Continuing my Dark Sun campaign description: I emailed out the players the summaries I wrote, and got a message from Bert asking if Eunice could be in the game, though she hadn’t been involved in the novels and her availability was such that she’d only be able to make half the sessions (which is why I hadn’t already invited her). Eunice provided Annabeth, a human nomad ardent, with a backstory that tied her fairly closely to Trevia and more loosely to Aya, Kyahasha, and Thom.

DARK SUN OPTIONAL RULES

Another thing I emailed my players:

House rules and optional rules:

* Inherent Bonuses, using the rules in the DMG2 and reprinted in the Dark Sun Campaign Setting. In a nutshell, characters without a magic item in the weapon, implement, armor, and/or neck slots are treated as having a +2 magic item. Tied to this, treasure parcels will have one less magic item per level and starting PCs will have one less magic item (PCs begin with a level 11 item, a level 10 item, and a level 10 item’s worth of money/goods).
The rationale for this rule is to diminish the dependence of PCs on magic items, and allow PCs to mix weapon and implement powersets (like a wizard gladiator or a Veiled Alliance fighter) more freely.

* Reckless Weapon Breakage, as described in the Dark Sun Campaign Guide. On an attack roll of 1 with a weapon, the player may choose to reroll the attack and take the second result. If this option is taken and the weapon is nonmetal, then the weapon breaks and becomes useless. If the option is taken and the weapon is metal, then the weapon breaks only if the reroll result is 1 to 5.
The rationale for this rule is to emphasize the desirability of metal weapons.

* Overheating Armor, as described in the Dark Sun Campaign Guide and slightly modified. First, the armor check penalty applies to all Endurance rolls, and to Fortitude defense to resist sun-sickness. Second, a -5 penalty applies to all checks undertaken in the heat of the desert, when the character is wearing metal armor.
The rationale for this rule is to highlight the difficulty of wearing armor in the desert heat.

* Modified Extended Rests. Whenever the party reaches a milestone, someone rolls a d6 and adds the number of milestones the party has reached since their last extended rest. If the result is 6 or more, then the party may take an extended rest and gain all the usual benefits. If not, their extended rest will be no more restful than a short rest.
The rationale for this rule is to make healing surges and daily powers valuable commodities all the time, not just (as the default rules tend to) when the party is in a situation where they are having multiple encounters in a single day. Using all your daily powers in a single fight becomes less desirable a tactic, because it’s not guaranteed that there will be an extended rest opportunity before the next fight. NB skill challenges count as encounters for purposes of
milestones.

* Restrictions on Ritual Availability. Some rituals are inappropriate to Dark Sun. The following rituals do not exist or have been lost (this list taken from the DDI Compendium on 3 September 2010, covers levels 1 to 11, and is subject to additions). Ritual magic gets the shaft in Living Forgotten Realms, for various logistical reasons, and I’d like to see it used more, so treasure parcels will tend to include ritual reagents. Also, apparently there’s going to be an update on magic item creation (part of which involves getting to use as many magic item daily powers as you want); I’d prefer no magic item creation until that update is released and settled.
Conceal Dragonmark, Travel Sense, Create Campsite, Portend Weather, Create Holy Water, Fluid Funds, Endure Elements, Survivor’s Preparation, Bloom, Traveler’s Feast, Iron Vigil, Hand of Fate, Rite of Arkentaash, Fortify Beast, Fey Passage, Call Wilderness Guide, Seal Portal, Linked Portal, Song of Sustenance, Analyze Portal, Argent Portal, Disorienting Portal, Pact of the Iron Ring, Secure Shelter, Consult Mystic Sages.
Provisionally: Enchant Magic Item, Forge Weapon, Forge Armor, Disenchant Magic Item, Transfer Enchantment.

ADDED LATER:
* Ritual Magic. Characters with the Ritual Caster feat, or any version of it, generate an amount of magical power equivalent to 10 units of residuum per character level. These units aren’t transferable and can’t be stored. The rationale for this change is that the free, renewing residuum provides a means for higher-level characters to use low-level rituals without expending any nonrenewable resources, discounts the price of higher-level rituals by partially offsetting the cost, and makes multiple ritual casters in the party desirable (by generating more effective residuum) rather than redundant.

I don’t have much to say about the optional and house rules beyond the rationales I provided above. As I write this we just had our second session, and the party has had three milestones and two fights. Aya is out of healing surges, which as far as I’m concerned means the system is working as intended, but I’m a little worried that I might be making Carla’s preferred playstyle too suboptimal by punishing Aya for doing all the things that cost you healing surges. In general I have a failed skill check out of combat cost a healing surge, whether it’s a failed Athletics check that results in falling and skinning a knee, or a failed Diplomacy check that results in frustration, resentment, and less combat readiness.


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