My Dungeons and Dragons Mechanics

I have posted this on as well, but I figured since I am working on my own blog and trying to get it up and running, in the hopes of someday being on, I should really start posting more stuff… 


My Mechanics for DnD


I’d like to think I’m a fairly good DM.  I know I have my strengths, and I have my weaknesses.  I’m always looking to improve my DMing skills, for me and for my players.  I’m also always looking for ways to improve the game that I love the most.. Dungeons and Dragons….  These are things that I’ve done/am trying that work for me…  I figured I’d jot them down for other people to see..  Maybe people will like them..  Maybe they won’t….  I like sharing ideas because with feedback comes new and better ideas, etc and so on.  Hopefully someone out there will like, at LEAST, one thing I’ve done.  Oh, and I don’t claim that any of this is new or novel at all, cause I’m sure it’s all been done before.


Thanks for reading.


4e Rules– I have purchased the core 4e books and the PHB 2 because I wanted to judge for myself on 4e instead of just listening to other peoples opinions, while valid, of 4e.  I read through all the books till my eyes bled and found that many of the mechanics I really liked, but the classes and the lack of customization, I really don’t.  I also don’t like that many of the powers are honestly just variations on a theme.  So reading through, I looked at what made 4e, to me, more fun/easier and decided what I wanted to keep.

  • All characters initiative going up every even level.  This makes sense to me.  Adventures of level 12 still going at their original +2 (because they don’t have a great dex or imp initiative) just seems so non-epic to me.
  • I’ve kept healing surges, to lighten the load on the healers, but they only get 2 + CON Mod (min of +1) healing surges per day. 
  • Bloodied- I’ve kept bloodied, but when bloodied characters take -2 to all roles, showing that they are becoming fatigued.
  • One thing that really annoyed me with 3.x is status effects.  The are difficult to keep track of.  “You are poisoned, feared, etc for 2d4 rounds.”  I like 4e use of it goes on the whole encounter, but at the end of your turn, you get a save.  I’m keeping that, but using 3.5 saving throws.
  • Powers- What I decided to do with the powers is at level one the players can choose 2 powers, either encounter, daily, or utility.  Both can be used once per day.  As they level up they can swap out powers for something else.  Also if they really like a low level power, we buff it up to match their level.  IE- I have a 3.5 warlock in my campaign who really likes the 4e spell of Falagenos (spelling), which is a level 1 daily and does 3d8 damage.  Not exactly a wow of a spell when you are level 12.  So we upped the damage to 8d8 + ½ level.  Bit better.
  • I also like the status affects more in 4e, but haven’t had a chance to play with those yet for 4e, but plan on attempting to add them to see how they work.
  • I’m using 4e races, racial abilities, and racial powers and seeing how that works in 3.x
  • Quick Draw feat gives an additional +2 to Initiative.  I like this.
  • How do you update Monsters from 3.x to reflect the initiative boost?  Simple, look at their challenge rating or level advancement, and ½ that.  There is their new bonus to initiative.  If they have a rapid strike or quick draw feat give em +2 initiative.


Monster Mods- One of the things that always got to me about many role-playing games is the length of combat.  Something that many GM’s and players have struggled with.  To me combat should be fast, furious, deadly without the really striving for TPK.  What I decided to do was create a style of “minion” or “mook,” for lack of a better term.  They don’t have 1 HP, but can def be killed in 1 to 2 hits.  But to make them more of a threat, I give them a higher initiative, higher attack, and up their damage and saves.  So if the creature has an axe that normally does 1d8 damage, I up it to 2 or 3 d8. 

The next style of enemy has slightly higher HP and doesn’t do as much damage, but has some tricks up their sleeves that can make them just as nasty, but again, they can go down in 2-4 hits.

Then it goes to mini-boss and boss type creatures.  These can be anything…  A goblin king to a shambling mound to a chaos beast to a lich.  I look at what the MM says their abilities, stats, etc are, use those as a base, and up or lower damage stats and etc.  Usually I do this on the fly and have gotten decently good at providing a challenge for my players.

Fencing- I’ve heard that Nobis is coming out in July and has mechanics for fencing and I’m excited to see what they have come up with and may take that over what I’ve done.  One thing that I see players rarely take use of is blocking, parrying, and dodging.  Why?  Because combat is a war of HP attrition, and the one who loses HP faster loses..  And with 3.x mechanics, you have to use your attack (sometimes full action) to block or parry an attack.  Then there is a complex set of rules that allows you to oppose roll, roll again, then roll again (I’m exaggerating) and you may get a hit off on the target for doing this… 

So what I’ve come up with (and am currently play testing this) is Fencing points.  You get your level in fencing points and they refresh every level.  Fencing points can be used to dodge, or block attacks.  You can block 1 attack by target once per round by burning points.  They refresh ever level.  If you have 4 guys making one attack each on you, you can burn 4 points in an attempt to block.  If you have three guys making 2 attacks each.  You can only burn three points and block one attack of each enemy.  To block or dodge you roll a DEX (the Modifier) or Athletics/Tumble check (whichever is higher) and dodge the attack and shift one square away.  The DC is their attack roll.  For blocking you roll an opposing attack roll, if you beat them, you successfully block their attack.  The next part has more on Fencing options in the Eberron rules.


Eberron rules- I like Eberron’s rules for Action Points.  You get 3+ your level and they add +#d6 (depending on level) to your attack, save, skill check, ability check rolls when you decided to use one.  They come in handy, and allow the players to be exceptional.  I give everyone the Action Surge Feat, which allows the player to burn three action points to take an extra move or attack action (basically what burning 1 AP in 4e does).  In regards to Fencing it also allows bonuses.  If you successfully block an attack, even if it is not your turn you can burn three AP and make a free attack.  If you successfully Dodge an attack, you can spend 3 AP and make a move action.  These actions are limited because it is NOT your players turn, but allow you to do something extra.


Pathfinder- I’m also using rules and changes from Pathfinder Beta and when the published book goes live, I’ll assimilate what I like from that and what I like from the beta.  Pathfinder has quite a few changes that I like to feats, combat, etc.


Alright..  So that’s it..  My little bit of knowledge..  Whether you like it or not, I just wanted to put it out there for others to criticize or take ideas from or whatever.. 




Mike E.

Author: Mike Evans

I am a History major attending a community college until I can get more financial aid and attend a four year school. I am living in NJ with my girlfriend who is currently wrapping up on obtaining her PhD in Toxicology. I love Star Wars, Role-playing, video games, working out, reading, writing, and hanging with my girlfriend, dog (Perfect), and two kittens (Birch and Brambles). My main focus on this site will be my discussion of Role-playing games and ideas and hopefully contribute something worth a damn.

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