle scene at the beginning of Gladiator?  When the Romans let loose with their catapults, rock throws, ballistae and scorpions and absolutely shredded the forest the Germanic Army was hanging out in?  Yeah, that was pretty awesome.


So where are my rules for siege weapons in 3.xx?  There aren’t really any that I’ve seen.  So I’m throwing out some of my thoughts on how to run them in my quest to solidify a set of rules, so that my PCs can stop harraugning me about getting weapons mounted on their ship….but I digress.

Weapon Proficiencies 

I was thinking of divided siege weapons into two general categories, ballistae and other direct LOS weapons, and arching weapons that can go over obstacles.  Call them Catapults and Ballistae, I suppose.  I think they would fit best as Martial Weapons; any soldier worth his salt should have at least as much familiarity with these as pretty much any other common medieval weapon.

I had an idea, that the RoF for these weapons, since they are generally manned by a crew, is to make the RoF dependent on Passing Profession(Artillerist) or Profession(Siege Engineer)checks.  More complicated weapons would require more checks.  So, for instance, a scorpion might only require two checks, whereas a trebuchet might require more like ten.  Each crewman can only do one check per turn, and each weapon would have a maximum number of crew, since above a certain number they would just get in each others’ way.  I think this would work well to cover the whole “you can still fire with less people, you just fire slower”.

Once the crew has made the needed number of skill checks, then whoever in the crew is assigned as the aimer makes an attack roll as if it were a normal missile attack. Ballistae and other LoS weapons, being basically larger versions of crossbows, would be targeted against single targets and do a massive amount of damage on a hit.

I can see the arching weapons basically using the thrown weapons table; they can target a specific piece of terrain at AC 10, normal penalties apply.  I don’t really see catapults and the like being accurate enough to target a single person; you chunk at a large group of people and hope the wide area of effect of your attack gets them.

Example Weapons

Weapon                                 Damage                  Type            Range             Skill Checks            Maximum Crew

Scorpion                                2d8                            P                200 ft                     2                                2

Rock Thrower                        1d8/10 ft radius        B               250 ft                     4                                4


Debating whether allowing more crew than is needed to fire the weapon in a round, to allow some weapons to have multiple shots in a round?

Anywhoo, just some initial thoughts.

Magic Item Creation Rules

Pretty much all my posts so far have been fluff.  This one is homebrewed rules for my campaign.

I’m not sure how to feel about D&D 3.x.  They did some good stuff overhauling from 1st and 2nd Ed, but then they messed up a whole bunch more.  I’ll go more in depth some other time.  For now, here is my idea for my house rules for making magic items.  This is only my second time DMing 3.x, and I’m kinda leery about moving around too many pieces.  I’d welcome everyone’s thoughts on what they think. 🙂

Magic Item Creation Feats are not necessarily tied to being able to cast a certain spell level; instead, it is tied to having ranks in the appropriate Craft skill.  Levels are still the same, so if a Magic Item Creation Feat requires a third-level caster, it would instead require six ranks in the skill.

Magic spells still need to be cost, either the crafter can cast the spell if they are a caster, or they can find a caster to cast it for them, they can cast it from a scroll of other magic item, ect.  Any inherent XP costs to making the item may be split between the spellcaster and the item crafter, in whatever amount they come to an agreement on.

Magic Item Creation Feats have the following Prerequisites:

Brew Potion – Craft(Alchemy) 6 Ranks

Craft Magic Arms and Armor – Craft(Weaponsmithing), Craft(Armorsmithing), or Craft(Bowmaking) 8 Ranks

Forge Ring – Craft(Jeweler) 15 Ranks

Craft Rod, Craft Staff, Create Wand, and Scribe Scroll are still purviews of spellcasters, and the original rules apply.

Craft Wondrous Items – This is an interesting case.  Since so many different types of items fall underneath here, it is hard to assign a particular effect.  As such, the prerequisites for this feat are, in addition to being a 3rd level caster, also can use 6 Ranks in a relevant Craft skill as a prerequisite, but only for any Wondrous Items that can be made with that Craft Skill, such as Craft(Leatherworking)as a prerequisite for making boots and some types of cloaks and clothes.