House Rules

The Coming of the Zioth is based on the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 role-playing game. Please don't hesitate to email the DM if you have any questions, or if you disagree with the implementation of any rules in this document.

Communication

Many players are shy about telling me things. There's no reason to be. Whether you have suggestions, criticism, comments on game-play or whatever, I'm always listening. You're not going to insult me by saying something bad about my game. At worst, I'll disagree with you, and at best the game will change for the better. The goal here is for everyone to have fun.

If I ever intrude on your character in a way you don't want me to, tell me. I may not be able to undo the damage done, but I'll know to avoid it in the future. If you want your character to progress in a certain direction and events aren't working out the way you want them to, let me know. I can help.

Feel free to ask me about anything your character knows. If I can't answer, you might be able to make up a bit of the history of my world yourself in order to answer the question.

PBeM Game-play

Turns: The game is pretty arbitrarily broken down into what are called “game turns.” The game progresses as a series of emails, and at some point, usually at a good cliffhanger or an obvious resting point, I'll compile the emails into a prose-style story, and assign experience point awards. When I compile the turn, I rewrite most of the emails to conform to a common style. However, I never modify dialogue, except to correct spelling, punctuation and obvious typos, and I do not modify a character's actions – only the language they're written in.

Speed: As a play-by-email game, there is the potential for things to move very slowly. This has happened many times in the past, so I've added this set of rules to prevent it from happening again:

  • I may post for any player who doesn't respond within two days. Afterwards, the player may alter posts that I've written to more accurately reflect his or her character. The posts may be changed in content, but not in effect, and they may not be changed after the full turn has been posted.
  • The two-day limit can be extended to a week if the player notifies me in advance. I will also occasionally allow longer delays, but again, only if I'm notified. Requests for delays will not be honored if they happen too often.
  • This does not apply if there is only one active player in a side-game, unless that player falls very far behind the other groups.
  • I'll try to keep you all informed when I can't post for some reason, and you're welcome and encouraged to send me frequent emails asking why I haven't posted yet when I'm slow.
  • In general, players are expected to be flexible. There are times when the game slows down because of me being busy or whatever. There are other times when each player writes multiple posts in a day.

Joining the game: Here's how to join!.

Party Conflict

I believe that a little party conflict can create an enjoyable role-playing experience. I don't specifically encourage it, but I don't forbid it either. However, anything over the top should only be done with the agreement of all players involved. Use good judgment, and it can never hurt to ask if you’re not sure. Also, play nice – the PCs might not like each other, but the party should have some reason to stick together. If you feel that I should be providing that reason and I’m not doing my job properly, let me know and I’ll help. And finally, remember the difference between characters and players. Just because a character is crazy, confrontational, stubborn or whatever, doesn't mean the player is.

Experience

The bulk of experience awards are given for participation, role-playing and puzzle-solving, with bonus experience for the rare combat. On average, characters will go up in level every ten turns, so you can expect to gain about 100xp per level per turn. This will vary by up to 40% based on individual participation.

For those who want to get more involved, bonus XP awards are available. These won't be huge, but you should be rewarded for extra effort you put in.

  • Character History: A detailed character history will give a significant amount of bonus XP to new characters.
  • Character Journals: At any time, you may write an entry in your character journal. This is composed of your character's thoughts on recent events, things your character does that aren't included in the game turns, or whatever else you feel like writing in-character. When you send me a character journal, you can decide whether you want it to be publicly available, public with a request that other players don't read it, or completely private. Personally, I prefer the first and second options, because it lets visitors to the web site read your work and learn more about your character.
  • Turn Summaries: You will get some additional XP for writing a summary of a recent game turn, in or out of character. You should cover important events and NPCs. This will be posted on the turn summaries page.
  • Expanding the World: There's a lot of unexplored territory in this game world. If you would like to invent something new, or expand on something that already exists, tell me your idea and I'll probably let you write it up, with some revisions by me.
  • Expanding this web site: If you have a favorite NPC or location you'd like to write up, follow these guidelines.

Player Character Races

Non-humans: Your character's race will almost certainly be human. Other races are quite different from those in the Player's Handbook. If you want to play one of the non-human races from the World Supplement or a race of your own, specific descriptions, history, rules and guidelines will be supplied to you or worked out with you.

The Middle Ages: In medieval times, average height, weight, and age were much lower than in the Player's Handbook. However, to make it easier for players to imagine their game world, there are no physical adjustments for medieval conditions. The same goes for hygiene, health, and other such details. Other aspects of that time period, however, should be expected to remain the same. See the World Supplement for more details.

Multiclassing: All characters, regardless of race, may choose their favored class. To make up for this, humans get a bonus class skill (see the Skills section).

Allowed Classes

Available classes are not limited to those in the PHB. You are welcome to submit a class of your own design, or to work out the details of a new class with the DM. Since this game focuses primarily on role-playing, you will not be at a severe disadvantage if you choose to play a non-combative class, such as an Expert. The monk and psionic classes don't fit into the Zioth world, though you may be allowed to use them in modified form after discussing it with the DM.

Prestige Classes: You must receive permission to use a prestige class. I'll generally allow them if they make sense for your character, and fit well into the campaign. Prestige classes may be granted as a result of in-game occurrences, although you may reject them as they come along. You're also welcome to suggest a style of advancement at any time. I want your character to be your own, so I'll try to accommodate the way you see your character developing.

Normal People: The Normal Person rules are used to create some NPCs, and can be used for PCs with permission. They're focused on creating non-combat-oriented characters that can still be masters of their fields.

Custom Classes:

Magic

This is a very low-magic world, so a few modifications have been made to the rules to accommodate that. They are:

  • Clerics and druids do not have access to every spell of a particular level at once. Instead, they gain access to specific spells as time progresses. Players may choose to play a non-magic-using cleric, which is by far the most common type in this world.
  • Wizards do gain the standard two spells per level, but spells beyond that will be rare.
  • No one has wanted to play a sorcerer yet, but when it happens, some modifications will be necessary to bring it in line with the power-level of the wizard.
  • Players who play rangers, bards or paladins are encouraged to play non-magic-using versions of those classes. What that means is up for discussion, and will be decided between the player and the DM. This may be as simple as taking some of the more subtle spells and making them spell-like abilities.
  • Unless there are unusual circumstances, new characters have probably never witnessed the use of magic in any form. This makes it highly unlikely that new characters would start with magic items.

Spell Promotion/Demotion: Spell slots can be downgraded at a 1:1 ratio, or upgraded at a 2:1 ratio. When dropped three levels, a slot can be exchanged at a 1:2 ratio. So, for example, two first level spells may be exchanged for a second level spell, and a fourth level spell may be exchanged for two first level spells. Bonus specialist or domain slots may not be upgraded or downgraded.

Modified Spells:

  • True Seeing: When trying to penetrate a spell with True Seeing, an opposed caster level check is made secretly by the DM, with a -10 penalty to the targeted spell. If the target wins, True Seeing fails to penetrate the spell, and won't be able to see through it until it is cast again.
  • Protection from Evil: Instead of being blocked by Protection from Evil, an opposed caster level check is made to see whether an enchantment gets through, with a -10 penalty to the enchantment.
  • Polymorph and similar spells: These work as described in the Player's Handbook, as opposed to in the errata. In order to transform into a creature, you must have seen that creature, alive. To mimic any special attack or special quality, you must either:
    • have witnessed that ability being used,
    • have spent eight hours in a library with applicable information and succeeded at an appropriate knowledge check with a DC of 10 + the creature's hit dice, or
    • have succeeded at an appropriate knowledge check with a DC of 20 + the creature's hit dice.
  • Identify and Analyze Dwoemer: See “Identifying items without a spell,” below.

Identifying items without a spell: Due to the limited amount of magic in this campaign, identifying items can be difficult. For this reason, anyone with the proper skills can identify items, given enough time and expertise. This also modifies the identify family of spells such that their effect isn't guaranteed. Learn More...

New and Changed Feats

Skills

Automatic Failure: If a skill's description specifically mentions automatic failure on a natural 1, that rule stands. All other skills use the “Critical Miss” rules in the Combat section of this document.

Natural 20: The following skills use the “Critical Hit” rules in the combat section: Disable Device, Search, Balance, Hide, Move Silently, Spot, Survival, Gather Information, Use Magic Device.

Human Bonus Skill: Human characters may select one skill, based on their character history, which will always be a class skill for them, regardless of the skill list for their current class. This adds flexibility to the race, allowing for a wider variety of skill sets.

Concentration: The concentration DC to cast defensively is 10, plus 3 for each threatened area you are in. Subtract 6 if there are no somatic components.

Profession: With five ranks in a Profession skill, you can add one related skill to your class skills list, subject to DM approval. With ten ranks, you can add a second class skill.

Speak Language: Unlike in the traditional rules, Speak Language is an ordinary skill, based on Intelligence. It can be used to learn new languages, understand bits of unknown languages, communicate with people who don't speak your language, pronounce difficult words correctly, or correctly interpret idioms. Five ranks in this skill grants a +2 synergy bonus to Decipher Script.

Example skill checks include:

  • DC15: Understand a few words of a language closely related to one you know.
  • DC20: Understand the gist of a novel written in a language similar to one you know.
  • DC25: Make yourself roughly understood in a language similar to one you know. This check is charisma-based.
  • DC20: Make yourself roughly understood using gestures and signs. This check is charisma-based.
  • DC30: Understand a few words of an unknown language.
  • DC30: Correctly imitate an accent to sound like a native speaker. This is an opposed check, made against another person's Listen or Speak Language skill, whichever is higher. This is charisma-based. The DM may apply penalties if the language is not one ordinarily spoken by your race.

Custom Skills

Languages

There is no “Common” language. Rouch is the primary language of Rang, and Sarnam is the language of Andrithan religious texts, but other kingdoms and religions may have their own languages.

Learning New Languages: A character begins knowing his native language, plus a number of languages up to his intelligence modifier. Learning a new language requires a month of study, and a DC20 Speak Language check. Retries are permitted. Very skilled characters can reduce the study time by increasing the DC. By raising it to DC30, you can make your check once a week. By raising it to DC40, you can make your check every three days. At DC50, you can make your check once a day. You may not take 10 on this check, but you may take 20 (requiring 20 times the duration of study).

Literacy: You may choose at character creation whether your character is literate. Since literacy is far from normal in this campaign, you'll need to have a reasonable explanation in your character's history.

Combat

Initiative: Initiative is rolled every round. Except in very large combats, all combatants, including individual enemies, roll their own initiative.

Combat Speed: A combat round is not exactly six seconds long. If a lot seems to happen during combat, the battle is said to have taken a long time. Outside of combat, a round is always six seconds.

Critical Hits: A 20 is not an automatic hit. Instead, roll the d20 again and add the result to the initial roll. Repeat if another 20 is rolled. Threat range only applies to the initial die roll, so a natural 20 is always a threat. This applies to attack rolls and saving throws.

Critical Misses: A 1 is not an automatic miss. Instead, treat the roll as a zero and subtract d20. If you roll a 20, subtract another d20. This applies to attack rolls, saving throws and skill checks.

Constitution Drain: Constitution drain can never lower your hit points below the minimum you could have rolled, i.e. one point per level. You still die when your constitution score reaches zero.

Allowed Sources

I use the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual. Material found in any other book may be used with permission. If I don't have access to the book, the material must be quoted to me in full, so I can review it and decide whether it's appropriate for the campaign. Home-brewed material will be considered as well.