Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Progress on Lost Songs of the Nibelungs (introducing Fractional Quality Points)

Still working on LSotN like a maniac here. It's lots of different construction sites right now, but I believe I'm beginning to see the light. It's just a lot behind the scenes (or mostly fermenting in my brain ...). I'll produce an updated version of the Reference Sheet and some typographical ideas this weekend and hope to give those interested a better scheme how all the parts interact and what it'll look like. I'm still aiming to have a playable beta-version till Easter.

Fractional Quality Points

One idea of this whole project is to streamline some of my house rules and give them a new home. One of my favorites is a rule I ported some time ago from the HackMaster 4E* to the D&D Rules Cyclopedia: the Fractional Ability Score (follow the link for more details ...).

The basic idea here is to allow characters a partial increase of their ability scores per level. Every ability score would have a die associated to it, the scale was determined by class. Once those fractional points reach 100, the ability goes up one point and the counting starts anew.

It's a neat little twist in that it gives players just a little something but to a great effect. My players loved that rule and there was always some tension when a player rolled to see if he'd make a big jump or even rolls enough to crack a threshold or two.**

I want something like this in Lost Songs of the Nibelungs. For one, permanent damage to qualities will be something that might happen every once in a while (if a quality drops below zero, the amount of negative damage can't be regenerated) and an opportunity to get a point or two back this way seems like a nice mechanic to make that happen with time (questing will be another way to regenerate those, but it sure won't come easy).

How it works

With character creation a player may roll 1d100 for every quality and note the result. Coming up with 100 doesn't mean an automatic upgrade, as only anything beyond the threshold triggers that. The increase per level is focused on the choices a player makes when advancing:
  • Primary Core Quality: add 2d10 to the fractional quality score of the chosen quality.
  • Core Qualities: add 2d8 to the fractional quality score of the chosen qualities.
  • Quality: add 1d8 to the fractional quality score of those qualities not chosen as core.
Echo applies, so rolling the highest possible result with a die allows to roll the next lower die and add the result (chain of command: d20 - d12 - d10 - d8 - d6 - d4).

Expect more of this next weekend ...

That's it so far for the qualities. Next up is making it (this part at least) as complete and concise as possible. Combat will be next after that, but it's obviously a big one. Anyway, that's next week. For now I'll close shop and share with you another beautiful illustration of some Nibelungs up to no good:

Hagen von Tronje proposing to kill Siegfried ...
(art by Arthur Rackham, 1911) [source]
"O wife betrayed / I will avenge / Thy trust deceived"

*Arguably nothing on HackMaster is really new, but instead an interpretation of the rules that already existed in AD&D. I know HackMaster, so this is my point of reference. As far as I know the idea (or something very similar) originated in the AD&D Unearthed Arcana ...
**Just as a side note for the D&D version: it also allows for some some permanent ability damage that is felt, but not too harsh on the players.


  1. Sounds cool, and I have a question.
    If two characters or a character and some other force n the game are facing off and they both are evenly matched in their acting quality points, what advantage would one get over the other for having higher fractional value?

  2. Good question! Had some time to think about it and decided it should only be part of the advancement. Qualities are already pretty loaded with several subsystems, dividing this further would be too much, I think. When I get to build a character sheet, I'll put this where the xp are collected and not with the main part where the qualities are. Would be too much otherwise. In D&D, on the other hand, I did use it as an advantage just like you proposed (didn't come up very often, though).


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