Feb 25, 2014

Describing What Is In The PCs' Hands At the Start of Encounters

My experience has been that one small point of tablecraft that is often forgotten is asking the PCs what each of them is holding in their hands at the start of encounters, and then at the beginning of each round of combat. Though it seems minor, even trivial, it actually serves to define the immediate tactical options available to the PCs. e.g. whether someone is holding a light source or not, or whether they have their weapon drawn, will tell you some important details about how the round could develop. Asking this question establishes a shared understanding of the conditions which avoids further disputes or confusion later on, as well as making the scene more vivid and easily imagined.

My suggestion to you if you do not already do this is to experiment with doing so (in an orderly manner) in a few sessions and examine the results.

Feb 12, 2014

Two Proposed Simple Rules for Wands

Jack Shear put up a post about wands recently, reminding me of the old controversy. I have no opinion on that controversy. Broadly speaking, the division I use between wands and staves is that wands let you do one thing over and over again, whereas staves let you do many (or at least, several) things. Partially this is because wielding a wand is like wielding most weapons, in that it takes up one hand and binds the uses of that hand to it, while wielding a staff takes two hands and thus requires at least two options to replace the lost capabilities of that extra hand it requires.

I think I will therefore get rid of all wand types and replace them with one of these two house rules. I haven't playtested either, so I will have to try them out to see how they go.

Variant 1:

A spellcaster who wields a wand may make a saving throw when casting a spell. If they pass, they retain the spell and may cast it again.

In systems that differentiate saves, the saving throw is vs. spells.

Variant 2:

A spellcaster who wields a wand may roll a d10. If the result is higher than the spell level, they retain the spell and may cast it again.

If anyone has experience with either house rule, or similar rules, let me know.