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Introducing a Survival Element into D&D


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#1 The_Nalic

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 03:46 PM

A while back i tried to runa campaign set deep in a desert with the aim of creating a crusades type situation where the technologies and techniques of warfare of the europeans were not in keeping with their environment. I was a little disapointed to find out that there are a plethora of spells and abilities that can easily avoid sunstroke, finding water, heat exhaustion, contaminated water problems that i wanted to inflict on the players. To some degree Dark Sun deals with this but i wanted to inject realism into the system well known and loved by the players. Perhaps it was a little ambitous but i'd like to know if anyone has tried to do something similar or has suggestions about how i could achieve the results i wanted.
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#2 centauri

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 05:11 PM

A while back i tried to runa campaign set deep in a desert with the aim of creating a crusades type situation where the technologies and techniques of warfare of the europeans were not in keeping with their environment.

First of all, I commend you and your players for your bravery at even considering such a scenario.

I was a little disapointed to find out that there are a plethora of spells and abilities that can easily avoid sunstroke, finding water, heat exhaustion, contaminated water problems that i wanted to inflict on the players.

The first thing you need to do when moving away from what D&D is designed to simulate is to trim out the stuff that's meant to gloss over the stuff it's not designed to simulate. If your players have agreed to the intent of the setting anyway, simply bar any quick fixes like those spells and abilities.

To some degree Dark Sun deals with this but i wanted to inject realism into the system well known and loved by the players.

... for it's lack of realism.

Perhaps it was a little ambitous but i'd like to know if anyone has tried to do something similar or has suggestions about how i could achieve the results i wanted.

I haven't tried it or otherwise engaged in it, but that's no reason for me not to open my trap on the subject.

If you don't want to trim out spells, as I suggested above, then you have to alter the world in other ways. Crusaders in a strange land might have the magic or items to deal with the usual inconveniences, but D&D is all about unusual inconveniences.

Make the region be pervaded by some strange energy that does something bad to the characters. Weakening them is obvious, but you can slowly have them lose Wisdom and go crazy (also dings those pesky, food-summoning Clerics), or slowly become more and more contaminated and penalized. The natives are immune or acclimatized to the environment, and the only way for invaders to survive for long is for them to find a particular flower or animal (or gland inside an animal). In other words, they need something magic can't directly provide, but which ranks in Survival and Knowledge might put within reach. The good portion of their days would be spent trying to find a new supply of the item in question.

Just because a party with some spellcasters has an infinite supply of food and water, doesn't mean they don't have other consumables. There are lots of ways for characters to be slowly (or suddenly) stripped of their belongings. Suddenly they're all taking ranks in Craft(weaponsmithing), and Heal to make up for their lost weapons and potions, and at no point do the monster attacks stop. The cleric might even wind up having to choose between making food or keeping the party alive on a given day.

That's all I can come up with right now. Good luck.
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#3 Balgin

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 07:49 AM

I was a little disapointed to find out that there are a plethora of spells and abilities that can easily avoid sunstroke, finding water, heat exhaustion, contaminated water problems that i wanted to inflict on the players.


Basicaly, any useful utility spell that should be considered a miracle in AD&D is about 3 or 4 levels lower than it should be unless it does damage. As you progress up through the spell levels you'll notice that they become more attack and damage oriented as they get higher and the non combat spells start getting phased out somwhere around levels 4-6.
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