Lepus wrote:

So far, I think progression may be too fast, but it will be hard to break that to the players.

Another parallel that we have!  Actually, it's probably working out to one level every four sessions with our group.  I recently announced that I was increasing the number of XP required.  We'll see how that goes down tomorrow.  I calculated it to occur on a session when nobody would otherwise be reaching a new level.

MHC wrote:

Re: the changes you proposed, I think the best way to do this while keeping everything clean is to have multi-classing as the norm but with each class doing only one "thing" when you take a level: fighters give you bonuses to hit, magic users give you spell slots, specialists give you skills, someone gives you better saves (or have each save be its own thing), another one gives you better HP, etc. Conceptually, all the "extra" classes that other systems have are just various combinations of these basic mechanics. And making it explicit would improve on the keep the clean separation that your system has while still allowing for the more elaborate variations you are interested in having. Doing it this way would would make the criterion for a new class quite clear: a class alters some one thing on the char sheet.

If it's not obvious, I agree with this a lot.  Regarding your earlier question to Jim about Clerics...when you think about it, the separation between Clerics and Magic-User hampers this kind of conceptual purity.  Depending on how a setting approaches magic, ALL magic could have a spiritual component, or could really be some kind of ESP.  I like settings where the boundaries are not cut and dry, and precise explanations may be ambiguous.  Once you open up the spell list and add Turn Undead to it (as LotFP has done), these can all be different flavors of Magic-User that are differentiated by their spell canons, with the referee deciding how compatible their spells are.

Multiclassing can be hard to balance properly.  If you have an upward experience curve, then what do you do when a tenth-level M-U gets a level in Specialist?  Does the character need XP like he's moving up to level eleven, or level one?  If it's the former, then it feels pretty expensive for little gain (a level of M-U gets you a lot more bang at this point).  If it's the former, then it's a really cheap way of getting hit points at high level.  That's why I have tried to flatten progression by basing it on the number of sessions.  This has the side benefit of simplifying a mechanic that nobody in our group ever really cared about.

It's also safer to equalize progression across classes when their roles are highly compartmentalized.  Since their functions become so hard to compare, game balance isn't as much of an issue.  Each class has an area where they shine and are essential, and that's enough.

Lepus wrote:

@Edgewise, nice...Actually, here's a concept I came up with and haven't tested yet, but I kinda like:

Wow, so much of this is what I have arrived at more recently.  I flattened out experience (one level every five sessions) and put all the classes on the same track, so there is no downside to multiclassing.  And multiclassing is what makes all those other things possible that you mention with saving throws and skills.  The only significant difference in my campaign is that I'm not really capping levels.  It's early, and I'll see how it goes.  So far, I think progression may be too fast, but it will be hard to break that to the players.

It took me a while to find my way back here.  On retrospect, I want to comment on a few of Jim's items from the OP.

JimLotFP wrote:

* Magic saving throws modified by Charisma. It's the force of personality, not intelligence, that powers this stuff!

I know it's kind of heresy, but of all the quibbles I have with D&D, the biggest is the ability list.  There really should be proper abilities for Willpower and Perception.  Something about lumping both hand-eye coordination with reflexes and balance has always rubbed me wrong.  Agility should be split off from Dexterity.  And I'd even consider combining Strength and Constitution into one stat, like Might or Toughness.

Admittedly, it would take some work to rebalance these abilities.  Using Charisma for magic saves makes sense just to make Charisma more valuable to most players.  But using the concept of "force of personality" to bridge willpower and charm seems like forcing things, to me.

JimLotFP wrote:

* Encumbrance should affect initiative in some way. Different encumbrance levels using difference dice is one option but I fear might complicate things. "for every encumbrance dot roll an extra die for initiative, use the lowest of the bunch" might work?

I have some initiative and encumbrance rules that I'd like to share with you here.  It's just an extension of LotFP rules that I run at my table.

Every character has an Initiative score.  This is equal to Dexterity (well, Agility) modifier plus Fighter levels, plus one for a leveled character.

In big fights, we don't roll.  We just run down from high to low.  In fights with four or less combatants, I may have each one roll 1d6 and add to their Initiative.  The uncertainty creates tension, but 1d6 is a limited uncertainty.  Die size is entirely season-to-taste, here.

I got rid of the idea of Dexterity modifiers to AC.  In place of that, I added benefits to having a higher Initiative.  If your Initiative is higher than an opponent that you choose to attack, then you get a +1 to you attack.  If you instead hold back your action till a later segment, then while you are holding your action, opponents with a lower initiative get -2 to attack you.  If you held your action, though, you lose the initiative attack bonus even if you decide to attack a slower opponent.

In practice, this is a fast system of resolution, and the consequences of gaining and losing initiative feel about right.  It has an effect that is worth considering, and it feels natural, but it doesn't disturb the balance and usual roles of different statistics.

How does encumbrance come into play?  I use LotFP encumbrance mechanics, and characters must subtract an amount from Dexterity (Agility at my table) proportional to encumbrance level.

JimLotFP wrote:

* Not original, but all weapon damage is d8, with the "roll twice, take the lowest/highest" for certain kinds of weapons.

I see you're digging on the whole bonus/penalty die mechanic.  The funny thing is, that's how I houserule different task "difficulties" for skill rolls in LotFP (i.e. roll 2 or 3 dice, and keep the lowest/highest).  As GM, I like having big qualitative jumps in difficulty level.

JimLotFP wrote:

* Also thinking that by expanding the skill list a bit, we could give Fighters and Magic-Users some skill points to play with while also giving Specialists more points so it's still their thing without maxing the existing skills up faster. Very unsure about this one because it makes NPC statting more complicated and I want to avoid that.

I'm against giving skill points to other classes.  But then again, I'm on record as being multiclass-friendly.  I really like how LotFP highly differentiates each class.  DCC does that, too, but in a very different way that makes multiclassing infeasible.  I'd rather you found a way to permit multiclassing.  That way, it becomes a lot easier to homebrew your own paladin or ranger (or buccaneer or witch hunter).

I do really like adding new skills.  I almost doubled the skill list for my game.  Here are some of my additions:

Animal handling (for riding, calming, training, caring and packing of animals)
Business (for getting good deals, and also for appraising potential treasures)
Deception (forgery, disguise and sucker-punching (like a sneak attack to the face))
First aid (stabilize someone in critical condition, give a poison victim another saving throw, etc.)
Lore (history and the humanities in general)
Mysticism (understanding of magical matters; Magic-Users automatically progress in this one)

There are a couple of others, but these are probably some of the most reasonable for general FRPG situations.

JimLotFP wrote:

"Explorer" itself being dishwater-dull as a name...

It beats "Specialist" ;-)

JimLotFP wrote:

My problems with those conceptually... yes, the art will be all "1600s western European-focused" in the main rulebooks. It's what excites me and what I think of in my game. Buuuttt, "Fighter" "Magic-User" "Specialist" are themselves universally applicable. If you want your campaign to be Aztec-based, Ottoman-based, Mughal-based, Edo-based, Tokugawa-based, Ming-based, whatever, then those three classes are still applicable. "The ass-kicker, the mystic, the misc. skills."

Not so much "Witch-Hunter" or "Conquistador/Buccaneer".

I really agree with this sentiment, and I feel that these classes are a poor fit.  I would be concerned that more than just your contributing writers would feel that a specific setting was de rigeur.  If you can fit multiclassing into your paradigm, I think any need for these kinds of ultra-specific classes disappears.

The concept of class is a bit of an odd one.  Classes are supposed to be archetypes, so multiclassing can feel like a violation of that.  But a proliferation of setting-specific sub-classes was a plague on D&D even back towards the end of 1ed.  Remember thief-acrobats and kensai?  Remember barbarians, cavaliers, and a dozen other ways to say "Fighter"?  With sane multiclassing, you don't have to come up with a new potentially game-breaking set of rules every time one of your players watches a movie and gets an idea for a new cool archetype.

I've been persuaded recently to handle experience very simply.  Players level up every X number of sessions of play.  I've done a bit of work to balance the basic three classes, without going crazy (more skills and skill points for Specialists, slower spell-casting for Magic-Users), and now they all use the same session-based scale.  It works for my group...they couldn't care less about XP incentivization.

JimLotFP wrote:

Not only thought about but long ago decided: Demi-humans and Clerics will go in the appendix, firearms to the main portion of the book, and Cleric spells folded into the MU spell lists.

Sounds good to me!  My game has three classes.  The Cleric has always seemed like a weird fit, better as an NPC.  If you design them as such, I think they make great allies and antagonists when you don't have to worry at all about balance.  To the extent that I have them in my games, they are just another flavor of Magic-User.

And I have NEVER liked the idea of playable elves and dwarves (as classes or races).  Especially not the Tolkienesque approach.

JimLotFP wrote:

That's kind of the point. One thing I hate about the modifiers is they eliminate the lower possibilities. It's why Strength doesn't modify damage, because doing 1 point of damage should always be on the table.

I think this is a really insightful point.  It's one reason that it's very difficult to implement "realistic" mechanics for armor to reduce damage without ending up in some very skewed situations.  I found a workable mechanic, though.  Characters have an AC representing how big a target they are and how fast they are moving.  Armor coverage increases this, regardless of armor type.  So a full suit of leather has the same AC as a full set of chain (18).  A roll above the base HC (Hit Class) for a target (12 for man-sized combatants) but under the AC has the damage reduced by the armor's Protection.  This value ranges from two (leather) to five (plate), with the middle ground being reserved for light and heavy mails.

The usual AC mechanics work for man-vs-man situations, but they seem silly when dealing with giants and dragons and such.  When those guys hit you, you're still going to take damage through any protection.  It seems pretty weird that plate armor can completely deflect the danger of a huge dragon's claw swipe, whereas the reality is that it should be barely more protection than that paper gown they give you in the hospital.

Another way to do it would be to use the DCC dice chain for damage reduction.  This could reduce the amount of stats to track, and retain that concept of minimal damage.  Or even use the same mechanic you were talking about for weapon damage, with penalty dice for armor.  Thick armor could have you rolling 5d8, keeping the lowest die.

Well, them's my thoughts.  I hope you find something interesting in this mess.

Hi Jim, I'm a big-time fan of LotFP, but like any GM worth his salt, I home-rule the hell out of it.  That's not because of any deficiencies, of course, so much as the fact that I can't leave well-enough alone.  That being said, let me tell you about some of my home rules, in case you'd like to steal any ideas.

One of the biggest rules is that I allow multi-classing.  I do it in a way that feels pretty balanced to me.  You track each class level separately.  When a character levels up in that class, they get all the usual benefits except for hit points (I do saving throws a little differently, so I won't get into that, here).  The way hit points work is that every time you hit level X in any class, you can reroll all the hit dice you would have qualified for that class, and take the result if any of the dice comes up higher than what you previously rolled for level X.

An example: Your character has one level of Fighter and two levels of Specialist.  He gets another Fighter level.  When the player rolled hit points for second level Specialist, he previously got a 4.  When the player goes up to level two in Fighter, now the player gets to roll a d6 (for existing Specialist level) and d8 (for the new Fighter level).  Let's say the player rolls a 2 for the d8 and a 6 for the d6.  Now the character replaces the 4 HP for level two with 6 HP, so his total HP goes up by two.

It sounds complicated, but it really isn't.  The point here is that if you're a tenth level fighter and you pick up a level of Magic-User, you only need enough XP for get to the Magic-User level.  The rules for HP are to make sure that a high level character doesn't buy a bunch of levels in a new class to get some cheap HP.  Since the abilities of classes (at least the human professions) are so distinct, there are otherwise few opportunities for this kind of cumulative abuse.

With multi-classing like this, it's a pretty simple matter to blend classes to homebrew your own paladin, ranger, etc.  I've never been a fan of race as class because I've never been a fan of playable elves, dwarfs, etc.  But it's almost possible to simulate racial classes with a little multiclassing (the saving throws are the tricky part).

So that's multiclassing.  What else?  I think it's a no-brainer to add some Specialist skills.  A few that I have found particularly useful are Lore (a general-purpose history and knowledge skill), Animal Handling, Deception (for disguise, acting, conning, forgery, etc.), First Aid (very minor healing, stabilizing critical condition, and rerolling failed saves for poison and the like), and a couple others.

That's all I'll bother mentioning.  I have plenty of other changes, but I wouldn't expect you to be interested, because they're pretty radical.  Multiclassing is radical enough for most old-schoolers.  I've chopped up the rules enough that I have my own name for them: Exultations of the Incandescent Queen.