Friday, February 4, 2011

A 4e/Gamma World Gedankenexperiment

Despite the fact that I had pretty much resolved to avoid any new RPG purchases this year, the wife had an Amazon credit burning a hole in her virtual pocket and decided to purchase me a copy of the D&D Gamma World box set. While it looks like a potentially fun little beer and pretzels/turn of your brain game set, and while it is definitely NOT like the versions of GW I have played in the past, it struck me as potentially providing a way to develop a 4e rules set that is more fitting with my own sensibilities.

In the D&DGW rules, for instance, you build your characters rolling up two “Origins” that determine two ability scores and a bunch of special abilities for your character, and much of what is left is either on a set formula or by random die rolls. This allows some randomness to your abilities, some simple reliable attacks and defenses, and a limited list of powers to get to memorize.

I was thinking that this might be an interesting model on which to re-mold 4e for more easy access. Characters could choose two backgrounds from a list of simplified semi-classes. They may choose only one Racial background. Not choosing a Racial background makes you a human. This will give characters two set abilities at 18 and 16 OR one ability at 20 (if both backgrounds share the same ability score), leaving the rest to be rolled (3d6 in order). This also gives up to 4 skills they will be trained in. Finally, this gives a set of powers to use, and an advancement scheme.

I would discard feats as part of this process, and hold to level 10 max and the +level bonuses to damage, attack, and defense rolls per new Gamma World, and maybe keep up the idea of item cards (of my own making) that give some sort of simple encounter powers.
Anyway, to finish the Gedankenexperiment, here are some not-at-all play-tested sample backgrounds to give you an idea of how things might work in a standard D&D style game. In an Athanor game, I might make racial backgrounds for Alemanians, Mal'Akkans, Throon, and Ghuls, and make others "human" (Duma, Khitai, or Zamoran) -- though I might make racial backgrounds for all but Zamorans. I might make backgrounds for scholars, spies, duelists, explorers, etc. It's a thought, if I wanted to go in a 4e-ish direction. But I thought I would put the idea out there for someone else to steal and run with when I get distracted and go another direction myself.


Dwarf

Background Type:    Constitution, Racial
Skill Bonus (Level 1): Gain a +4 bonus to Endurance and Dungeoneering checks.
Stable (Level 1):Reduce forced movement by 1, may save to avoid being knocked prone.
Hard as Stone (Level 1): Gain a +2 bonus to Fortitude defense.
Dwarf Critical (Level 2 or 6): When you score a critical hit, the attack does 1d10 extra damage and target is knocked prone.

Dwarf Powers
Brutal Hammer
Dwarf Novice
At will, Racial, Weapon
Standard Action
Melee Weapon
Target: One Creature
Attack: 4 + your level + weapon accuracy vs. AC
Hit: 1[W] + twice your level physical damage and you mark the target until the end of your next turn.

Mountain’s Resolve
Dwarf Utility
Encounter, Racial
Minor Action
Personal
Effect: You regain hit points equal to 5 + your level and make a saving throw with a +5 bonus.

Forge of Fury
Dwarf Expert
Encounter, Racial, Weapon
Standard Action
Close Burst 1
Target: All Creatures in Burst
Attack: 4+ your level + weapon accuracy vs. AC
Hit: 2[W] + twice your level physical damage and target is knocked prone.

Elf, Wood
Background Type:    Dexterity, Racial
Skill Bonus (Level 1): Gain a +4 bonus to Nature and Perception checks.
Elf Senses (Level 1):Elves have nightvision.
Scout (Level 1): Grant all allies within 10 squares a +2 bonus to Perception checks.
Elf Critical (Level 2 or 6): When you score a critical hit, the attack does 1d10 extra damage and target is slowed until the end of your next turn.

Elf Powers
Swift Archer
Elf Novice
At will, Racial, Weapon
Standard Action
Ranged Weapon
Target: One or Two Creatures
Attack: 4 + your level + weapon accuracy vs. AC
Hit: 1[W] + twice your level physical damage.
Special: You may shift two squares before or after this attack.

Elusive Target
Elf Utility
Encounter, Racial
Move Action
Personal
Effect: Shift your speed +2.

Rain of Arrows
Elf Expert
Encounter, Racial, Weapon
Standard Action
Area Burst 2
Target: All Enemies in Burst
Attack: 4+ your level + weapon accuracy vs. AC
Hit: 1[W] + twice your level physical damage and target is knocked prone.

Thief
Background Type:    Dexterity, Martial
Skill Bonus (Level 1): Gain a +4 bonus to Stealth and Thievery checks.
Slippery as an Eel (Level 1):Gain a +2 bonus to defenses vs. opportunity attacks.
Quick Reflexes (Level 1): Gain a +2 bonus to Reflex defense.
Thief Critical (Level 2 or 6): When you score a critical hit, the attack does 1d10 extra damage and you have combat advantage against the target until the end of your next turn.

Thief Powers
Backstabber
Thief Novice
At will, Martial, Weapon
Standard Action
Melee Weapon
Target: One Creature
Attack: Dexterity + your level + weapon accuracy vs. AC
Hit: 1[W] + your level physical damage. If you have combat advantage, add twice your Dexterity modifier to the damage dealt.

Hide in Shadows
Thief Utility
Encounter, Martial
Minor Action
Personal

Effect: You become invisible to all enemies until the end of your next turn or until you attack.


Knife in the Back
Thief Expert
Encounter, Martial Weapon
Standard Action
Melee Weapon

Target: One Creature
Attack: Dexterity + your level + weapon accuracy vs. AC
Hit: 2[W] + Dexterity modifier + your level physical damage. If you have combat advantage, do your level in ongoing damage (save ends).