[D&D 2097e] Ammo recovery, Aiming & Charging up spells

Ammo Recovery

OK, the old arrow threat house rule wasn’t great, didn’t give the intended results, and so I hereby obsolete it and here is the new deal!

Ammo recovery in the RAW

Let’s go back to the RAW! That means,

AFTER battle, you get back half of your ammo (arrows, daggers, javelins, darts etc) rounded down and it takes a minute of searching.

When I wrote the original arrow threat, I was unaware of that rule; it’s easy to miss (it’s under “Ammo” in the weapon properties list).

House rule №1: Aiming rolls

Aiming is a new, house-ruled combat action!

You can spend an attack to instead aim! (So if you have “extra attack”, or “action surge”, or whatever, you can translate any number of those attacks to be Aiming instead of attacking, for example you can aim & attack in the same round if you have two attacks.)

YOU HAVE TO DESCRIBE YOUR AIMING in a cool way to be allowed to aim!

Spending an attack in this way gives you an aim point. You can have any number of aim points, but whenever you gain XP, or rest, you lose all aim points.

Whenever you do a ranged attack vs AC, you can spend aim points to make extra attack rolls vs that same target.

The benefits of aiming are that you save ammo and that you look cool. The downsides of aiming are that you might end up wasting aim points, and that you might not be able to spread out your attacks among a large amount of lower-powered enemies.

It’s especially appreciated if you describe your aiming on a specific enemy, but the aim points aren’t mechanically tied to a specific enemy, since taking your time steadying your ground, focusing your breath etc is beneficial even if you change your target.

Aiming Example

Jenny has +5 to hit with her shortbow and she deals 1d6+3 damage.

Let’s say she spends two rounds aiming at a skeleton (AC 13, HP 13). Both rounds she says a sentence or so about her aiming. Then, when she finally lets go off her arrow, she gets to make three rolls vs that AC 13, and for each hit she gets to roll the damage and add it all up. Let’s say she rolled a 9 (+5 = 14), a 4 (+5 = 9) and a 12 (+5 = 17). Two hits. So that one arrow deals 2d6 + 6 (that’s two rolls of 1d6 + 3) damage to that skeleton. That’s brutal!

House rule №2: Charging up spells

(This doesn’t really have anything to do with ammo recovery but it works similarly to aiming so that’s why I put it here.)

You can charge up your spells by spending the casting time (for example, one action) and components (V, S, and/or M—with the benefit of spellcasting focus or component pouch as usual) of the spell. Each spell & slot level combination has its own pool of charge points, for example you might have one for Eldritch Blast, one for level 1 Sleep etc. You lose all charge points whenever you gain XP and when you rest.

YOU HAVE TO DESCRIBE YOUR CHARGING UP THE SPELL in a cool way to be allowed to do it.

Then when you cast the spell, you can spend charge points (and extra slots, if the charged spell wasn’t a cantrip) to cast multiple copies of the spell.

The benefit is that you can work compress (sleep is an example of a spell that is unusually effective), and that you might save slots in case you end up not using the spell after all, that you avoid drawing aggro and that you look cool & powerful. The downside is that you might waste actions and components if you end up losing the charge points, and that it’s a hassle af to track so many charge points.

Spell Charging Example

Jenny wants to charge up a level one sleep spell. She spends two rounds charging it up, saying the magic words (v component), the gestures (s component) and brandishing the rose petal (m component) for two charge points, and a sentence or two describing how she is charging up the spell. Those charge points are specific to “level 1 sleep” and can’t be used for other spells of the same level, like “level 1 chaos bolt” or for other levels of sleep, like “level 2 sleep”. Then on the third round she casts the spell, spending two charge points and three separate level 1 slots to cast the sleep spell three times consecutively. Nighty-night, little angels!

House rule №3: Mending!

Mending, the most under-powered and crappy cantrip of all time! By the RAW, it doesn’t do jack to help you find or fix arrows but let’s change that.

When you’re searching for ammo, up to two pieces of ammo that would’ve been lost can instead be broken & mending-mendable.

Mending Example

Jenny throws three daggers. By the RAW, searching the battlefield would’ve given her 1 dagger and then 2 would’ve been lost. With this house rule, she finds one non-broken dagger and two broken ones.

Comments

  • I'm not very sold on your aiming rule myself; feels too powerful in an arbitrary way to me. Of course, that's such a contextual feeling that I'm sure that this is a good fit for your particular campaign.

    For me a single-target version would be more appropriate, and wouldn't indeed be that different from the assassination rules I use. I'd still have the aim lost if anything breaks concentration, and the character would factually have to be doing aiming with a precision weapon to use it. And it wouldn't be uncapped.

    Tactically your version would make me concerned about all kinds of weird arrangements; the freedom you provide seems to me to mostly cause weird situations that might or might not be intended. For instance, is it intentional that characters can aim before an enemy is present? Just wait in a room and aim at the door, waiting for the enemy to show up?

    I wouldn't blink at it if it was a monk class ability called "Flow State" or something and had a limit of storing at most one aim point per level. (This'd be usable with melee attacks as well, of course.) It's the relatively mundane idea of aiming with a bow or a gun that feels difficult to align with this super-abstract and powerful rule.
  • Very interesting.

    I agree with Eero’s comments here; it seems a bit odd in places.

    For instance, can I “charge up” a bunch of spells when I know a combat encounter is coming up, and then let loose with a mega-spell once the enemy appears?

    How does that interact with Sorcery Points - there might be some odd combinations.

    Messing with the action economy in this way could create room for certain loopholes :)
  • I’m not very sold on your aiming rule myself; feels too powerful in an arbitrary way to me. Of course, that’s such a contextual feeling that I’m sure that this is a good fit for your particular campaign.

    For me a single-target version would be more appropriate, and wouldn’t indeed be that different from the assassination rules I use. I’d still have the aim lost if anything breaks concentration, and the character would factually have to be doing aiming with a precision weapon to use it.

    That was always the intent; or, rather, aiming at one enemy but being given a quick window to switch target if that enemy goes down. I was envisioning having your bow drawn and never taking your eyes off the enemy.

    I also made a thread over at Giant in the Playground; they are also poking holes in the rule and I’ve made a lot of changes. I’m focusing on the aiming rules first before I turn my attention to the spell charging stuff, which I ultimately don’t care about as much. it’s still not great and maybe this particular angle needs to be abandonded or go back to the drawing board.

    The ultimate design goal here is something that fillls in the “fuzziness” around each round spent with the bow; both hits & misses, from nock to recovery. And to make it less something that we retroactively have to make sense of (“Uh, let’s say I was just aiming for most of that battle”) and more something that makes sense all the way.

    I also want them to not “miss” as much. I want the characters to look compentent.

    I like chambara movies where there’s stare-stare-stare-chop, and swashbuckler movies where there’s clang-clang-clang-touché, and I don’t like slasher movies where there is bloody chop after bloody chop after bloody chop.

    Similar improvements for swords&axes would be great too, something rewarding that makes the clang-clang-clang or the stare-stare-stare more explicit and fun, while still differentiating [beating their AC & causing them to lose HP] from [rolling under their AC].

    As you know, I really love the AC/HP interaction as a “death clock” or as a pacing mechanic. But there are some problems; high HP people aren’t really threatened by an arrow, or any weapon really. The whole “Come with me if you want to live” kind of thing. And the old dragon story where I lost a player (this was back in 2014) because he had a lot of drama invested in one shot, the whole “aiming for the eye” kind of thing, and in the end he only did like three damage and the dragon laughed it off.

    So going back to the drawing board…

    we have a couple of parameters.

    • Wounded / Fresh / Fatigued
    • Beat AC / Miss AC
    • Big HP loss / Small HP loss
    • Arrow hit wall / Arrow stuck in enemy / Arrow still drawn & being aimed
    • Sword parried / Sword evaded / Sword hit flesh

    Trying to figure out some way to retain the current math & class “balance” (or w/e), just changing some of the left-facing “cloud←dice” arrows so that we don’t have as much contradicting detail.

  • I’m not very sold on your aiming rule myself; feels too powerful in an arbitrary way to me. Of course, that’s such a contextual feeling that I’m sure that this is a good fit for your particular campaign.

    For me a single-target version would be more appropriate, and wouldn’t indeed be that different from the assassination rules I use. I’d still have the aim lost if anything breaks concentration, and the character would factually have to be doing aiming with a precision weapon to use it.

    That was always the intent; or, rather, aiming at one enemy but being given a quick window to switch target if that enemy goes down. I was envisioning having your bow drawn and never taking your eyes off the enemy.

    I also made a thread over at Giant in the Playground; they are also poking holes in the rule and I’ve made a lot of changes. I’m focusing on the aiming rules first before I turn my attention to the spell charging stuff, which I ultimately don’t care about as much. it’s still not great and maybe this particular angle needs to be abandonded or go back to the drawing board.

    The ultimate design goal here is something that fillls in the “fuzziness” around each round spent with the bow; both hits & misses, from nock to recovery. And to make it less something that we retroactively have to make sense of (“Uh, let’s say I was just aiming for most of that battle”) and more something that makes sense all the way.

    I also want them to not “miss” as much. I want the characters to look compentent.

    I like chambara movies where there’s stare-stare-stare-chop, and swashbuckler movies where there’s clang-clang-clang-touché, and I don’t like slasher movies where there is bloody chop after bloody chop after bloody chop.

    Similar improvements for swords&axes would be great too, something rewarding that makes the clang-clang-clang or the stare-stare-stare more explicit and fun, while still differentiating [beating their AC & causing them to lose HP] from [rolling under their AC].

    As you know, I really love the AC/HP interaction as a “death clock” or as a pacing mechanic. But there are some problems; high HP people aren’t really threatened by an arrow, or any weapon really. The whole “Come with me if you want to live” kind of thing. And the old dragon story where I lost a player (this was back in 2014) because he had a lot of drama invested in one shot, the whole “aiming for the eye” kind of thing, and in the end he only did like three damage and the dragon laughed it off.

    So going back to the drawing board…

    we have a couple of parameters.

    • Wounded / Fresh / Fatigued
    • Beat AC / Miss AC
    • Big HP loss / Small HP loss
    • Arrow hit wall / Arrow stuck in enemy / Arrow still drawn & being aimed
    • Sword parried / Sword evaded / Sword hit flesh

    Trying to figure out some way to retain the current math & class “balance”, just changing some of the way we describe things (by putting in those descriptions as explicit mechanical options or outcomes) so that we don’t have as much contradicting detail.

  • edited May 6

    Part of the problem is that the words “hit” and “miss” are very overloaded right now, confusingly so. “Hit” as in hit the monster in the SIS, “hit” as in “my number hit the target number”, and “hit” as in “hit point”.

    Maybe the verbs “wound” or “hurt” can help.

    This is just me brainstorming kinda desperately rn, throwing things on the wall pretty much:

    Oh, injury!

    (we’ve already use the wound threshold house rule rule for PCs for a while; wound threshold for monster is new.)

    everyone has a particular HP value that’s their wound threshold. Hobos can set any non-negative value lower than their max HP. The default (if you haven’t set anything) is 1. For monsters (my pretties…), it’s twice the HD if a HD is listed.

    “Wounding” means inflicting HP loss on someone so their HP goes from above the threshold, to equal to or below it.

    When you (a hobo) is wounded, if you didn’t also go to zero, you gain inspiration. Then regardless if you went to zero or not, you roll on the lingering injuries table.

    When you wound a monster, if it didn’t also go to zero, instead of a random lingering injury, you get to say how the monster is damaged. You have three choices of mechanical effect: a one-time advantage when attacking it; a one-time advantage when defending against it; or its speed is halved for one turn. For example, you might damage their vision, or their sword arm, and get advantage on defending against them, or damage their legs and slow them down.

    To get this benefit use words like “maneuver”, “aim”, “threaten”, “assess”, “frighten”, “corner”, “parry”, “charging up a spell” and similar when describing your each of your non-wounding attacks on that monster, as you make them (whether hits or misses – this is your chance to make misses look cool!). If you do, you get an additional benefit: ammunition or thrown weapons aren’t expended for non-wounding attacks. Spell slots are still expended regardless.

    Describing your attacks in this way lays the groundwork for hurting the monsters; the DM will say “you can hurt the monster” when its HP goes to the wound threshold or lower. Regardless, the DM will say “you can kill the monster” when it goes to zero or less HP. (In the latter case, you can also choose to subdue or capture the monster.) Describing your answer to this prompt doesn’t cost an action, it’s outside the turn order. This prompt, whether hurting or damaging, is a perfect to release that arrow or throwing knife. If you decline to kill or subdue the monster it is still going to be alive & awake at zero HP until the next time someone makes a successful attack at it.

    Example flow:

    Jenny: I try to find a window to hit the skeleton!
    DM: OK, AC 13.
    Jenny: [Rolls] 6 bludgeoning damage!
    DM: That’s 12 damage with his vulnerability. You can hurt him!
    Jenny: I smash his sword arm with my mace.. crrrrrush! Imposing disad on his next attack.

    or,

    Jenny: I aim my bow at one of the stirges!
    DM: OK, AC 14.
    Jenny: [Rolls] not enough yet… I’m still holding my aim steady.
    [later that same… uh, evening]
    Jenny: Still trying to find that perfect shot on the stirge… [Rolls] six damage!
    DM: That’s more than enough! You can kill it!
    Jenny: I let the arrow fly, piercing it!

    If you don’t describe your attacks in this way, you need to expend your ammunition or thrown weapon as normal and you can’t get the benefit for hurting a monster. You are still given the option to kill the monster when its HP goes to zero.

    The wound threshold doesn’t affect healing or regaining HP; it’s not a special kind of HP, it’s just a special amount of HP.

  • edited May 6
    Premise: as I haven't been playing literal D&D in a while, and have no plans to get back to it (my own attempts at hosting dungeon crawls tend to use even more abstract, T&T-based fighting subsystems) I'm only here to kill time.

    Aiming rules as described here on May 5th: contrary to some other voices here, I really like them. :heart: First of all, I agree with the objective: raining arrows every 5-second round is a very poor way of modeling most ranged combat situations in 21st century D&D (it makes much more sense when using AD&D1-style, 1-minute combat rounds).
    I don't think these are "overpowered" at all. Effectively, you are trading a minor benefit (conserving ammunition) for a non-trivial disadvantage (postponing your attack) plus coolness - a perfectly balanced trade-off. In fact, unless you make a big deal of restocking ammunition in your game, I expect players not to choose the aiming option in fights against multiple foes, as the earlier in the fight you remove at least one of the opponents the fewer losses you risk incurring as a party. I would only choose to aim when facing a "solo" monster, for the coolness factor first with conserving ammo as an added benefit.
    If, however, arrows are roughly as valuable as low-level spell slots, then the trade-off becomes an appealing one. This is what would happen in a game where the "adventuring day" is long if arrow weight and quiver capacity are house-ruled to be more "realistic" than in any D&D manuals I've read through (I don't know about 5e, but my experience with 3e was one of quivers of arrows being treated sort of like handgun clips).
    I also like how the rule makes thrown weapons much more viable (without resorting to bandoliers of knives). On a similar note, magical arrows would suddenly make for interesting treasure in your game: it makes sense, under these rules, to have e.g. a +3 vs. dragons arrow in the game (and not necessarily a quiver full of those). :heart:
    Also, for a D&D game including firearms and going the usual way of "more deadly than bows at the cost of spending rounds on charging them", your aiming rules would form the basis for quite interesting an action economy: if I have a loaded, single-shot gun going into a fight, I might as well want to make that one shot really count.

    When it comes to spell-charging rules, though, I'm not sure I see the point of them. I'm probably just dense, or not looking at them the right way. :(

    As for the new injury rules you posted today, I'm not sure I've read them carefully enough to understand the details, but it seems to me you're basically going the way of Anima Prime, with the maneuver/strike action divide (which I tend to like a lot). Feels very un-D&D-ish to me, but in a good way. I wonder, however, if you aren't sacrificing the abstract value of hitpoints to the point you could well get rid of those altogether. :grey_question:

    EDIT: Wait, what was I thinking I'd read?! Those aren't new injury rules, are they, that's just the current state of the subsystem you've been developing for a while, and it works on top of the usual HP currency... Man, I'm not in my right mind.
  • Those new proposed injury rules would replace the "aim points" idea
  • OK, reread that and seen how nothing I've written about that is remotely relevant.

    Looks like a good subsystem to me. Uses HPs as a countdown clock of sorts with "wounding" as a special event which occurs about as often as "killing", which sounds about right. Emphasizes the abstractness of HPs while keeping the math of it almost exactly by-the-book.

    If there's one thing I'm not super into, it's how - as the binary hit/miss outcome of attack rolls is now decoupled from modeling a specific fictional act - it makes the two-step process of making an attack roll followed by a separate damage roll on a hit sound even more redundant than ever. I'd personally be much happier houseruling all damage to flat, fixed numbers, perhaps adjusted up or down for high or low margins on attack rolls.
  • So this old thread had a (since discarded) proposal that you get one aim point for free for just declaring that you’re aiming.

    But how about (and forget spells for this! normal ranged weapons only!)…

    you make the aim roll and get a larger number of aim points [same mechanics as making an attack roll + a damage roll], specific to that creature. If you see that you can kill or wound the creature you can just let the arrow fly. Otherwise you can choose to instead spend the arrow points to increase the HP cost of any other incoming damage that targets the monster you’re aiming at. You can keep aiming to keep racking up aim points, too.

    Old rejected [never even playtested] proposal: one aim point per (“dice-level”) attack.
    New proposal: multiple aim points per round, you roll your damage dice to see how aim points you get.

  • edited May 25
    Here's the more formal write up I sent to the group:

    Aim Points

    God, what the fuck is this, my fifth attempt to make “aiming rules”? It’s my white whale…

    Here is the proposal:

    This is only for ammunition & thrown weapons for now, not spells, at least not yet. I’m gonna use “arrow” in the description but could just as easily be dagger, sling bullet, crossbow bolt etc.

    How to Aim

    To aim, make an aiming roll vs the enemy’s AC using your weapon proficiency (so same modifier as you’d use for an attack) and if you make the roll, roll your weapons’ damage expression (for example 1d8+3 or whatever) and note that you have that many aim points on that enemy as long as you’re keeping your weapon aimed at that enemy. You can only have aim points on one enemy at a time, so you only need to keep track of one pool of aim points. Aiming costs the same action econ as attacks do, so if you have extra attack or multi attack you can aim more. You can also keep aiming over multiple turns to rack up the aim points.

    Once you’re aiming

    Once you’re aiming at an enemy, you can do one of two things: shoot, or frame trap. Either choice costs all of your aim points but neither costs any action econ; that means that it does not cost a main action, a reaction, or a bonus action.

    Shoot: Let the arrow fly

    You can send the arrow flying and it’s an incoming damage that bypasses AC and costs as much HP to negate as the aim points you spent.

    Perfect if you know that you could wound or kill the enemy by letting go of the arrow: “I aim at the goblin [roll roll] Oh it only has 7 hp? I let my arrow fly, killing it!”

    Frame trap: Improve a friend’s attack

    When you friend succeeds with an attack roll vs the enemy’s AC, and sends an incoming damage to that enemy, you can spend your aim points to add to the cost of that damage. Diegetically, if the enemy is trying to avoid being shot by you, it’s also harder to avoid the sword attacks.

    This makes aiming cool because it’s your choice if you want to kill steal (the enemy just spent a bunch of HP parrying a sword and now here’s a lethal arrow to finish the job) or team up (that sword is expensive enough because of all the aim points you helped with, so that the sword kills the enemy).

    The damage type (for the purps of resistances, vulnerabilites & immunities) of the aim points is still the damage type of the weapon you’re aiming with; a monster immune to piercing don’t care if bows are aimed at it.

    Oh, no, I lost track!

    You can only keep your aim points as long as you’re actively & actually aiming at that one particular enemy. About to lose track of the enemy? (Maybe you need to use both hands or the enemy is leaving or whatever.) Don’t worry, you have chance to let the arrow fly if you wish; sure, maybe they can afford to negate it but they at least have to spend hit points to do so, tiring them. And maybe you don’t want to shoot (maybe you’re aiming from hiding at a guard and the guard is leaving because there’s a guard shift…. do you let go of the arrow or do you just give up on the aim points? It’s your choice. Aiming is always good because it gives you choices.)

    Is aiming mandatory?

    No. For the most part, aiming has (or is intended to have) the same math as attacking. It just looks cooler & can conserve ammo!

    There is also a circumstance where it’s significantly more powerful to aim and that’s when you’re hidden.

  • For the most part, this doesn't excite me too much (I'm not sure it's that much more interesting than just saying "you can narrate a missile attack as aiming", although it does have some interesting properties), but I do like this part:

    There is also a circumstance where it’s significantly more powerful to aim and that’s when you’re hidden.

    I guess that's basically Eero's "assassination" mechanic from a thread way back, right? Anyway, I like it.

    I wonder if you would allow someone to use it with a melee weapon (so long as they're catching their target unaware and have time to aim)?
  • edited May 25
    I wonder if you would allow someone to use it with a melee weapon (so long as they're catching their target unaware and have time to aim)?
    Good idea!

    Edit: if the target is truly unaware you could just inflict death save failures right away. Goodbye sleeping PCs♥
  • I'm not sure it's that much more interesting than just saying "you can narrate a missile attack as aiming"
    Yes!♥ This is meant as "prompt-coherent" expression of that.


  • I guess that's basically Eero's "assassination" mechanic from a thread way back, right?
    "Eero's" assassination mechanic… that I invented.
  • edited May 25
    I wonder if you would allow someone to use it with a melee weapon (so long as they're catching their target unaware and have time to aim)?
    Good idea!

    Edit: if the target is truly unaware you could just inflict death save failures right away. Goodbye sleeping PCs♥
    What if they're not sleeping, but just unaware? (Like if two people are fighting, and you run up from behind and hit one on the back of the head...)
    I guess that's basically Eero's "assassination" mechanic from a thread way back, right?
    "Eero's" assassination mechanic… that I invented.
    Hmmm. I could have sworn that Eero talked about this, in the context of an old-school D&D scenario where some witches took over a town, and the adventurers were tasked with taking them out. However, I can't find the link, so I have no proof! :hushed:
  • What if they're not sleeping, but just unaware? (Like if two people are fighting, and you run up from behind and hit one on the back of the head...)
    Oh, yeah, that could be cool!
    Hmmm. I could have sworn that Eero talked about this, in the context of an old-school D&D scenario where some witches took over a town, and the adventurers were tasked with taking them out. However, I can't find the link, so I have no proof! :hushed:
    That thread I just linked has more deets on the evolution of these types of mechanics in both mine and Eero's games.
  • (I looked at the thread, and the earlier "assassination in 1e vs 5e" thread, but didn't find the account I was thinking of. Sorry! I still think it exists, for what it's worth...)
  • That wasn't an earlier thread. In fact you referenced the one thread in the other.
  • Ah! I see. Excellent work!
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