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 Ravenloft: Rules

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PostSubject: Ravenloft: Rules   Ravenloft: Rules EmptyFri Sep 23, 2011 10:51 pm

This part of the Ravenloft forum will be for me to put up the important rules that set Ravenloft apart from the rest of the multi-verse. Within the next couple of weeks I will discuss fear, horror, and madness checks. I will also explore the dreaded power checks. I will not fill the forum with all of the other rules, and I plan to put up some stuff on the RPGC about Ravenloft specific stuff, but most of that will concern only native characters to Ravenloft, and none of the PCs are native (except Nadril).

So expect to see information about fear checks soon.

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Posts : 1938
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Ravenloft: Rules Empty
PostSubject: Rules for Fear Checks   Ravenloft: Rules EmptyFri Nov 25, 2011 1:03 am

Rules for Fear Checks

What is a Fear Check?
Fear is a part of any campaign setting, magical and psychological. In Ravenloft, however, fear is a force. You could say that it is more alive in Ravenloft than in anywhere else in the multi-verse. You could even say that the Dark Powers, if such powers exist, or the land pulls out the fear in the natives and visitors to the Demiplane of Dread. This tends to exaggerate feelings of fear within adventurers, forcing the mechanics of fear checks.

Fear checks are called for when situations of intense fear happen in a roleplaying or combat situation. Unfortunately, fear checks are usually called for during battle and not always at the onset, but somewhere in the middle. Confident characters can have their confidence shattered when they prepare for a battle against a certain foe and the characters' strategy fails. This is usually the case for high level characters. Low to mid-level characters have not been tested against many supernatural foes, so fear may be more immediate at the onset of a battle.

Rolling a Fear Check
When a fear check is called by the DM, the player will roll a d20 as if they were making a Will save. The base DC for a fear check is 10 with modifiers either raising or lowering the DC. I will post the DC and the modifiers that I used to calculate it. These modifiers can also help those players who rather attempt to roleplay the fear checks rather than enslave their characters to die rolls (more on this later).

Fear Check Triggers
These are general triggers that can invoke fear checks, roleplaying, environment, and combat triggers.

Roleplaying triggers include whether a character is portrayed as confident, hesitant, or frightened when entering a stressful situation. A confident character need not make a fear check as long as nothing happens that should shaken the character's confidence. A hesitant or frightened character will be called to make a fear check when their fears are realized, especially if no one else in the party tries to boost their comrade's morale.
A special not here: a Paladin, who is immune to fear, should always be played as confident. A Paladin that is not roleplayed as confident in an intense situation means something is shaking the foundation of the character's faith. That can actually call for a horror check (which a paladin is not immune to). So roleplay your paladins correctly.

Environment triggers are simply the strange, macabre settings that characters eventually travel to. While the environment may not ask for a fear check, surprises in the environment, like horrible traps that severely harm characters or characters that find themselves suddenly alone, would call for fear checks. Some places are so vile that fear checks would be called on just for spotting the places: Vecna's skull fortress Cavitius is a good example, the undead city of Il Aluk is another.

Combat triggers are probably the most common fear checks to be made. Ambushes by supernatural creatures can invoke fear. Also when combat goes sour, especially if characters felt well-prepared, would invoke fear checks. Learning that the bandit leader is actually a vampire and the team is unprepared for such a fight is indeed a call for a fear check. Tricking a vampire into the sunlight and realizing the vampire is unhindered by the sun, also calls for a fear check.

Fear Check Modifiers
These are the adjustments to the base DC of 15 for a fear check. Remember a fear check is a Will save.
-4 to DC: Party possesses equipment or knowledge that has proven effective against this threat.
-2 to DC: Party possesses equipment or knowledge which is believed to be effective against this threat.
-4 to DC: A relative or fellow player character is endangered (other PC must be helpless or unable to defend themselves)
-2 to DC: A friend or ally is endangered.
-1 to DC: An innocent is endangered.
-2 to DC: The party/character has faced and defeated a similar threat in the last 24 hours
-1 to DC: The party/character has faced and defeared a similar threat in the past (longer than 24 hours)
+2 to DC: Character/party has faced and been defeated by a similar threat in the last 24 hours.
+1 to DC: Character/party has faced and been defeated by a similar threat in the past (longer than 24 hours)
+4 to DC: Character is isolated and unable to call for help (stay together, people)
+4 to DC: Foe is immune to all attacks from party/character
+4 to DC: Foe kills a character with one single attack.
+/- to DC: If there is an opponent, the opponents Charisma modifier

This list may not be exhaustive. There could be other modifiers added as I see fit.

Effects of Failure
When a fear check is failed, the DM rolls a 1d6 and consult the table and modifiers below to decide on the character's fate.

Failed Fear Checks (1d6)
1) Fumble: Character jumps back in fear and drops whatever they were carrying, fragile items can break
2) Gape: Character stands paralyzed for the entire round unless physically moved by comrades. Loses Dex/Dodge/Insight bonuses to AC; opponent receives a +2 to hit character
3) Scream: Character screams at the top of their lungs and jumps back forfeiting any action this round (although character is still able to retain all bonuses to AC)
4) Stagger: Character staggers back and falls. Character drops all items in his hands and most spend a round to stand back up and recover gear. Fragile items can break. While on the ground, a character is considered prone.
5) Hide: Character looks for the nearest place to hide. If there is not a hiding place another fear check is called. If second check is failed the character faints, if the check is successful the character flees (see below for these conditions). A character with a Hide skill can use this skill but does at half of the skill's bonus. Effect lasts for 10 minutes.
6) Flee: The character flees by the quickest route possible. The character is unable to retreat in a logical manner, but will normally attempt to escape from the direction the character came, if possible. Effect lasts for 10 minutes.
7) Faint: Character is overcome with the situation and falls to the ground, unconscious. Effect lasts 10 minutes.
8 ) Horror: The character is so overcome with the situation that the character is now horrified and the DM rolls on the failed horror check table
9) Madness: The character is so overcome with fear that the character's mind snaps and the DM rolls on the failed madness check.
10) Death: The character's body is so overloaded with fear that their heart actually stops. A Fort save is required (DC is equal fear check). Failure results in the character's death. Success means the character loses 1 point to Con (temporary) and their hit points are dropped to zero and the character is considered to be hovering at death's door.

Modifiers to Fear Failure Roll (these modifiers are added to the 1d6 roll if they apply)
+1 Character is alone
+1 Character is a spellcaster/manifester with fewer than half of his spells remaining (paladins, rangers, psychic warriors, and othjer more martial characters not included).
+1 Character has lost more than half of his maximum hit points.
+1 Character has failed a fear, horror, or madness check within the last twenty-four hours.

Roleplaying Fear Checks
Now the above effects may seem unfair for a group of adventurers. The rules are meant to be quite terrible. I prefer players that roleplay fear checks rather than being at the mercy of the dice, but I need rules for those who do not wish to roleplay fear. Also, these effects can give players ideas on how to play. In fact, players who roleplay fear checks and their ability to overcome the fear, can avoid the negative game effects and gain roleplaying Xp.
In order to properly roleplay fear checks, I will ask for fear checks when the situation is called. The player will then roll the Will saves to see whether the mechanics say whether the character succeeds or fails. For a player who wishes to roleplay fear can do so at this point, on their post where they post the result of the fear check. The player does not need to follow the results above (such as running away for 10 minutes), but can show how the character feels fright, the personal effect on the character, and how the character can overcome it. The character would still be able to act normally in the round as long as the roleplaying is sufficient. What I do not want is someone to say that their character screams or jumps back or, even worse, is scared. We must be more descriptive than that. Show me, don't tell me.
If I find the roleplaying to be insufficient I will roll the d6 and will take the result as the game says it should be.

Racial Modifiers to Fear Checks
While this information belongs in another post, or a file on the RPGC there are some important considerations I must make here for character creation.

Native characters from the Manifest area and the peninsula receive a +4 bonus on fear checks against incorporeal undead. They live with ghosts, spectral undead do not invoke the same fear.

Native ghost characters from Manifest receive a +8 bonus to fear checks against incorporeal undead. I'm a ghost too, dumbass!

Native planars receive a +4 to ALL fear checks. Planars have seen more than any other character from anywhere in the multi-verse. In fact, it is perfectly acceptable to play them with the same confidence (mixed with arrogance) of a paladin. A planar paladin would be impossible to live with in these situations.

Speaking of Paladins, anyone within the 10 foot radius of a paladin's Aura of Courage also receives the +4 to these fear checks

Take Note: the base DC of the Fear check has been changed to 15 instead of 10, and I added one more modifier.

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Posts : 1938
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PostSubject: Horror Checks   Ravenloft: Rules EmptyFri Jan 06, 2012 5:58 pm

Rules for Horror Checks

Please note there have been small, but important, changes to the rules for Fear checks.

What is Horror?
Horror is not Fear 2.0. Horror is a psychological trauma just one step below madness. Horror is a combination of anguish, grief, and revulsion to a certain creature or event. The effects of such events can affect a character for long periods of time and are not easily healed (except with some magics, but the effects of Ravenloft may hamper such spells). This is a much more emotional state than fear. In most cases, horror is personal for each character based on their background and what they experience while traveling in Ravenloft. This will require some creativity on the players part for what will actually horrify their players. Usually, background or personalty entries for characters will give a DM enough information to pull on a character's strings to what they may find horrifying.
Also, please understand when I speak of horror, I am not talking of slasher flicks and extreme blood and gore. I prefer to focus on the type of horror that troubles a character's soul and not something that just makes them sick to their stomach. As a DM, I am more interested in events that turn a character's preconception of the world upside down.

Generic Horror
In case a DM is not given enough information to see what could strike the cords of a hero's mental state, here are some generic horrific situations based on character classes.

Fighter/Rangers/Psychic Warrriors/Soulknives/Barbarians
These characters are warriors and are not usually stopped by sites of gore and brutal foes in combat. However, they lack knowledge in the truly macabre secrets that can be found in Ravenloft. An foe who turns into a werewolf changes a warrior's entire fighting strategy and may even leave them unable to do anything but run for their life. The terrible effects of some high level spells can be enough to cause horror in these stalwart heroes, especially when these attacks greatly effect their ability to combat their foe. Seeing illithids feed, seeing the effects of a medusa's gaze, or seeing a wizard wipe out a town with a spell and then rise the town as undead to fight the heroes are all instances that could cause horror checks in warriors.

These characters are more familiar with the macabre foes that the heroes could face and they can be a wealth of information when dealing with such foes. Their magic can be brutal on the battlefield, so gore is not exactly something that makes them tremble. Their strength and their knowledge tends to be their weakness. They are more aware of the horrors a group of characters may encounter and tracking clues that lead to terrifying conclusions can be enough to upset wizards. Their weakness comes with the knowledge they possess. Also, wizards and sorcerers are not known for their hardy bodies, so finding themselves in situations where their brains will not overcome the brawn of an opponent can also invoke horror checks.

These characters have great strength that makes them shake of most events that would cause horror in other characters. Their faith and their devotion prepares them for most horrors a party can witness. It is the strength of such characters that can help lead a party to victory in face of these horrors. However, this great strength also leads the way to their greatest weakness: a sudden lapse in faith. Mortals are not perfect and if a situation arises that could cause a character to doubt his belief and conviction so greatly that the character may even feel abandoned or lost a horror check is called for. A simple example would be a cleric who tries to heal a wounded NPC, but no spell the character has seems to have an effect and actually makes the wound worse, and the NPC dies in the character's arms cursing him with dead eyes over the cleric's failure.

These characters are quite versatile and difficult to nail down as to what can actually horrify them. These characters come from all walks of life. They fight, they use magic to varying degrees, and they can delve into dark secrets. However, rogues, for instance, place great emphasis on their stealth and skills to keep them unnoticed. Should any situation arise where they realize their stealthy world is worthless, horror may be necessary. The situation should have high tension or disgust in the first place. A rogue who is spotted by a human guard because of a bad stealth roll is not horrified, just pissed. A rogue who is securely hidden in shadow while a vampire opponents feeds and then turns to point at the hidden rogue, would bring about horror.
Bards are a little more difficult. They do not rely on stealth, but they use their abilities to inspire others. Therefore their ability to shrug off horror is connected to the other party members' ability to combat a foe or benefit from the bard's heroic inspiration. The ability for a bard to effectively aid his party could lead to horror checks given the situation. There is a difference between a difficult battle and a horrible battle. A retreat is not horrifying, but a battle in which allies are left on the field as husks of bodies or as undead creatures is horrifying indeed. How can a bard's voice assist against such foes.

These characters are most equipped for the horrors of Ravenloft. They do not typically rely on outside sources like a wizard's book knowledge or a cleric's faith. Their abilities are linked to honing their intellectual skills or emotions to alter the world with their mental capacity. They alter the world on a fundamental level to a larger extreme than even a sorcerer. And they do it with thought alone. This gives them great confidence against most foes. Like wizards, they suffer from a lack of physical stamina and endurance in combat. The greatest threat to their sanity lies in the sanctity of their minds. Anything that can pierce or damage the psyche of psion or wilder can cause horror. This would have to be a terrible violation, or even rape, of their psyche, not just ability score damage. Foes like the Nightmare Court are terrible foes against psions and wilders, even though psions and wilders are most poised to battle such foes.

Rolling Horror Checks
Typically Horror checks are rare, although they may effect higher level characters more often than lower level characters due to the types of foes that invoke horror and the personal attachments that more established characters make. Also, uncovering dark secrets of Ravenloft always invoke horror if the revelation is understood. Such secrets were never meant to be known.

A Horror check is a Will save with modifiers similar to a Fear Check. The base DC is 15 with modiers below. Also, a 1d6 is rolled to determine the type of horror a character is faced with. There are also modifiers to the 1d6 roll.

Horror check modifiers
These modifiers either rise or lower the DC (base 15):
-4 a relative or fellow PC is endangered
-2 a friend or ally is endangered
-1 an innocent is endangered
+1 an innocent willingly participates in the horrific scene
+2 a friend or ally willingly participates in the horrific scene
+4 a relative or fellow PC willingly participates in the horrific scene
+1 PC is of good alignment
+1 PC is of lawful alignment
-1 PC is of chaotic alignment
-1 Character is of evil alignment
+1 Character is in close quarters (no where to run)
-1 Character is in an open area (room to run away)
-2 Hero has overcome or endured a similar scene within the past 24 hours
-1 Hero has overcome or endured a similar scene in the past
+2 Hero has been horrified by a similar scene in the past 24 hours
+1 Hero has been horrified by a similar scene in the past
+/- Creature with highest charisma involved in scene (if interacted with)

Failed Horror Check Modifiers and Results:
+1 Character is alone and cannot be quicken reached by allies
+1 Character is spellcaster or manifester with fewer than half of spells or power points remaining.
+1 Character has lost more than half of maximum hit points
+1 Character has failed a fear, horror, or madness check within the last 24 hours.

Horror Effects (1d6 + modifiers)
1. Fear (Roll on Fear Result Table)
2. Aversion
3. Nightmares
4. Revulsion
5. Obsession
6. Rage
7. Mental Shock
8. Fascination
9. Madness (Roll on Madness Table)
10. System Shock (Fort save or die)

Recovery from Horror
Horror, untreated lingers in a character for a month and even longer. Treatments range from psychological treatments over the time period or spells that may give a quick fix. If untreated a character is usually allowed a second horror check every month or less to overcome the effects of the failed check. However, they suffer any game penalties until they have overcome the failed check. These game effects are pretty intense and I have not reprinted them here for the sake of space and time.

Roleplaying Horror
Roleplaying failed checks is also encouraged to offset the terrible game effects such conditions have on characters. The roleplaying effect will have to be continued beyond the initial stage when the horror was introduced until it is cured. So a character suffering nightmares would have to roleplay such a character haunted by nightmares until he/she is treated for the condition or overcomes it.

Important Notes

Characters native to Manifest and the peninsula receive a +4 to horror checks involving spectral undead. Ghost characters receive a +8 bonus to horror checks involving spectral undead.

Planar characters receive +4 bonus to ALL Horror checks due to their background.

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PostSubject: Re: Ravenloft: Rules   Ravenloft: Rules EmptyWed Jan 18, 2012 10:41 pm

Rules for Madness Checks

What is a Madness Check?
These are some of the most dreaded checks to ask a player to make. Thankfully, these are relatively rare. These are the events that truly have shattered a character completely. Happily there are some obvious things not to do to avoid madness checks.

When Madness Checks are called
Three major events bring about madness checks: direct contact with alien minds, breaking points, and induced madness.

Direct Contact
While it may be creepy to dive into the minds of undead creatures in Greyhawk with a detect thoughts spell, in Ravenloft contact with truly alien minds (aberrations, undead, intelligent plants, sentient constructs, outsiders, elementals) will invoke madness checks in Ravenloft. The Darklord of any domain should also be avoided. Insane minds and dominated minds will also invoke madness checks.

Breaking Point
Terrible events around a character can also break them. These events would be rare events such as a character who has lost his entire team and stands alone in a very dangerous situation or a paladin who finds himself stripped of his abilities due to his misdeeds.

Induced madness
Magic and psionics can do terrible things to a person's mind, spells that invoke madness, like insanity, call for madness checks. Telepaths can cause serious damage to the psyche of a character.

There are also non-magical techniques known as gas-lighting. These usually involve a strong group of people committed to driving a character nuts.

Making a Madness Check
Madness Checks are tough. They start with a base of 20 and can be altered based on the opponent's Charisma score. Other modifiers are below:

+1 Character is of chaotic alignment
-1 Character is of lawful alignment
+2 Hero has been horrified by a similar scene within the past twenty-four hours
+1 Hero has been horrified by a similar scene in the past

Effects of Failure
If a madness check is failed, a severe change takes over the character. As usual a 1d6 is rolled (with possible modifiers) and the table is consulted below. The rules for these effects are not reproduced here because they are too extensive.

Failed Madness Modifiers:
+1 Character has a Wisdom of 9 or less
+1 Character has a Charisma of 9 or less
+1 Character is of Chaotic Alignment
+1 Character has failed a fear, horror, or madness check within the last twenty-four hours

Failed Madness check Results (1d6)
1. Horror
2. Depression
3 Catatonia
4. Delusions
5. Hallucinations
6. Schizophrenia
7. Paranoia
8. Amnesia
9. Multiple Personalities
10. System Shock

Recovering from Madness
Fortunately, some magic and psionics can heal a character stricken with madness as easily as curing a failed horror check. But no character can cure their madness on their own.

When magic is not available there are many sanitariums all over Ravenloft to help bring a character back to sanity. Some of these places are noble, others are full of mad and cruel doctors. Choose carefully. Such treatments can take months to achieve success.

Roleplaying the Madness Check
Failed Madness Checks should be roleplayed, since the character has changed. However, the roleplaying is part of the failed check. In other words, the game effects of a failed madness check cannot be ignored because of good roleplaying.

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