The Hexcrawling Game: Part 3 – House Rules

Part 1Part 2

Here, finally, is my first attempt at house rules for hexcrawling. Most of it, any way. A separate post on hazardous terrain will follow. There will also be playtesting reports, once they have seen actual use at the table. As you can see, I had to screw up the value of roads in order to make the movement point system work. But, I think that is a reasonable price to pay. We’ll see how it works out in practice.

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The Hexcrawling Game: Part 2 – Intentions

OK, I lied. No actual house rules yet. What I want to do instead is lay out what I am trying to accomplish with this exercise. What do I want to have at the end of it?

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The Hexcrawling Game: Part 1- Rules as Written

The adventures I ran most in my youth were hexcrawls; specifically, Isle of Dread (X1) and the Volturnus series (SF0-3) for Star Frontiers. Looking back, after reading a lot of good articles on hexcrawling in the last couple of years, I didn’t run them well. I want to do much better when the Crusader Kingdoms campaign (which seems less aptly named all the time) moves into it’s wilderness exploration phase. So, I have been doing a lot of reading, and even ran Mutiny On The Eleanor Moraes (SFKH2) as a one-off to practice. Based on this, I have decided I want to house-rule the ACKS wilderness adventuring rules a little bit. Most importantly, I want to move to a movement points model as similar as I can get to the one from Avalon Hill’s Outdoor Survival game, as described in this Damn You Gygax! article at Delta’s D&D Hotspot. However, not wanting to screw up the delicate balance of ACKSonomics, I don’t want to change the actual distances moved per unit of game time.

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Undead Horrors of the Crusader Kingdoms

It seems like every D&D blog eventually has a post on the author’s opinion on energy drain/level drain. Since the last session featured a variety of undead creatures, I might as well tackle the subject now.

I don’t mind energy drain, but having the majority of undead creatures have energy drain as their shtick is boring. Wights? 3HD + energy drain. Wraiths? 4HD + energy drain. Spectres? 6HD + energy drain. Vampires? You get the idea.

Now, undead are by far my favorite monsters, and I simply cannot abide them being boring. So, I limit energy drain to vampires only. I also make vampires have to suck your blood to energy drain you. Because that’s what vampires do – suck blood. Vampires that magically drain your life essence, such as those found in D&D and Skyrim? They might as well sparkle.

With energy drain mostly off the table, I put some effort into making each of the common types of undead have their own personality. I also made some new ones and dusted off some less common ones from older editions. The results are below, in Bridge to Cynidicea’s trademark brain-scrambling-wall-of-text format.

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Unique Weapons and Armor of the Crusader Kingdoms

As requested, below the fold are brief descriptions of the unique weapons and armor from the previous post. Note that they are just rough notes intended to be expanded when the item actually shows up in the campaign.

*Spoiler Alert* If any of my players are reading this, you will only be spoiling the surprise if you read on.

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I Hate Swords +1

As the title states, I hate the phrases “sword +1”, “shield +2”, “plate armor +2”, etc. They pull me right out of the fiction. You shouldn’t give anything in your game world a name that doesn’t make sense for the characters to say. So, I stole an idea from George R. R. Martin, and made magic swords in the Crusader Kingdoms into swords made with special metals that can only be worked with magic. I also like the idea of a split between common and unique magic items, as implied by the ACKS Magical Engineering proficiency.

So, I created my own tables for magic swords, armor, and miscellaneous weapons. Here are the results. Note that several of the unique swords are stolen from Simon at The Sky Full of Dust.

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The Atlantean Shadow

Atlantean Shadow

Prime Requisite: DEX and INT
Requirements: INT 9, WIS 9, CHA 9
Hit Dice: 1d4
Maximum Level: 10

Atlantean shadows are the heirs of the traditions of the mysterious orders of spies and assassins that once served the Atlantean Emperors. They use illusions and other magic to elegantly and reliably accomplish the tricks that mundane thieves attempt with crude muscle and gadgets.

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