I have a bone to pick with you, Mr. Character Sheet.
Your attempts to make things “easier” and “accessible” have left me with a constant frustration at our table. You’ve dumbed things down so far as to completely break any attempt to swim against the stream. Customizable? Hardly. You sir, have betrayed the very players you swore to aid!
Of course, what I’m actually talking about is the way that the Dungeons & Dragons character sheet automatically assumes that you should fill in the appropriate ability score modifiers with the skills they “go with”. Bah. I scoff at you, Sir Sheet. I use the very rules laid out in the Player’s Handbook that state – AND I QUOTE!
In some situations, though, your proficiency might reasonably apply to a different kind of check. In such cases, the DM might ask for a check using an unusual combination of ability and skill, or you might ask your DM if you can apply a proficiency to a different check. For example, if you have to swim from an offshore island to the mainland, your DM might call for a Constitution check to see if you have the stamina to make it that far. In this case, your DM might allow you to apply your proficiency in Athletics and ask for a Constitution (Athletics) check.Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Player’s Handbook
How then am I supposed to accomplish that easily when every player at the table immediately stares at the big glaring number next to the word Athletics and murmurs out a series of monosyllabic grunts that could only be interpreted as, “Well that’s what I use right?” Instead, I – their benevolent god of all – have to halt the game that I have crafted with these two hands of untold power for their amusement to explain that no, simple ignorant player of meat and bone, if you have proficiency with Athletics, you can add your Proficiency bonus to a Constitution check. Then attempt to reascend my throne of conjured creativity to wrangle these blind and deaf cats to the next plot point before one of them opens their steaming word hole to unleash another question that they would know the answer to if only they had pried open that holiest of tomes that they spent half a c-note on and actually read something in it.
How about a proposal, if you will, to hide the ‘default skills’ and just show that big dot that shows you have Proficiency with the skill. Indeed, we can clean things up significantly by putting Skills & Saves in a single column (first Saves, then Skills) and just a dot next to them to indicate whether to add the proficiency bonus to them. You could put the box that indicates their current Proficiency Bonus right at the top of the column. Just give it a quick scan and see if you add the number at the top to your Ability Check.
I don’t think this approach is unreasonable. Not in the slightest. In every adventure, on every monster block, and indeed any part of any published text will always frame the check as such: [Ability Modifier to Add to Roll] (Skill to Add Proficiency With) [Difficulty Check Number]. So really there wouldn’t ever be a need in that format to remember what skill goes with what ability score. If you really need to remember on the fly, Dungeon Master Screens and various other shortcut cheat sheets for the Dungeon Master can readily have that information available for reference. The only possible way this would be difficult is if you were completely illiterate and are still learning what colors are and which shapes going in the different holes. In that case, 4th Edition is over there.
At the core of it, I’d like to draw attention that these are called “Ability Checks” in both the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Not “Skill Checks” – which was the nomenclature of previous editions. Shouldn’t the focus be on making a check with your ABILITY SCORE and then getting a bonus based on your training. If you wanted the focus to be on Skills then why didn’t you call them Skill Checks as was the standard until this very edition? Do you hate the written word so much at the Wizards of the Coast that you wish to destroy the already unstable foundation that our modern English shakily stands on like a chihuahua trapped in a wind tunnel?
Defaulting assigning a specific numeric value to the Skill on the character sheet will cause the player to associate that number and that number alone with that skill. For example, if the player had a great strength score and decided for some reason to make constitution their dump stat, then using the example above would be akin in their mind to driving over their first born in a pick up truck. You have robbed them of a potential 20% increase in their chances to succeed and believe me when they are muttering to themselves in the late of night while sharpening the very blade that is destined for your poor dungeon master throat – you will regret the false hope that Mr. Character Sheet gave to your player.
So really what I’m saying is maybe a few more options for character sheets set at the campaign level in D&D Beyond.
Oh, and uh. One final note here. This is all just for fun. The Character sheet thing is a pet peeve of mine that I figured I’d have a bit of a laugh at making a big hyperbolic argument about it. However, the internet is a place where sarcasm and humor is sometimes very easily missed so I wanted to place this little disclaimer here at the bottom before everyone got their blood boiling. No, I don’t think this is a serious issue. Yes, I would love more options for character sheet layouts on digital tools. No, I don’t hate D&D 5e. I don’t hate D&D 4e. In fact, 4e has a very fond place in my heart. Do not worry, this was just hear to be a bit of silly-angry-rant-fun. Hope you had a giggle. – Vry
b.def <= (Math.randomInt(20) + 1 + (Math.floor((MOD – 10)/2)) + (Math.floor(a.level/2))) ? Math.random(X*Y) + 1 + (Math.floor((a.atk – 10)/2)) : 0;
Substitute MOD for a.atk or a.mat or whatever parameter you want to use for the attack. Substitute X for the number of dice. Substitute Y for the dice size (4,6,8,10,12,20).
Something I’ve often toyed with aside from my own game FateStone was the idea of re-creating a Dungeons & Dragons campaign in something like RPG Maker. Seems easy right? You’ve got dungeons, monsters, characters all there and ready to go! However, the big hurdle is quite simply that the way combat works does not overlap. Like at all. RPG Maker’s combat calculations are more inspired by Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest than anything you’d find in a Pen & Paper RPG tome. So I recently put my mind to work on figuring out how exactly you would be able to bring a d20 or D&D Style of combat to a RPG Maker game.
Now take in mind that this is a very basic version of what I started working with. While I have started working on versions to incorporate all the different D&D ability scores, I haven’t hammered out all the nitty gritty of using them. So for now I strictly went for Attack Roll (Attack) vs AC (Defense) and Spell Attack (Magic Attack) vs Saving Throw (Magic Defense).
First is the dice roll:
1dX = Math.randomInt(X)+1
YdX = Math.randomInt((X*Y), Y) + 1
For the YdX formula, it’s important to note that you’ll be setting the range of the random numbers, when it says X*Y you should replace that with the actual value of X * Y. In other words, for 3d6 don’t put (6 * 3) just put (18). These formulas will be used for everything from determining the attack to the damage, so they are pretty much the cornerstone of this whole thing. But another important one would be how to you get the Ability Modifier from the Ability Score. For that you’ll want to use the following calculation:
Math.Floor((A – 10)/2) = M
A = Ability Score. M = Ability Modifier.
In simple terms, you subtract 10 from the Score, divide that by 2 and round down (because you always round down in D&D) and that will give you the modifier. So an Attack (Strength) of 14 would result in a modifier of 2.
So how would this work for an actual skill? Well, let’s take a look at one. First, you’ll want to set the Skill in RPG Maker to be a ‘Certain Hit’. We are just going to skip the whole Accuracy/Evade cycle of the attack in favor of our own math. Then our damage formula will look something like this:
If (b.def <= (Math.randomInt(20) + 1 + (Math.Floor((a.atk – 10)/2) + (Math.Floor(a.lvl / 2)) )) Math.random((X*Y), X) + 1 + (MOD – Math.Floor(a.level/2)); else 0
Kind of crazy, right? Let’s break it down.
If (b.def <=: This First bit is essentially starting an ‘If-then’ clause that says if the following math results in something equal to or higher than our target’s defense (AC).
(Math.randomInt(20) + 1: This is our d20 roll.
+ (Math.Floor((a.atk – 10)/2): This is adding our attack modifier
+ (Math.Floor(a.lvl / 2)) )): This adds half our level to the math and finishes our If condition. So it’s a random number between 1-20, plus the modifier, plus half our level.
Math.random((X*Y), X) + 1 + (Math.Floor((a.atk – 10)/2)); This part is our damage calculation. Essentially, do this much damage (a random XdY dice amount) plus our Attack modifier damage.
else 0 And if the math DIDN’T equal or beat the Target’s Defense(AC), then deal zero damage due to it being a miss.
To summarize, the formula is basically:
If (Target AC) <= 1d20 + Attack Modifier + Half Level; Deal XdY + Attack Modifier damage; else deal no damage.
Naturally, you can probably imagine how this basic formula can be applied to a lot of different things. It forms the basic idea for skill checks, saving throws, and pretty much any Difficulty Check based roll. You could replace the target defense with a d20 roll on the enemy side as well and have an opposed check.
As I said at the top, this isn’t perfect. It doesn’t quite yet take into account D&D’s Ability Scores, which I’m still working on. Mostly just stuck on thinking of a way to make the Target Defense side of things work when b.def would simply be their Constitution score or something.
If I ever figure out a good solution to it, I will let you know.
In the mean time, you might find the following plug ins for RPG Maker MV to be handy when it comes to recreating the D&D experience:
Yanfly’s Weapon Unleash: Allows you to reassign a different attack skill to different weapons, thus being able to give daggers a different damage formula than a great axe.
Yanfly’s Limited Skill Usages: For those interested in bringing D&D 4th Edition’s system of At-Will, Encounter and Daily abilities to the game, this plugin can help. However, you might want to create a common event for sleeping that gets called when using an item like ‘Camping Set’ or something to reset the Daily uses.
So a while back I made a post detailing my “Injury System” for Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. It was roughly modeled after the Dragon Age: Origins injuries but without all the unruly book keeping that came with the ups and downs of temporarily changing ability scores. Well, now a new edition of the game is upon us and I figured why the heck not update that old chart for the newest edition of the game. It’s something to work with right? While the new Dungeon Master’s Guide DOES have an Injury chart, it feels a bit severe and well – permanent – than some of my injuries. My injuries are things you see happening to inconvenience someone that they would sustain in a fight. The official table in the book is like… OH BAHAMUT YOU ARE #$%&ED UP! I mean, losing body parts? Yeuch! So here’s MY chart:
|Roll||Result||Normal Effect||Complicated Effect|
|1||Injured Arm||Disadvantage on Strength Checks & Saves||Disadvantage on Strength checks & saves. Disadvantage on Melee & Ranged attack rolls.|
|2||Injured Leg||Disadvantage on Dexterity Checks & Saves. Speed reduced by 5 feet.||Disadvantage on Dexterity check & saves. Speed reduced by 15 feet.|
|3||Cracked Skull||Disadvantage on Wisdom and Intelligence Checks & Saves||Disadvantage on Wisdom and Intelligence rolls. Including spell attack rolls. Can’t use spells that use concentration.|
|4||Cracked Rib||Disadvantage on Constitution Checks & Saves.||Disadvantage on Constitution rolls. Vulnerable to Piercing, Slashing, and Bludgeoning damage.|
|5||Stomach Wound||No CON modifier when you roll hit dice.||No CON modifier when you roll hit dice. Hit dice roll is halved (round down.)|
|6||No Injury Sustained|
As before, falling unconscious will result in one injury from the normal effect column (unless they roll a 6.) This injury can be treated in a town or city (DM Tip: feel free to charge a physician’s fee, or have a doctor ask a favor for treatment. Great story hook!) or by a DC 15 Wisdom (Medicine) check in the field and outside of combat. However, if the players opt for the Wisdom (Medicine) check, a failure will result in the injury becoming complicated, and become the corresponded complicated effect. A complicated injury MUST be treated in a town or city.
There’s also an alternate rule with these that I came up with after playing some test games of 5th edition and found that especially at low level things can be particularly deadly for players. I’m sure that’s great for a lot of DMs and Players out there. Lethal, deadly, and risky – Yay. Yea, that’s how a dungeon crawl SHOULD be. But for me? I prefer a good story. So do my players. So having characters drop like flies isn’t exactly a great feature for me and mine. So I also added this:
Alternate Death Rules: In the event that a character dies (by failing 3 death saves or taking lethal damage) they can try to be resuscitated after combat is over. By making a Wisdom (Medicine) check with a DC 20, they can be brought back from the brink but automatically sustain 2 complicated injuries. Roll against the injury chart above with 2d6 instead of 1. The PC will sustain both injuries. If one of the dice is a 6, reroll it until you get a 1-5. If BOTH dice end up being rolled as 6s, then the PC has complications during the resuscitation and dies permanently.
Naturally you can play around with these making them worse or easier by switching around the DCs. Like a DC 10 to treat an injury and a DC 15 to resuscitate using those alternate dying rules. Or crank them up with you wanna get edgy with it.
There’s a bit of a running joke in our D&D group. See in 4th Edition, The Chained God Tharizdun, is kind of portrayed as the long lost evil deity whose name has been lost to the ages because he was imprisoned at the dawn of time. His true name is rarely if ever spoken, and most don’t even know he exists. However, he is described as having “a few scattered cults of demented followers”. Needless to say, while we were all shooting the breeze about stuff like the Dawn War, the difference between Devils and Demons, and various other lore related topics during a game a few weeks back, I couldn’t help but burst out laughing when the following image popped into my head. It was too perfect. Why didn’t see it before?