So, here are the rules for our next challenge (which I'm pretty sure most of you saw coming). Please ask if anything is unclear, this is the beta so feedback and such is very much desired.
Fire Chase Rules
The Heroes have 4 Zones of Lead at start.
Roll initiative. The highest initiative player becomes the Leading Player.
Three Cards are drawn and names shown. They are then put, in order, into the Up Ahead pool.
Based on conditions at the start of the Chase, the DM might bestow BONUS or PENALTY for the first turn.
On Each Turn
The Leading Player is dealt the first card from the Up Ahead pool. They won't know what the checks, choices or results of a card are until they’re committed to dealing with it (though one might be able to guess from the name).
Cards can be skipped (put into the discard pile) in two ways:
Any player may pay a single Hero Point.
If the previous player earned a BONUS, it can sacrificed by the current player.
Enact the game text on the card, making any rolls or choices as prompted. Once a card's full text is revealed, it must be completed. If the Leading Player has a BONUS at this time, they gain a +3 to any rolls made (or -3 if that is more favorable to the player). This expends the BONUS. .
A player may ignore (auto-fail) a card to use a healing/buffing ability on any player, following normal rules.
Players earn a BONUS if they pass the DC of a card by five or more.
Players earn a PENALTY if they fail the DC of a card by five or more. A PENALTY prevents the use of Hero Points during the next player’s turn for any reason.
The next player in initiative order becomes the Leading Player. However, a player can spend a Hero Point or the player who just went can sacrifice a just earned BONUS to instead move a person in the turn order to go next instead. This change in order is permanent, unless someone pays to change it again. Players cannot go more than once per round even if they have both Hero Points and a BONUS to spend at once.
Phases of a turn:
Start: The Leading Player decides whether to sacrifice their BONUS (or spend a HPt) to skip to the next card. This is done in OOC.
Presentation: The GM narrates the circumstances of the LP’s turn and presents them with the choice or roll for their card. This is done in the Game Thread.
Reaction: The LP decides or rolls (narration is desired as well). This is done in the Game Thread.
Results: The GM narrates the outcome of the LP’s actions and informs them of any damages, penalties or rewards such as a BONUS or PENALTY. This is done in the Game Thread.
Draw: A card (or two cards, if one was skipped earlier) is drawn to refill the Up Ahead Pool. This is done in OOC.
Passing on: The LP decides whether to sacrifice their earned BONUS (or spend a HPt) to move another PC up in the turn order so they go next.. This is done in OOC.
End: The current LP stops being the LP and the next player in the turn order steps up. This is done in OOC by either the current LP tagging the next LP or making me do it if you take too long.
Hero Points can be spent at any time during a turn by anyone, unless they have already spent one this round, the turn is under a PENALTY or there are special circumstances. PENALTIES are applied to the next turn, not the turn they’re earned. Thus, a Hero Point can be spent the round a Penalty is earned to ‘bring in a ringer’ for the next card. However, you can’t end a PENALTY turn, then use a Hero Point to redirect the hand-off- there’s no ‘dead time’ between turns.
Victory! Or Not… The chase will end when:
If 6 rounds finish with at least one PC still alive..
If the Party gets to 20 Lead
If the Party passes through the Inferno (alive)
The Party dies.
(As a note, End Condition 3 is basically End Condition 3. You will die, I’m just giving false hope)
Animal companions, followers, familiars, etc can spend from their pool of Hero Points but do not take a turn of their own.
The normal restriction for spending Hero Points (1 per round per person) is maintained.
Each Card has either a choice of two rolls or a decision. If it is a roll card and neither of the two options are palatable, you may ask in OOC if you can use another skill, save, etc instead, albeit against a higher DC. You must explain and justify your alternative in your OOC post request.
Two Hero Points (from one or two PCs) can be spent at any time to grant the party a Zone of Lead.
Each turn lasts no longer than 24 real time hours.
You cannot gift or delay the use of a BONUS, it always affects the turn after it has been earned. However, you can Wager a BONUS. Once Wagered, the BONUS can no longer be used as normal. Instead, if another BONUS is earned before a PENALTY is earned, the Wagered BONUS and the newly earned BONUS can be spent to either swap two PCs in the turn order (neither can have already go this round) or to instantly gain one Lead. If, however, a PENALTY is earned first, the Wagered BONUS is lost.
The Chasing Flame consists of two areas: the Leading Edge and the Inferno
The Leading Edge effects the Heros at Lead 1 and 2. (maybe survivable)
The Inferno effects the Heros at Lead 0 to -3 (probably not survivable)
I’ve tweaked how the cards are presented to the group and the BONUS/PENALTY system to try to give the party more tactical control.
I’ve put a hard number to the number of Rounds you need to survive.
I’ve removed rewards and penalties giving extra cards for roll results.
I’ve added damage penalties to failing certain cards.
I’ve added skill/save check penalties for certain skills for failing certain cards
I’ll be ‘sigging’ your Current Lead, the current Round and the Up Ahead Pool every post to make it easier to stay aware of what’s going on.
Basically, I’m trying to add some urgency and agency by increasing options and adding danger. A possible issue I can foresee is that this has added new steps to each turn, which could slow things down, but I’m hoping the extra flexibility in tactics will be worth it.
Overall I found the level 1 experience pretty good I'd say. For the most part, the battles seemed pretty well-balanced to me as far as difficulty goes. The other challenges to overcome seemed to make sense. Curious pilgrims...
Best advice I have for now is to focus on one or the other, ranged or melee (specialization is key to be badass in D&D). Picking your combat style (and favored enemy, how did I miss that?) will be a big part of that- I would recommend, but do ignore me if you want, that you go with crossbow, archery, or underhanded (crossbow slightly more than the other two).
Though I would say, specialization for a preferred combat strategy, while very very helpful, doesn't mean it's not good to also have a backup plan of course. Alanus for example is significantly specialized for two-weapon melee fighting (even more so after the levelup), but having that backup weapon sling staff proved pretty handy this last battle. What I would say is, for the most part specialization is good, but if there are options for backup plans that don't involve sacrificing any of how the character is specializing, why not have them.
One thing emphasized in the last battle, was damage resistance. Damage resistance doesn't come up in all battles, but when it does it tends to be a big deal, and I find tends to reward having "alternate weapons" often times. When playing a bow-using character in the past, I had found it quite helpful to carry a variety of types of arrows. Of course, level 1 characters often have less resources for alternate weapons or damage types and such... I also think that sometimes, fleshing out a character's options this way can have some minor character development relevancy too.
Sorry, I was away for the long weekend. But wow, things have taken an, uhm, interesting turn of events...
My thoughts: All players have a style of play they prefer, and all GM's have a style of play they prefer to use. So some GM/player combinations will work better than others. Obviously this is one that works less well.
As for myself, this is my first RPG and I enjoyed all of it so far. I would be sad to see it end, but at the same time I don't want to play with other players who are not enjoying it anymore...