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Good evening, afternoon, or whatever time it happens to be there, ladies and gents! I happen to be Andy, who happens to be a freelance web designer, musician, writer, and whatnot.

Roman Catholic, student of tabletop gaming, and someday soon I'll have my own designs in the field!

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Little Spice for Combat

Okay, well, there's been a bit of blog delay, but here I am, back and blogging again, with another Crunch post (a day late, yes, but...still here). What's up this time? It's a little rules variant that you can use to spice up your d20 games...and can easily adapt to other systems. It's a rules variant called "Stunts", which I rather explicitly stole from a similar idea in the Dragon Age pen and paper RPG. It's adapted, though, so as to make for something a little easier to access and modify.

The way it works is thus: in the game, you roll 3d6. Whenver you roll 2 sixes on your dice, you immediately get to perform a "stunt", which is a regular attack or move, but with some additional cool effect. (This is not the same as 4th Edition's "Improvised Actions" rule, which lets you improvise a stunt on the fly, balanced with normal attacks) As far as implementing this in D&D, you've got some very interesting options. The one I posit? It's a little thing I call "D&D Roulette".

Setting the Board
When you start the game, you pick one of your six abilities (in D&D, that is. In other games, they may differ, but here, those abilities are Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma). This is your Stunt Ability. You then take the modifier from that ability (usually a number from +1 to +4). That number is how many "Stunt Spots" you have on your 20-sided die.

You then assign these "Stunt Spots" to specific numbers. 20 is a bonus Stunt Number that you get, and 1 can never be a Stunt Number. So, for example, you might assign Stunt Numbers to 3, 11, and 14 if your Stunt Ability has a +3 modifier. You would also have a Stunt Number on 20, as that bonus. So, what are these numbers good for?

Rack Up the Points!
Whenever you roll your d20 for any reason during a fight, and the die itself rolls one of your Stunt Numbers, you may either gain two Stunt Points or perform a Stunt. The more points you have, the more you can do with that Stunt. If the Stunt results in a successful attack, you gain one Stunt Point afterwards, for future use. All Stunt Points reset at the end of the encounter.

When you spend Stunt Points, you get to add bonus effects to your attack, depending on how many Stunt Points you spent. I've made the following table for 4th Edition D&D, but once you get the idea, you can adapt it to whatever system you want.

1 Point- Gain 3 temporary hitpoints.
1 Point- Roll a saving throw against a condition affecting you.
2 Points- Push target one square (five feet)
2 Points- Your damage die gains brutal 1 for the attack.
3 Points- Deal half damage if the attack misses.
3 Points- Spend a healing surge as a minor action after the attack.
4 Points- Shift half your speed as a move action after the attack.
5 Points- After the attack finishes, you may make it again against different targets.

That's not where it ends, though. Once you have these effects (however many) applied to the attack, they need some explanation. This is where the fun kicks in. You push the target one square; why? Was it your massive strength? A knowledge of pressure points that caused them to stumble back? An intimidating presence? This is where the big fun of stunts kicks in.

So, if you're looking to add some spice to your game, try this variant out as a houserule. Let me know how it goes, too!


  1. I love, and am stealing, this. Some slight modifications to work with 3.5 and I'll see if I can get my group to try it out.

  2. Thanks! It was just one of those fun little ideas where I saw it described and thought, "Hey, that looks cool!"

  3. This is comepletely dissimilar to stunts in scion, but I like your version too. In scion if you do something "AWESOME!" you get extra dice to try and do it.

  4. Cool. I like the sound of that too, though it doesn't work quite as well in D&D, it not being a dice pool system. (My, dice pools make so many things so much simpler...)


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