Age of Ascension
Episodic Nature: To lessen the work for all involved, sessions will be episodic in nature; a typical session will introduce an entirely new series of events and, barring special circumstances, will end at an appropriate moment in the story. This doesn’t mean that everything that happens is pre-arranged. After each session, we’ll talk briefly about the intentions of the group; the next episode will likely follow those intentions, though there may be times that unexpected events lead to something entirely different. This should ease my planning, leave the players in control of their actions, and make each session or couple of sessions an open and shut case with few fine details to remember for weeks. Expect episodes to form story arcs, though.
Player Absence: If feasible, the absent PC will be moved temporarily behind the scenes by the DM, via an in-character explanation. If there is no clean way of doing this, the character will be run by another player, no holds barred, until the DM deems it a good time to move the character into the background.
Combat Pacing: In combat, or any time the pacing of the game moves into six second rounds, players have 20 seconds to begin describing their character’s actions, otherwise they miss their turn. If they speak aloud to any member of the party during this time, it doesn’t count as beginning to describe their actions. Furthermore, anything spoken aloud during combat can be acted upon by the enemy where appropriate. Exceptions can be made for legitimate questions about feasibility of certain options or game mechanics.
Session End: At the end of the session, experience will be given out, and any loot is split from a common pool by whatever method the party deems best. A character may use specific loot during the session, such as a potion or piece of scavenged equipment, but it will still be placed in the common pool for splitting at the end. Discussion will follow about the intentions of the players for the next episode.
Alternate Experience System: The traditional system of experience is arguably convoluted and involves a lot of math that doesn’t reflect the completely fluid nature of D&D. An alternate system will be used.
Bloodied: In 4e, any character or creature that is reduced to 50% or less of their health receives a -2 penalty to all d20 rolls, reflecting pain or exhaustion. Players should keep this in mind as another layer of tactical combat; it’s the point at which the battle begins going downhill for either side, rather than a boolean dead-or-alive logic.
Character Death: Characters reduced to 0hp are disabled but stable. Characters reaching negative hp will decline at a rate of 1hp/rd, with death occuring at -(constitution score). Mundanely stabilized characters are returned to 0 health. Characters brought to positive hp will awaken on their next turn, in a prone position.
Magic: The nature of arcane spellcasting is chaotic, and weakens the fabric of the planes, possibly causing backlash or attracting the attention of outsiders and demons. Every time an arcane spell is cast, a d20 is rolled; on a roll of 1, the caster suffers a spellblight, as described in the Pathfinder Ultimate Magic rulebook. Spells of 5th level or lower cause minor spellblights; 6th level and above cause major. A roll of 20, however, results in a spell critical as an unexpected surge of power flows through the caster. There is no way to know beforehand the source of this energy; the caster may choose to embrace it, resulting in +1d6 to the save dc of his spell, but he must then succeed at a concentration check of the same dc, or suffer a spellblight after the casting. There are feats available to alter these variables. Not that the spell SLOT used for the casting is used to determine whether a major or minor spellblight is inflicted. Additionally, certain magically dormant or saturated areas will alter the dice ranges of either effect.
Spell Components: The proximity of energy sources from the outer planes makes the need for spell components trivial… not to mention they’re a pain to keep track of. Only components valued at 100gp or more must be tracked.
Divine Metamagic: Does not exist.
The D20: A roll of 20 on a skill check or attack roll is counted as a 30, while a 1 is considered a -10 to the total roll. A master blacksmith has a less than 1 in 20 chance to weld his hand to the anvil while making horseshoes. An attack roll of one results in a critical fumble, and a further d20 roll determines the severity, with higher being more severe.
Standard Equipment: All mundane gear will be treated exactly as described in the Pathfinder ruleset, including supplements such as Ultimate Combat. Gear that exists in the 3.5 supplements, but not Pathfinder, may be available as long as it balances correctly with Pathfinder, else with alterations.
Firearms: Early Firearms are available, with special conditions. Note the need for an Exotic Weapon Proficiency; in our campaign, this does not represent knowledge of how to load and fire so much as how to keep these complicated weapons in working order.
- A hit with a firearm automatically imparts the Bloodied condition, regardless of the target’s health percentage. This persists until any healing whatsoever is received, including a basic healing skill check, representing the fact that there is no way to skillfully avoid the consequences of being hit by a gunshot, regardless of how we visualize what hitpoints represent.
- Wet conditions (Rain, crashing ocean waves, sea spray, or the if user has been completely submerged within the last day, for example.) raise the misfire range to 10, or 5 for a masterwork.
- If a firearm is used after gaining the Broken condition for any reason including a misfire, another misfire destroys the weapon, dealing its damage to the user in the process.
- Firing a gun is both noisy and highly visible, producing a flash and a smoke cloud, in addition to a very distinctive smell.
- Firearms are objects of wonder and intimidation, and will be treated as such in character. This can translate to a bonus to the intimidation skill, for example, or attract the attention of authorities. Guns are a status symbol, representing money and power.
Encumbrance: Tracking exact weight is cumbersome. A character can carry as many unworn items as his strength score. This includes weapons. Several small items of the same type count as one item for this purpose.