"Good things come to those who wait."---Greldum Drobe, captain of the White Rhino's military corps, addressing his young apprentice.
The usual rules state that a character gets two points ranks worth of knowledge skills.
Feeling that this is not nearly enough, I allow my players to take up to their Perception
Step in ranks worth of Knowledge skills. This includes Artisan Skills as well. I give them
their language and Dwarven for free and also Dwarven read/write at rank one for free.
The players can add ranks to there language skills or purchase new languages skills with
any points they have.
Knocking out a person
Sometimes a player wants to knock a person out with one swift thump to the head. Since
attacking to stun doesn’t provide anything like this, I have devised this rule. In order for a
character to knock someone out, the following circumstances must occur. First, the
character must be using a blunt weapon. Even the pommel of a sword or ax will do the
trick. If a character does use the pommel of the weapon, reduce the damage step by one
or two. Second, the player must have surprise. It’s hard to knock somebody out if they
know your going to do it. Third, the player must make a called shot to the head.
If all of these requirements are achieved, the character can then attempt to knock the
person out. Make an attack test first to see if the character hits. If the character rolls a
success, make a damage test. The damage result is the target number that the opposing
character has to his knockout roll. Have the opposing character roll his toughness action
dice against the Damage of the attack. If the character fails this roll, he is knocked out.
The character will be out cold for a number of minutes equal to the difference between the
damage and the toughness roll. If the opponent makes a successful test, he will just have a
big bruise and a lump on his head. Damage taken from the knockout is only temporary
and the character will get 75% of the damage done, back in 10 minutes or so.
One of my players absolutely hated the karma rules. He hated the fact that karma could
only be used on discipline talent’s. However, I argued that the rules given explained why
this was so. He did not buy it so I had to devise a new system for using karma. The new
system was this: Any adept could spend karma on any talent test he wanted. The only
penalty for this was that if the talent was not a discipline talent, he would have to spend a
total of 10 karma just to get one karma die. Discipline talents were still one karma,
however. Despite this change, some of my players were still unhappy with the expensive
costs. My retort; “hmf”.
Movement in the Earthdawn game, I feel, is unbalanced. A round is only suppose to be 10 seconds and to have characters being able to run 100 yards in 10 seconds is hard to believe. Being a long time AD&D player, I found that the movement system in that game was quite good. So I have changed it. It isn’t a big difference. Mainly, take your characters attribute value (not step) and, using the racial modifiers which are the same as the original movement system and that is how far your character can move in tens of feet. Simply half that (round down) and you will have the combat movement. Here is the table to refresh your memory.
Windling (land -8), (air +2)
Here is an example to help understand this new system.
Avis, an ork cavalryman, has a dexterity attribute value of 13. According to the table above, orks get a +2 to their movement, so Avis can travel a full movement of 150 feet. His combat movement rate is half of that which means he can travel at 75 feet.
When we play, we use miniatures and a large hex battle mat. (I strongly recommend one of these for any role playing game. You can draw on them with water based markers and erase them later with a damp cloth) As default, we make each hex 10 feet. This makes it simple to determine a character’s movement. For Avis, on this map, he could travel a full movement of 15 hexes. For combat movement, he can travel half of this, round down. That means he can move 7 spaces and attack.
Opportunity of attack
I had a big problem with one character who was an elven archer adept. Under my new movement system (see above) she could travel 200 feet in a round or 100 feet and still attack. This caused havoc among the npc’s she fought. None of them could engage her with melee weapons, and if they did get lucky enough to do so, it would be short lived because the next round she would just retreat 100 feet back and blast arrows at them. This had me pulling my hair out. So a short discussion with my group and we decided to implement opportunity of attacks. This is a very nice optional rule that makes it more difficult for those fast characters to rule the battle map by doing laps around everyone. The basic concept behind this rule is that if a character is engaged in melee combat, it is going to be difficult for him or her to run away without the enemy hacking them to bits. The rule simply implements an opportunity of attack. If a character flees while engaged in melee combat, the enemy gets a free attack against that character. This attack is added onto any other attacks the character normally has.
Avis is engaged in melee combat with Silvaria, the elven archer. Avis is a much stronger, skilled melee weapons fighter than Silvaria but Silvaria knows that if she could break away to use her bow, she could possibly drop the enraged ork. Avis takes his normal attack against Silvaria, hitting her. On Silvaria’s action, she decides to take her chances and run away to get a shot off with her bow. Avis, who has already had his normal action, gets an extra attack from this new opportunity. He attacks her and gains another hit, dropping the poor elf. Silvaria’s gamble didn’t pay off this time.
Your probably wondering how on earth people can escape from melee combat without surrendering a free attack against them. Well, this combat option is available to the player. It is called Tactical Retreat. The character slowly backs away from his enemy, sword out and defenses up. While using this tactic, the character does not get an attack, automatically goes into the defensive stance (+3 to Physical Defense, -3 to all other steps during that round), and retreats 10 feet back. this retreat happens at the end of the round if the character wishes. (this is to prevent the attacker from withholding his action until after he retreats and then walking up the 10 feet and getting an attack on him. Note that the player tactically retreating can retreat as soon as his initiative number is called if he so wishes). Once the player is 10 feet back, it will be very important to win the next initiative because it is more than likely that the enemy will be back on him if he does not.
Blocking is a tactic that can be used by a character to block another character from passing by them. The character states that he is going to block at the beginning of the round. This generally means that the character cannot move from the position that he is blocking from. (In game terms, the player cannot move during the round in which he is blocking.) Blocking can come in handy when trying to prevent an enemy from escaping the only exit of a room, protecting a wounded companion or a defenseless person from being attacked, or allowing a companion to retreat from a melee combat without being chased. Simply put, a person cannot get past a character who is blocking. However, if a character wishes to try and force his way by a blocking character, the two roll opposed strength tests. If the blocking person wins the test, he succeeds in blocking passage by him. If the character trying to force himself past wins the test, he may move past the blocking person. However, the blocking person gains an Opportunity of attack and also gets a +3 step to attack and damage. Hence, blocking can be a very effective tactic when trying to prevent someone