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Author Topic: Substantial House Rules; things I would like to do if I have time  (Read 1747 times)
blacksheepcannibal
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« on: May 08, 2012, 01:16:39 AM »

Part 1: Alter the current types of actions into the "standard-move-minor" action types and action economy; alter the current action economy into something more inline with that (meaning, remove "I have a pet and a henchmen so I have 6 half actions to deal with and keep track of every round, while other players have 2").

Part 2: Narrow the focus of generalist mages. Treat spell schools as focuses (the same way they are used with crafting and ride skills) for the Spellcasting skill.

Part 3: Alter the way saves are made, and how durations are tracked. Alter Saving throws to be static defenses (dragons attack reflex at a +15 instead of "make a DC 25 saving throw"). Durations are going to probably be "check at the beginning of your turn if you shake this off yet or not".

Part 4: Scaling NPC damage guidelines.

Part 5: Skill system simplification. Likely, each class will get a pick of a number of skills to more or less max out; multiclassing will have skills that you'll pick up as well if you don't already have them, but only a few core skills per class in such a fashion. This one is a little more wonky, and I'm not totally sure I'm going to implement it, but I'm probably going to try.

Part 6: Attempted integration of my chit-based "non-combat encounter" system.

The first two are going to be pretty draconian; I'll be re-writing/altering a very large portion of the game to work the first one in especially. I'm not sure if anybody will be interested how this will turn out, but it'll be awhile before I quite get all of this nailed down.

What do you guys think of all this? Yes, a large portion of it is coming as "things I like from other RPGs".
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« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2012, 01:32:49 AM »

What do you guys think of all this?

I'm not interested; however, I wish you the best.
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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2012, 01:39:14 AM »

Ludo and I are of the same mindset about your attempt.
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« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2012, 02:41:34 AM »

Broken down:

Part 1:  Not sure what you mean here.  My best guess is you mean change the existing 2x Half to a "Move" and a "Standard" (ala D&D 3.x)?  I hope not, but if so I'm against it entirely (and hated it in D&D with a passion).

Part 2:  Sounds like a reasonable enough campaign quality.  I've considered dividing Spellcasting into 8 seperate skills (Conjuring, Chanelling, etc), but having done more beyond vague considerations (and won't until Spellbound is out to see what I'm working with).

Part 3:  I've seen this in other RPGs, but never played it myself.  Some folks are big fans though, and it's really very easy to put into play (the group next to mine at a game store were doing this with Pathfinder).  May cause some weird interactions with Spells (and also as a byproduct make many spells impossible to "save against") depending on how you intend it to work within the FC ruleset.

Part 4: No idea what you mean by this.  NPC damage already scales for special attacks (and to some degree for natural attacks), and I can't see any reason at all why their weapon damage should scale artifically.

Part 5: Totally against this (but I also didn't like it in 4E D&D).  Many players already max out a handful and ignore the rest, but I can't see any reason why people who want to play generalists should be punished (which is what this comes down to).  Also the Sage will need to be adjusted (among other potential problems0.

Part 6:  Can't comment without seeing the system.  I'm also not sure what "chit-based" means.  I am a fan of well made non-combat systems though (Dramatic Conflicts from Spycraft are awesome), but really need a lot more info before I can make recommendations.

Either way, good luck - that's a pretty hefty set of changes to the core rules system, especially if you do it all at once.  Hopefully any of this is of value to you.
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« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2012, 05:42:28 AM »

Agreed with Sletchman's comments, largely.  

Part 1: Are you suggesting that the player has the choice of his character or an NPC under his character's control spending actions each round?  This would seem to need a major rework of the NPC feats to give other benefits (as, for instance, mounted combat does) to be worth having.

Part 2 seems the best of the bunch.  Here's a suggestion for how you could stat it out as a campaign quality:

Fractured magic (permanent): When a character gains his first rank in Spellcraft and for every 4 full ranks he gains in total, he learns 1 focus from the following list: Channeler, Conjuror, Enchanter, Preserver, Prophet, Reaper, Seer and Trickster.  All checks made to cast a spell of the corresponding school without the appropriate focus are untrained (see page 63).

(I went for "permanent" since this would affect how a character is built.)

With this campaign quality, a level 1-4 mage could cast spells of two schools as reliably as always, and cast spells of other schools that he knows with an increased error rate.  At level 5, it gets interesting, since you get level 2 spells coming in (whose DC exceeds the untrained cap of 15), but on the other hand, you get an extra focus.  And then another extra focus at 9, 13, and 17, ultimately giving you 6 out of the 8 schools.  (I know of no origin or feat that increases the max skill ranks cap on Spellcasting.)  Obviously this is a nerf; you'd want to avoid mixing it with other nerfing sorcery subqualities, and possibly want to consider adding something to balance it out.  (NB: if you mix this with Easy Magic, note that you lower the DC of level 2 and 3 spells below the cap of 15.)  And you could probably add Spellcasting feats designed to either mitigate the problems of not having focuses, or specifically boost your abilities for casting spells in schools for which you have a focus.  EG:

Eclectic Training (Spellcasting feat, requires fractured magic quality): You may take an additional focus for the spellcasting skill and increase the DC cap on your casting for spells for which you lack a focus by 5.

Thoroughly Eclectic Training (Spellcasting feat, requires Eclectic training): You may take a further additional focus for the spellcasting skill and decrease your error rate for all spellcasting checks by 1 (minimum 1).

(These seem a bit weak as feats, but I expect you get the idea).

EDIT: Two further thoughts.  1) You could also add an extra focus for the spellcasting skill as part of a homebrew Species, Talent, or Origin.  2) As with all spellcasting homebrew, we run the risk of doing something that Spellbound might already be set up for.

Part 3 has potential - a fast game is a good game, after all.  If implementing it, the defending player should have the option of spending an AD to add to their static save value, just as they would to their ordinary saving throw.  Still incomplete as a counter to the "impossible to save against" spells issue which Sletchman highlights, though.

Part 4: Need more information.

Part 5: Not keen on this.

Part 6: Need more information.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2012, 06:08:41 AM by paddyfool » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2012, 08:24:06 AM »

Part 1: I thought you didn't like 4e? Seriously, this is a major overhaul for what looks like negative benefit. You're talking about rewriting pretty much all of the combat chapter, most of the feats and skills chapter, and a good portion of the NPC and Class chapters to institute a 4e style bondage and discipline action economy. This also means that people who build non-combat NPCs get more out of the feats then those who build combat oriented ones.

Part 2: Have at it.

Part 3: I know a lot of folk like that. I don't understand why, but to each their own.

Part 4: Um... Just because 4e does so? Note that doing this will make high level combat much much more dangerous since critical hits will likely kill PCs in one shot.

Part 5: I honestly never got why people like this. If you find it simpler, you do that just by picking a number of skills equal to your ranks per level. Of course it gets wonky when your Int rises or if you multiclass. Otherwise, why penalize those players who want to spread their skill ranks around? It also sounds like you'll be scrapping Origin skills, reducing the number of skills each class has and generally screwing over the classes that aren't primarily skill monkeys.

Part 6: Care to elaborate?

Yeah, over all it looks exceedingly draconian. I know I wouldn't want to play the result. If I did I'd probably be playing 4e anyway.
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« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2012, 09:01:47 AM »

I guess I'll just pile on then.  I don't know why you would prefer standard/move/minor vs half/half.  What you want for mages will be largely duplicating spellbound, but I suppose it will have the advantage of getting to you sooner.  I get wanting to treat saves as DCs for an attack rather than bonuses for a roll, it can make things quicker and there's a certain consistency to it.  Damage scaling, meh; if PCs die, it shouldn't be because they lost a hit point attrition fight, and hit point attrition is why you would have damage scale.  What you're proposing for skills results in cookie cutter characters, and players who don't care about their skills at all, because they didn't have to think about them so they tend to forget it's even an option.  And like everyone else, I don't know what "chit-based non-combat encounter system" means.
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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2012, 09:49:48 AM »

1. I really love the full/half action system over the move/attack action system. I couldn't get rid of it. Are you planning on doing this to limit the number of actions of players who have control over NPCs? If you're coming from DnD you players might still be in the min/max mindset where they're trying to find the most OP builds and giving you a headache. I'd just limit their NPCs.

2. Spellbound is coming out and that will have specialized casters.

3. I've read about people doing this, with defense and saves. Never tried it.

4. This exists with natural attacks, and if you want to boost melee/ranged attack you can just add feats.

5. I kinda get this, if you want to go Explorer/Gallant or Emissary/Deadeye. I think it would be easier just to give Expert classes Continuity like Master classes.

6. I don't know what chits are, but a search leads me to think it's using tokens instead of dice rolls. Maybe you could expand a bit.

What I found about chits:
(click to show/hide)
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« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2012, 10:17:54 AM »

Part 1: Alter the current types of actions into the "standard-move-minor" action types and action economy; alter the current action economy into something more inline with that (meaning, remove "I have a pet and a henchmen so I have 6 half actions to deal with and keep track of every round, while other players have 2").

As others have mentioned, this is a major rewrite of large portions of the book.  That said, it's doable and if that's what you need to do to, go for it.  Let me list a few ideas you might think about.  I assume you don't want to ban controlled NPC's or restrict them to non combat roles.  I'm using followers as generic pets, PL's, and such.

0 ) Require a half action to command a single NPC or pack of identical standard NPC's.  Without commands they will give a flanking bonus if possible.

1) Simplify follower actions.  Restrict followers to either a double move, a move and attack, or two attacks.  This takes away the decision delay but nothing else.

2) Make followers act as a group.  If you have a pack of wolves, a PL, and an elemental, they attack the same thing.  Again, quicker decisions.

3) Treat them as damage over time effects.  When your dragon attacks, you might get a flanking bonus and he does 1d8 per round for his claw.  As a standard action you can command him to use his flame breath.

4) Move them off stage.  Add a squad of mooks for each follower and give the PC's the feeling of being outnumbered.  The followers can run around the battlefield taking out these extras without any need for resolution rolls.  Players can still command them for a standard action.

All of these options weaken the utility of combat followers for speed and simplicity but it should be manageable. There are certainly other ways to do it without the level of rebuild you'd need to do for a 4E style action breakdown.

Part 2: Narrow the focus of generalist mages. Treat spell schools as focuses (the same way they are used with crafting and ride skills) for the Spellcasting skill.

In this thread, Morgenstern laid out a way to design a theme based school.  There are some interesting ideas in that thread if you'd rather not go with standard conjuration/evocation schools.

Part 3: Alter the way saves are made, and how durations are tracked. Alter Saving throws to be static defenses (dragons attack reflex at a +15 instead of "make a DC 25 saving throw"). Durations are going to probably be "check at the beginning of your turn if you shake this off yet or not".

Saves scale at a slower rate than attack bonuses.  If you're going to do this, replace the saving throw progressions with the one from the Defense column i.e. a good save tops out around +16 or 18.

You'll need to decide how you'll handle spell attacks.  Mages use Int for spell checks and Cha for saves so will you subtract the int bonus and add the cha bonus for saves?  Maybe you could say that spells with saves use charisma for their spellcasting rolls.  If you eliminate one of the abilities the other will just inflate.  Maybe you can come up with something less awkward.

The shake off roll seems a bad idea to me because there are few spells that would use it and conditions already fade at the end of the scene.  Subdual and Stress damage both cause conditions.  Shaking them off seriously nerfs those damage types.

Part 4: Scaling NPC damage guidelines.

If you want to do this, let me recommend you buy NPC weapons as natural attacks.  An orc might have Longsword IV and Shield I.  Just like other attacks, even grades up the threat range, odd double then triple base damage.

Remember that PC damage doesn't scale and spells are far more limited by available spell points.

Part 5: Skill system simplification. Likely, each class will get a pick of a number of skills to more or less max out; multiclassing will have skills that you'll pick up as well if you don't already have them, but only a few core skills per class in such a fashion. This one is a little more wonky, and I'm not totally sure I'm going to implement it, but I'm probably going to try.

You could try a variant of Pathfinder's system.  Origin skills are always maxed.  At first level you pick skills from the class skill list equal to the number of skill points plus your int bonus and these are maxed. Origin options that grant a skill point per level instead give you an additional maxed skill as does the Talented feat.  Sage's core ability gives you that number of maxed skills.  If a skill isn't maxed, you are untrained and have a result cap of 15.  Well rounded removes that cap.

Part 6: Attempted integration of my chit-based "non-combat encounter" system.

The first two are going to be pretty draconian; I'll be re-writing/altering a very large portion of the game to work the first one in especially. I'm not sure if anybody will be interested how this will turn out, but it'll be awhile before I quite get all of this nailed down.

What do you guys think of all this? Yes, a large portion of it is coming as "things I like from other RPGs".

Post your chit based system in its own thread.  Many of my postings have turned out to be based on bullchit so I may be able to help  Grin

Remember that this is a company board for an RPG that is seen as an alternative to those other RPG's and expect some defensiveness, some of it justified, when you start roasting our sacred cows.
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blacksheepcannibal
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« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2012, 11:00:54 AM »

Part 1: The idea is for every character to share equal "table time". You have player 1, a multi-class warlord/lancer with a mount and a right-hand man. Maybe he even uses two-weapon fighting. So he makes his first attack, hits, rolls damage, second attack with a maneuver, hits, rolls damage, opponent has to roll save, he then moves; his mount makes it's move and attacks, misses. His right hand man uses an attack with a trick, misses.
Then you have player 2, a priest. Who casts Cure Wounds III to save another player. Rolls good. His turn is done.
This part doesn't seem like a terribly difficult fix - have it so it uses an action to command an NPC; there will be some items that need to be altered, but it doesn't quite seem draconian.
Altering the action economy into the standard-move-minor would be as much a clarification as anything else; it also tends to help sort out what actions you can do in your head, again increasing the speed that you can move around the table. I've honestly thought about making it "half/half (or full) and then a single swift action; I'd simply have to pick out the items in the book I want a swift action to be. Generally speaking tho, there are simply things that I want a player to do that doesn't take a half his actions in a turn, but isn't a free action either; saying "you can only take that free action once" seems arbitrary and while I have no problem with GM rulings like that, I prefer for the player to be able to see that kind of thing when he makes that choice during character creation, not at the table after initiative has been rolled.

Part 2: Mostly this is a "place keeper" rule until Spellbound comes out (which I am certainly looking forward to!).

Part 3: I don't see how this could make a spell impossible to save against? Currently, you have an NPC cast "ouchpewpew" at a character; the DC against his saving throw is 15. The player makes a Saving throw, with their +6 reflex save. They must roll a d20 and get a 9 or higher. Altered, the NPC makes an attack at +6 (dc -9) against a reflex defense of 15 (9+save bonus); they must roll a 9 or higher to hit.
The hard part of this comes with items like "you are discombobulated, make a fort save every round to see if your head clears". I think I might have a way of handling that, but I'm working on it at the moment - it'll likely be just a "roll d20, higher than 10 means you cleared it off" with some ad hoc modifiers, but it might instead be an ability check with a low DC.

Part 4: This is the one I am most hung up on; I'm not sure if it works as written as intended, or if I am missing something, or what. It seems as a player levels up, their DR and Vitality increase significantly; while a goblin with a base XP of 55 keeps the same damage at level 13 as they did at level 3. Am I missing something? It seems like as a group levels up, you have to either use higher base xp NPCs to challenge them, or more NPCs - significantly more. A t-rex always does 2d12+5 lethal with a bite, no matter if that T-rex is threat level 2 or threat level 20.

Part 5: I'm likely going to make this an option; honestly, when I make a character I tend to max out 3/4 of the skills I want, then "dabble" the rest of my skill points around into "what if" skills. Perhaps that's just me, and I realize that focus skills base the number of focii upon skill ranks; I'm sketchy about this idea, but I wanted to see if it would work - some of my players aren't keen on micromanaging skill aptitude, and I can understand that.

Part 6: This should honestly link to another post; more or less, it turns a non-combat encounter into a sort of "mini-game" that can be customized to the situation. There are 3 major parts to it.
For one - you determine how many chits (tokens, we use poker chips) the player starts out the encounter with, as well as how many the GM starts with. Generally, this is set to "one for each player, one for the GM for each player" but can be altered based upon situation.
For two - you determine which skills can be used; you don't lock these in, if a player comes up with something clever, that's great. Some of these skills can be used to "bet" chits, usually with a limit of 3 chits. Some of these skills come with a chit cost in order to alter the "playing field", either opening up other skills to be used or giving a bonus to other skills or players permanently or temporarily. Some of these skills can be used to trade chits, with a limit of a player only getting 1 traded chit each round. Some of these skills are rolled by everybody on the GM's turn; a failure gives the GM a chit, a success may either cost the GM chits or simply get the player by that round.
For three - you determine the ending result; generally this means the players can "buy" their success in the encounter at any time with a certain number of chits; alternately, the GM can "buy" their failure with a certain number of chits as well. Other options include "you can end this at any time, and cash in your chits for a number of (insert things the player wants to get with this encounter here).

I'm sure that's all very confusing, and hard to figure out, so I'll give an example.
Situation: The players have just woken up on the beach of a strange island. They need to make a base camp, set up supplies, and make it so that they can survive before they start wandering into the jungle all crazy like with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
Set up: Each player receives 1 chit; the GM receives 1 chit per player in the group.
Skills: Survival is the primary "betting" skill; a player may bet up to 3 chits to gain 1 chit plus as many bonus ones as they bet on a success, with a failure, those betted chits are instead lost.
At a cost of 1 chit, any player may make a Search check to grant another player or themselves a +2 bonus to their next roll.
An Athletics check can be made without betting a chit to gain a chit.
A Medicine check can be made to grant another player a chit, with a limit of each player only gaining 1 chit a turn in this fashion.
On the GM's turn, each player must succeed either a survival or a resolve check or pay the GM a chit.
Any player may make a Crafting check and spend up to 5 chits; if they fail, these chits are lost but if they succeed, they count towards making an Island House which requires 10 chits; once completed, the Island House grants a +4 bonus to all remaining checks.
(The GM can spend 10 chits for a massive storm to happen, taking 3 chits away from each player and 3 chits away from the Island House).
Each Round represents one day on the island.
Success: The players must have 5 chits per player, upon success they have a constant source of food, shelter, and clean fresh water that they may use to resupply with.

This was a pretty simple one, to introduce the players to the system. There were no grave consequences, but if I wanted to be mean, I could easily have let the GM spend chits to make a player sick, cause critters to attack the camp, or have the GM buy the player's failure and be unable to have a base camp at that location, requiring some searching and exploring under harsh conditions to find another good location. Bear in mind I am not trying to make any skill rolls cut and dry; nor am I trying to prevent creative use of skills anymore than the combat rules keep a player from being creative in combat; I am simply trying to grant a framework or rules system for the players to understand the consequences, good and bad, of their actions as they progress through a non-combat encounter. It worked outstandingly! For once, I had a non-combat encounter that the players were talking through tactically, trying to work off of each other's strengths and weaknesses, and figuring out what to do, instead of "well I make a check. Do I make it or not?" - which is how this sort of thing went previously.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2012, 11:47:56 AM by blacksheepcannibal » Logged
blacksheepcannibal
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« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2012, 11:07:55 AM »

Remember that this is a company board for an RPG that is seen as an alternative to those other RPG's and expect some defensiveness, some of it justified, when you start roasting our sacred cows.

Well understood; I'm not here to rattle cages or offend people, I'm simply looking at tweaking the (very good game) that I have discovered to suit my (and my table's) own particular tastes. I had assumed it went without saying that I enjoy FC enough that I would rather make modifications to it, rather than simply steal ideas from it to use in other RPGs.

I like the idea of using NPC natural attacks as weapon attacks; thanks a ton for that idea, and it seems to solve my problem very nicely with minimal fuss.

The Pathfinder system is more or less exactly what I intended to do; the problem comes when multiclassing with another class that has fewer (or more) skill points than the first class; I figured having "core aptitude skills" for each class that would be granted upon multiclassing; for instance, a soldier would start with maybe "athletics or resolve plus 3 others" but multiclassing into soldier would grant "athletics or resolve" as maxed skills; alternately burglar would be "prestidigitation and either acrobatics or bluff plus 6 others" while multiclassing would be "prestidigitation and either acrobatics or bluff". Of course, if you already have those skills, and maxed, no effect.
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« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2012, 11:16:24 AM »

If you think PC stuff scales too fast wouldn't it be simpler to reduce that scaling?
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blacksheepcannibal
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« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2012, 11:18:02 AM »

If you think PC stuff scales too fast wouldn't it be simpler to reduce that scaling?
By reducing how often/much they gain vitality?
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« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2012, 11:35:38 AM »

I know there's a campaign quality for that.  You could try plugging in the math you used to decide you wanted less scaling and see if it's good.  Or maybe it could start you out.

(Sorry if it's not that helpful: I'm not very good at this part of design.)
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« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2012, 12:00:52 PM »

Part 1: The idea is for every character to share equal "table time". You have player 1, a multi-class warlord with a mount and a right-hand man. Maybe he even uses two-weapon fighting. So he makes his first attack, hits, rolls damage, second attack with a maneuver, hits, rolls damage, opponent has to roll save, he then moves; his mount makes it's move and attacks, misses. His right hand man uses an attack with a trick, misses.
Then you have player 2, a priest. Who casts Cure Wounds III to save another player. Rolls good. His turn is done.
This part doesn't seem like a terribly difficult fix - have it so it uses an action to command an NPC; there will be some items that need to be altered, but it doesn't quite seem draconian.

Why are you trying to rip the combat system apart to replace it with 4e's "everyone must be equally effective" balance concept rather then fix what you don't like about 4e's other systems? Or just ban taking more then one NPC feat. Of course then you'll have to deal people training animals or purchasing horses or whatever.

4e's concept of "you must spend actions for your NPCs to do anything" only makes sense as a game. If you really want the guy with a PL and an AP to spend less time running them in combat, run them yourself as the GM.

Honestly, PC controlled NPCs are not a big deal. They really aren't. I run a table of six players with three feat based NPCs and one purchased animal. Not an issue. Part of it is that the NPCs get their own initiative roll. Part of it is that 4e's "everyone must be awesome at everything they do" mantra drove my entire gaming circle from D&D.

Face time at the table is not a function of the action economy. It's a function of the players. Both from a knowing what they want to do ahead of time perspective, and from a hamming it up and grabbing the spotlight perspective.

Altering the action economy into the standard-move-minor would be as much a clarification as anything else; it also tends to help sort out what actions you can do in your head, again increasing the speed that you can move around the table. I've honestly thought about making it "half/half (or full) and then a single swift action; I'd simply have to pick out the items in the book I want a swift action to be. Generally speaking tho, there are simply things that I want a player to do that doesn't take a half his actions in a turn, but isn't a free action either; saying "you can only take that free action once" seems arbitrary and while I have no problem with GM rulings like that, I prefer for the player to be able to see that kind of thing when he makes that choice during character creation, not at the table after initiative has been rolled.

Wait, reclassifying it to go back to the 3.X or to the 4e version is simpler then you get two half actions or one full action plus as many free actions as the GM allows is simpler? Honestly, the game is built around the GM making calls on the fly. Embrace it and cast off the chains of 4e my brother.

Part 4: This is the one I am most hung up on; I'm not sure if it works as written as intended, or if I am missing something, or what. It seems as a player levels up, their DR and Vitality increase significantly; while a goblin with a base XP of 55 keeps the same damage at level 13 as they did at level 3. Am I missing something? It seems like as a group levels up, you have to either use higher base xp NPCs to challenge them, or more NPCs - significantly more. A t-rex always does 2d12+5 lethal with a bite, no matter if that T-rex is threat level 2 or threat level 20.

It works. DR doesn't go up much at all. The Goblin's Vitality or Health save goes up significantly but the player's damage doesn't go up nearly as much. The NPC system is built with the assumption that the PCs grow faster then NPCs. If they start really outstripping things you just fiddle with the NPCs, on the fly if needed. Or use Fragile Heroes which cuts the PCs vitality in half.

Part 6: <snip>

Honestly, whatever works for you, but my players would revolt at the idea. We just run complex tasks and such as the book describes them and haven't had an issue. Probably a bit of a player issue here, to be honest.
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We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming. - Werner von Braun
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There's no upside in screwing with things you can't explain. - Captain Roy Montgomery
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