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Dungeons & Dragons: Temple of Elemental Evil Board Game» Forums » Variants

Subject: Make the combat a little deeper with 5e rules. rss

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Pete Ainsworth
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I'm new here, so bear with me (and forgive me if what I'm about to say sounds silly).

We'll call the system 5e Lite.

I've been playing The Temple of Elemental Evil because I was looking for a D&D experience that I could play solo (being a carer I don't always have time to get out to my local gamer group) and I'm enjoying it, and have been making my own scenarios for it, but I'm finding the combat rules a little annoying when monsters turn up. In the current system a monster effectively gets a free attack on you because your hero phase ends when you uncover a new tile. And if you get a black triangle on the new tile you also trigger an encounter, which is even more HP lost that you can’t always avoid. This I thought was a little bit of an unfair system, so I’m working on something different.

What I propose is a initiative system, which I’m surprised is something they’ve missed out of the game, a hero phase, exploration phase and a combat phase. At the start of the game the players all roll initiative (we’ll call it movement initiative), these determine the hero phase turns and the one with the highest moves first and enters hero phase. In hero phase the player can move and disable traps, use potions, items and spells as per the normal board game rules. If that player moves to the edge of a tile a new tile is drawn from the deck as normal. If that tile has monsters, the monsters are placed and if it has an encounter you roll a d20 with a DC of 10 (or more if you want to make it tougher) to see if that encounter takes place.

You then enter combat phase. Now you roll combat initiative for players and monsters and you take turns accordingly as per normal 5e combat. All monsters and players can move, but no new tiles are revealed until you're back in hero phase. Obviously for this to work properly the enemies will need more HP than they currently have in the base game, so I propose adding 5 to each one if using heroes from the base game. You could also just use the HP and combat stats for each one from the Monster Manual, but I think you’d have to create some proper 5e characters to ensure they were robust enough. When the combat is complete you re-enter movement phase with the next player as determined by the movement initiative at the start of the game.

That's my current idea for spicing up the combat a little. It may need a few tweaks.

A quick edit with regard to traps. I find the best way to proceed is to assume all heroes cannot see the traps. If you have a rogue they can do a perception check in their hero phase with a DC of 10 (again you can make it easier or harder) and if it succeeds it reveals all traps on that tile so all characters can see them, but you won't know what they are until you attempt to disarm them. You might make it so that the rogue gets the first move at the start of the game but then moves according to his initiative after that. I tend to play with just the rogue being able to disable traps, but you can always stick to the base rules of the board game if you wish.
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Gabriel Conroy
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Interesting idea. Have you seen this series of videos, about using the AS games as a framework for a 5th ed D&D solo game?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kieUYaGjmeM&list=PLbwiJfM4el...
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Pete Ainsworth
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I'd not see that video series. It might give me some ideas, thanks
 
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peter cooman
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I have recently bought the 'mines of phandelver" starter set to try something similar, adding passive perception to the monsters, and have more degrees of levelling.

Still have to start 'melting' the two sets of rules togheter, but those movies were my original inspiration! (the characters he uses are from that starter set anyway)
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Pete Ainsworth
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I have the Mines of Phandelver starter set, I've played the story through a few times.

I've been playing some games of ToEE with my variant rule set, might have a few additions to make later.
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Fred Thomas
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Some other ideas to prevent these ambushes are to place tiles wherever you have a 12 square line of sight off an edge, and/or to allow the readying of attacks so that you get in the first blow when a monster charges. You could use Space Hulk overwatch markers to indicate this.
 
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Pete Ainsworth
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I'll try that. I have Space Hulk here.

I've been experimenting with perception checks (with a DC of 10) to see if the heroes see the monsters before they attack, instead of rolling initiative every time. If the hero sees the monster it doesn't attack first. Seems to work well.

I also played with the idea of using saving throws against traps and encounters (again with a DC of 10) and that seemed to work quite well too. Kept the game nice and random.

At the moment I've got a nice little hybrid between D&DAS rules and 5e rules.
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peter cooman
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IF you ever write them down, feel free to put them here!
 
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Pete Ainsworth
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Will do. I'm just playing through a few games and making tweaks. Once I've done that I'll get them posted.
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Pete Ainsworth
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Here's what I have so far. I think I've covered everything. I've played with both the board game characters and the characters from the D&D 5th edition starter set and it seems to work okay. If you have any questions or suggestions let me know.

D&D Adventure System "5e Lite" Rules

1) Movement Initiative

At the start of a new scenario all the heroes roll movement initiative to determine who moves first.

2) Exploration Phase

When exploring the dungeon follow these steps:

The heroes move in turn to uncover dungeon tiles*.
The heroes move up to their movement speed unless affected by a condition.
If the dungeon tile has a black triangle, or if you didn't place a dungeon tile during your turn, it will trigger an encounter.
If the dungeon tile has traps nobody can see the traps until a Rogue performs a perception check (DC 10). The Rogue can attempt to disable any traps he or she finds (DC 10).
If the dungeon tile has one or more monsters you enter the Combat Phase.

*If a Rogue is in the party, he or she moves first at the start of the game but takes their normal place as rolled by initiative on subsequent turns.

3) Combat Phase

When you encounter monsters follow these steps:

Heroes and monsters roll combat initiative. (alternatively roll initiative for the monsters and use the players movement initiative for their combat turns)
The heroes move to their movement speed unless affected by a condition.
Monsters move in accordance to the instructions on their card*.
Increase the monsters HP (I choose to add 5HP but you may raise or lower it to make the game easier or harder)*.
If you hit an enemy roll 1d4 for damage.
When moving during this phase landing on the edge of a tile does not reveal a new one until combat is over.
When all monsters are defeated draw one treasure card. The card goes to the player who was in Exploration Phase before combat began.
When combat is over return to Movement Phase with the next player as determined by movement initiative.

*If playing with D&D 5th edition characters use monster stats from the D&D Monster Manual and adjust for hero level. These monsters move as per 5th edition rules.

4) Healing:

Healing surges can be used at the start of a turn by any player who drops to 0HP if playing using heroes from the board game. If using 5th edition characters heal as per normal 5e rules.

5) Villains

In Combat Phase villains take turns as per their initiative roll and are treated like any other monster.
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Christopher
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Why change the HP for monsters and make all damage 1d4?
 
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Pete Ainsworth
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It's a rule I added if you're playing as a party. You can dispense with it if playing with one hero.

I found that with the standard board game characters nearly all the monsters have 1 HP. If a tile only has one monster and its initiative roll is lower than all the heroes it usually dies before it gets a chance to act, making the game a bit too easy.

In a test game yesterday I got a tile that had 3 monsters and they all rolled lower than the heroes in initiative. I had a party of 5 heroes and with the monsters all having 1HP the monsters were all dead before they could act.

Changing the HP of the monsters to 5HP (or 5HP for monsters with 1HP and 6HP for monsters with 2HP) keeps them alive for long enough to be something of a threat. The 1d4 damage was because I wanted make it so a hit didn't kill a monster right away, but good hit could severely weaken it.

Monsters on the other hand deal damage according to their stat cards.

You ignore this rule if playing with 5e characters and play as you would according to your character sheet and monster stats.

If you have any alternative suggestions, feel free to post them and I'll test it out and see how it plays.
 
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Christopher
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What if you remove healing surges?
 
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Pete Ainsworth
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I left the healing surges in for the standard board game heroes but I don't use them with 5e characters.

I've not taken them out for the standard characters because most of the healing power cards are one use only and you can run out very quickly.
 
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Luca C
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Very nice idea,
I myself play a similar home-made version, and had very much fun with it.
But for initiative I use a deck of playing cards as Savage Worlds rpg
I also added for each encounter ability checks, saves exc...
of course I had to create proper "lite" 5e characters.
In the next times I'd like trying to add also some combat tactics but it requires a bit of work.

p.s. for HPs' I'm going to try a variant that I found here somewhere
I made all HPs for monsters and Heroes x3 and for each 1 DMG I roll 1d4
(1DMG = 1d4 / 2DMG = 2d4 exc...)

 
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Pete Ainsworth
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Hi Luca. Nice ideas, I'll try adding them and see what I get during my next game.
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Fred Methot
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peteuplink wrote:

What I propose is a initiative system, which I’m surprised is something they’ve missed out of the game
They haven't "missed it out"... they deliberately not added it in.
The D&D Adventure System was/is meant to be a watered down version of 4E, so they removed quite a few things from the core system to make it a "simple" boardgame.

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Pete Ainsworth
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I get that it's a simple board game. But just because it's meant to be simple doesn't mean it can't be improved or added to.

Speaking as a games developer (video games not board games) they could have spent a bit more time working on the balancing of the game. The lack of an initiative system means that any spawned enemies effectively get a free attack on the players before they have time to act, and the inclusion of the encounters system means that players can lose a lot of HP very early on in an adventure, especially if you're unlucky enough to pull out a lot of dungeon tiles with black triangles on them (getting several "Rage of Imix" cards at the very start can seriously mess up your session). They've obviously noticed this and come up with the rather ham fisted healing surges (which is a bit like having a big gaping hole in the game and trying to fix it with a band aid), but I can't help but feel that the system could have been much better designed with the addition of an initiative system that gives everyone, player or monster an equal chance to act during combat.

That's why I came up with "5e Lite", to keep the simple game play of the board game with a slightly deeper, and fairer, combat system, and to try and keep some more of the core D&D gameplay in place, which I think is sorely missing from the board game versions.

One of the beauties of D&D and other tabletop RPG's is the fact that you can create your own home brew systems based on the rule set. This is what I've done with the board games, to add, what I think, is a better combat system. I liked it, so I shared it here. Nobody has to use it, I'm not bending your arm. If you're happy with the board game as it is, then fine. All I'm doing is suggesting an alternative way to play, which was designed for people like myself who enjoy playing D&D but don't always have the luxury of playing with friends (I'm a carer so don't always have the time to go to my local games store to play).

They may have deliberately left initiative out, but in doing so I think they also left out the most important aspect of a board game... Fun! From experience of playing the board games with others I can say for certain that a lot of enemies and encounters very early on can result in some very frustrated players and the game can often end up abandoned before completion.
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peter cooman
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I just use the simple fix for playing the boardgame.

Black arrow, you draw the monster, white arrow, the monster goes to the player on your left and he has a chance to act before it activates.

Makes it more fun for me.
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Pete Ainsworth
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That's cool. I think we can all agree that the games as originally designed have a bit of a flaw in the design of how monsters and encounters are handled. If you're unlucky enough to get several encounters, you've pretty much lost all hope of reaching the end of adventure villain.

As I said in an above post, even a simple "saving throw" mechanic would have helped when you drew a monster or encounter.

The main reason I came up with the "5e Lite" system is because, as I've said before, I can't always play with a group. I don't know any people to play with using a virtual table online, so I came up with modifying the board games rules so I can play without a DM. I wanted something a little deeper than the D&DAS rules.

It may sound a bit odd, but when you're stuck in the house most of the day looking after someone, you start looking for new things to break the monotony.

Now, as I said, if people don't want to use the system I've come up with, fine. I'm having some fun with it so I thought I'd post it here so others can try it out.
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peter cooman
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I will definately try it out, as i stated before, i already bought the starter set for that purpose.

But i work in shifts, so sometimes i don't have the time to do something more complicated, so i play the boardgame as-is, but with my black arrow- white arrow initiative rule.

Also, i always play through the entire adventure with the rules as printed, replaying scenarios that i fail untill i complete them all.

Only after that i start to tinker with them.

For the moment i have completed ashardalon and TOEE, but am stuck at the last 2 adventures in ravenloft, i always seem to go down against strahd and his lieutenant.

LOD has been played untill adventure 4, but that is the least fun one for me i think. I hope it becomes better now , since after scenario 4 you mix in the advanced deck. I found it a bit boring using the same powers over and over again.

But right now i'm messing around with dungeon command (i just bought all of the factions), and the outdoor tiles look interesting for a mash-up of adventure system/ 5E , to use for 'inbetween ' encounters. Not everything happens in a dungeon after all!
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Christopher
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Adding a bunch of extra dice rolls and saving throws makes the game take longer, adds complexity, and reduces difficulty. Those traits may be preferable to some people, but their absence isn't an objective flaw.
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corum irsei
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peteuplink wrote:
Speaking as a games developer (video games not board games) they could have spent a bit more time working on the balancing of the game. The lack of an initiative system means that any spawned enemies effectively get a free attack on the players before they have time to act, and the inclusion of the encounters system means that players can lose a lot of HP very early on in an adventure, especially if you're unlucky enough to pull out a lot of dungeon tiles with black triangles on them (getting several "Rage of Imix" cards at the very start can seriously mess up your session). They've obviously noticed this and come up with the rather ham fisted healing surges (which is a bit like having a big gaping hole in the game and trying to fix it with a band aid), but I can't help but feel that the system could have been much better designed with the addition of an initiative system that gives everyone, player or monster an equal chance to act during combat.
Err, sorry you got it all backwards. The D&D Adventure System Board games originally used simplified D&D 4e rules. So, healing surges were the premise, not an afterthought.

What you believe to be a flaw is the _result_ of the designers' balancing efforts: For the system to be properly balanced, monsters _must_ always attack first. The Legend of Driz'zt set included some hero abilities that changed this and promptly resulted in the game becoming too easy.
Likewise the encounters have been introduced and designed exactly as they are to prevent players from dawdling and ensure that game length remains predictably short. This was a design goal, and I happen to agree with their reasoning.

There's plenty of other, more complex dungeon crawlers if that's the kind of gameplay you prefer.
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This is actually a great post!! I also use some house rules to prevent the monster to have an automatic attack every time the player discover them. Basically I allowed the players to continue using their movement points left after they explored a tile so that way they could escape to another tile. I also use line of sight when attacking.


However, The idea of using the monsters manual and the 5ed characters sheet is fantastic. I'll give it a try !



How do you balance the encounter? That would be the question I have. Do you just use whatever stats the monster have in the monsters manual?

Good job.
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Pete Ainsworth
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jhaelen wrote:


There's plenty of other, more complex dungeon crawlers if that's the kind of gameplay you prefer.
It's not "gameplay I prefer". I enjoy the biard game in it's original form. HOwever, as I said previously, I'm a carer and can't often get to play proper D&D with a group so I adapted the board game rules so that I could enjoy some D&D game time solo. So that I could create simple adventure scenarios and have them play out without a DM. It seemed to work ok so I decided to share it here so other people who may want to try it out can.

I'm not trying to destroy the original board game or say that there's anything badly wrong with it, nor am I trying to say "Hey look! My game is better!" I'm just offering an alternative way to play, because, you know, this is a forum for offering ideas for game variants, so there are no need for combative and or argumentative posts.

If you don't like it, don't play it...
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