[Donjon 2E] errata and house rules

As mentioned in another thread, here is my collection of Donjon errata and house rules I found on The Forge forums. My notes are quite raw. The rules are not all playtested or mutually compatible, but I think there is some good stuff buried in here. :)


  • DICE:

    * Donjon Errata (CRN 2002): If one person rolling the dice in a Test has 0 dice to roll (their character's relevant Attribute is 0, for example, and they have no pertinent Ability), they get to roll one die. The other person, however, gets one extra die to roll in the Test.

    * The Law of Successes 2.0: 1 success = 1 fact AND 1 die. This seems to be a house rule that many people use and it seems to streamline play.
    * But bonus dice must be used for the player's very next action. This is an attempt to simplify players' "bookkeeping" of lingering bonus dice and force them to use the extra bonus dice they would receive from the Law of Successes 2.0.

    * Clinton re even/odd rule: "Damn it. I like this much better than the Donjon system, especially because it means you can use every die in the bag (well, except those d7s), just like D&D was meant to do."

    * OR: Thomas D re even/odd rule: I looked over the evens rule and think that it'd be just as slow as looking through a table full of d20s to find who rolled the most successes. Instead, I'm thinking of using d6s (with pips). Roll and discard everything but fives and sixes (or fours, fives, and sixes). At least for me, I can easily identify pip formations on d6s a lot easier than trying to find all the evens on d10s or d20s. Each five and six is considered a hit, net hits are equal to successes, like in the evens rule.

    * OR: Discussion of Donjon + FUDGE dice: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=7059.0;topicseen

    * During a combat, tied dice count as successes. Outside of combat, tied dice count as failures? Some people felt they had "too many" successes outside of combat and didn't know how to spend so many facts when they weren't in combat. Maybe this just requires more experience and imagination. :)

    * One way to look at it-- a character's main ability is what that character is known for; it's key to their identity. A samurai, for example, might have the main ability, "Carry Out the Emperor's Commands." And then supporting abilities would be lesser things, like "Awesome Swordsman" or whatever.

    Another way to look at it: Donjon has certain subsystems within it. A damage system, an initiative system, a provisions system, etc. If an ability adds dice to one of these sub-systems under all circumstances, it's important enough to be a main ability. (Thus, the fighter's "Hit Things With Weapons" is a main ability.) A supporting ability would give dice to a sub-system, but only under certain circumstances: "Lie convincingly" would add to the Charisma check, but only when you're being deceitful. (Then there are cases like the "Carry Out the Emperor's Commands," which conceivably adds to many different sub-systems, but only when the condition is met. I'd say this is a main ability due to its versatility.)

    * Do not allow Abilities which directly add to Looting rolls (or severely limit available Loot - Level+3 resistance maximum seems reasonable). Otherwise you end up with a mass of over-powered magic items which will allow characters to breeze through to their next level.

    * Maybe require (or just suggest) characters have at least 1 narrative skill and 1 defensive skill?

    * Take a skill that will give you narrative control. Usually these are sensing, finding, or lore/knowledge based skills. Things that I have seen that have been cool: Spot trouble, sense danger, find trap door, find dangerous objects, etc.

    * Take a skill that gives you some form of defense. This can either be a dodging skill, a damage absorbing skill, or else a high attack skill for deadly counterattacks.

    * it doesn't really pay to push any dice pool too far past 10. Usually at this point, you only still get 1-3 successes, when you do actually get a success. You might want to raise other skills and traits before you totally min/max one. Nothing is as disappointing as rolling 16 dice of damage and having it deflect off.

    * Each ability comes with a Focus and a Limit. Focus should be the primary roll this ability affects (like Attack, Dodge, Armor, Damage, Taunt, Blind). Limit should be any limitations (Main Ability has no limitations) such as Fire, Unholy, Airborne. If an ability is listed with the Limit, then that ability must put a success or fact towards this one before this ability can be performed.

    * List of D&D Feats that might make good Donjon Abilities: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/lists/feats
  • MAGIC:

    * Increase default magic difficulty to Medium (3 dice). Clinton says: As for magic - turn the gathering dice difficulty up to Medium if you find them too powerful. I find that their weakness in combat - smack one while he's gathered magic power and see what happens - makes up for the power difference, but I've seen several people feel otherwise.

    * When rolling to release a gathered spell, do not include Cerebrality dice.

    * Magic was weakened, to better effect. Before it was unstoppable. With the revised rules (gathering power = Cerebrality + Magic Ability; casting spell = Successes from gathering power in dice + Magic Ability), magic doesn't take the limelight anymore.

    * Adding Cerebrality to spell casting rolls and only doing Magic Gathering once is a major improvement?

    * More strict limits imposed on words? It seems like you can get any effect out of just about any word. And why bother to link multiple words together, since it just makes the spell less effective?

    * When rolling Initiative, add your Adroitness or Discernment score, whichever is LOWER! This is supposed to encourage both fighters and magic-users to balance their ability scores. Plus, some people think Discernment is too "uber" because it has so much narrative power.

    * Clinton says: - Initiative. I don't see the problem with it being based off Discernment. It makes Discernment more important, which is part of balancing the system. It also gets overshadowed as you go up levels. It's pretty balanced: Discernment gives you more chances to do stuff, but everything else gives you a better ability to do things in those chances. If Discernment's weighted a little heavy - well, I like Discernment. Adroitness is right out, though: using it to get actions and then for actually hitting in those actions makes it monstrously over-used.

    * When rolling Initiative, players ignore their ties among their own Initiative dice, so a player cannot take multiple actions per flurry turn. This is an attempt to speed up flurries and reduce the likelihood of total flurry dominance by characters with tons of initiative dice.

    * Rafail re initiative: My idea was bidding with success to get actions, and then when you are out of successes you are out of actions. So you'd get at most a number of actions equal to the successes you roll. Original Donjon was already handing out far to many actions in a flurry to be entertaining.

    * 2. In order to smash a PC it is necessary to score successes on all damage dice. However once a PC is reduced to 0 Wherewithal it seems actually more dangerous if a monster uses only one die on the damage test, since it will be more likely not to get any failure... is that correct? Consider fixing smashing's inverted difficulty? Weak opponents can smash more easily than strong opponents.

    * Clinton says: As for (2), you're correct again, it seems, although few creatures will ever only have one die for attack. (Rolling less than maximum dice is not ok according to the rules.) It's a bit tricky, as less dice does give a bit better chance of total success for the monster, but characters getting smashed occurs pretty rarely in play. (I tried to design the game to really minimize character death.) I'd rule that at least two dice have to be rolled by the monster to smash a character.

    * To speed up combat and reduce damage whiffs, eliminate the second roll for damage. Roll attacks as normal and, if successful, damage points = (successes + Virility + Weapon DR) - (defender's Wherewithal + Armor DR).

    * Rich Forest says: By the book each attack in combat requires an attack roll versus the target's parry or dodge roll, and then if this roll is successful, you follow it with a damage roll against the target's defenses. Since all rolls are opposed (no static target numbers), this means that to resolve every single attack in combat four rolls must be made (two by the attacker, two by the defender). We reduced it to one by the attacker, one by the defender by collapsing Attack/Damage into one and Defend/Soak into another. Now, when you do this, you do lose some of the character distinctiveness because you don't have (for example) a character who is inaccurate (low attack roll) but strong (high damage roll), or hard to hit (good defense rolls) but easily injured (no armor, low Wherewithal). We were willing to make that sacrifice. I do remember it took a bit of juggling to decide what to count for each roll. I think we just used Virility + one relevant ability + weapon damage for attacks and damage, and we used Wherewithal + one relevant ability + armor for the defense roll. This speeds things up, and we preferred the faster paced combats that it provided.

    * Clinton says: - I like combat as is. Of course, I like D&D combat. I have figured out a way to speed it up (and reduce damage whiffs) that we might try next time. With this method, we roll to attack as normal. If successful, do a number of points of damage equal to (successes + Virility + Damage Rating of weapon) - (opponent's Wherewithal + Damage Rating of armor). It basically eliminates the second roll. You could still use attack successes to state facts and remove them from the damage calculation.

    * A successful hit always does at least 1 point of damage (to prevent damage whiffs).

    * For damage from ranged weapons, add Cerebrality (Discernment is overused) instead of Virility. Thrown and melee weapon damage would still use Virility. An intelligent range attacker uses his smarts to know where his opponent is vulnerable. Plus, this is an attempt to encourage fighters, who might sacrifice their Cerebrality, to balance their ability scores.

    * Characters recover 1 Hit Die after each encounter and 1 Skill Die after each dungeon level (or scene or chapter?). Clinton says: I like the 1 Hit Die back per encounter + 1 Skill Die back per dungeon level idea, and think I will steal it liberally

    * Random rolled, player-assigned Attributes can be dangerous. Even 24 points in total can be overbalancing if they are concentrated in Virility, Adroitness and Wherewithall (and a decent Discernment). Stick to 21 assigned points!

    * When looting for potions:
    1) roll vs Flesh Wounds remaining (instead of Flesh Wounds lost). This makes potions more effective as characters near death (and for low-level characters).
    OR: 2) have the potion add its Worth to Flesh Wounds without any rolling?

    * Monster Abilities (around five skills, one is Main). These work just like standard Donjon. When you use a monster\\\'s Ability, just add it\\\'s value to either Combat or Saves. For every monster, you should include at least one gag and/or seemingly non-effective skill that fleshes it out (like how the orc hermit can Ruminate). Remember that main abilities apply to all of one type of roll without limitations.
    - Clinton on creating monsters: As for natural weapons, one Ability can be used for either the attack Test or the damage Test, but not both. In most sample creatures, I\\\'ve denoted which occurs. This means that you end up with creatures that either:
    a) hit well, but do ok damage
    b) hit rarely, but do horribly nasty damage when they hit

    You can have two Abilities - one for attack and damage - but be careful before you assign this. Unless you want the creature to be a total combat monster, this will be too powerful.
  • edited April 2008

    * Here's the real question for Donjon, though, and one perhaps best saved for another thread: what on earth is a fact? Formalize sentence diagramming?

    * Replace the concept of Donjon Level with [average] Party Level (or just redefine Donjon Level as Party Level). This lets adventures more easily scale to different party levels.

    * fix "6 or 7" to "4 or 5" in Item and Service Worth Table (3-1) (thanks, Dogui!)

    * Do not allow village magic shops (or at least give a massive mark-up).

    * In town, use the level of Hospitality purchased as the Donjon Level vs would-be thieves. Fancy accomodations are less likely to be burgled. The more money you spent on food and lodgings, the less likely you were to be robbed (you might be attracting attention, but the better accomodations should be better-protected, and isn't your glowing +5 sword of munchkinness attracting attention aanyway?). Use the level of hospitality purchased as the effective Donjon level against which a thief would have to work to rob you. This works wonderfully in reverse too - a peasant's hovel is easier for PCs to rob than the king's palace.

    * Consider renaming "Permanent Possessions/Armor/Weapon" to "Prized Possessions/Armor/Weapon". It sound more in-character and explains why the character would lug the same item along on many adventures.
  • Hi, I translated the game for the Spanish version soon to be released. We have many of this fixes and/or errata in the text already. I spent weeks on The Forge getting all this material. I´d have loved to see this a few months back :P
    Posted By: Chris Peterson* fix "6 or 7" to "4 or 5" (can't remember what this note referred to <:-)</blockquote>

    I think this is part of the Item and Service Worth Table (3-1)
    Check it to see what I mean.
  • /me copy paste
  • Thanks for the collection Chris.

    However, i didn't found what i was looking for : a sort of "economy" mechanic that could regulate the flow of success and turn the DM into an opponent player, rather than an omniscient, traditional...wel GM.

    i imagine something like this : the more succes the players (or the GM) get, the more "heroes points" the other side wins. But i don't know really how these points could work. Maybe some areas ot the games could only work with heores points ? (like initiative).
  • We ignored magic completely. If I can call an ability "Autofire Fireballing", why bother with magic rules?
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