Monday, February 4, 2013

BareBones Fantasy: Offensive Strike

One of the ongoing debates among players and GMs of DWD Studio's BareBones Fantasy roleplaying game is the potency of the Offensive Strike spell (the game's primary direct damage attack for spell casters). As written, the spell has a range of 10 spaces per caster level in the Spellcaster skill, an unlimited usage, and a damage of 1d10 + (1d10 per caster level in the Spellcaster skill) to single targets (and half that amount to victims within 3 spaces of the target space). This damage cannot be reduced by normal armor. Coupled with the game's rules for multiple actions (-20 percentage points to each action after the first), the official version of the spell makes for increasingly powerful magic-users. I.e., a beginning character (one with Spellcaster at Rank 1) can quite easily throw two Offensive Strikes in a single turn, doing 2D10 armor-ignoring damage each time. My friend Mike's playtest wizard threw the spell at this level and was probably the most effective combat in our battle against the ghouls of the Maidens of Moordoth adventure.

I've been pondering a house rule to "fix" the spell that doesn't completely defang it: I like the spell's ability to bypass normal armor, and I don't mind that a hero with Rank 6 Spellcaster (the highest level of ability in the game) does approximately the same amount of damage with a single fireball that a Rank 6 Warrior does with three blows from a longsword (damage of 2D10+1 plus additional bonuses for high STR). But there is a bit of a problem when the wizard can do that level of damage three or four times in a turn.

So here's what I'm thinking: everything about Offensive Strike remains the same with the exception of the usage value. "Unlimited" is replaced with "1/turn." A spellcasting hero needs some time to recharge his armor-piercing attack magic, and that cooldown period is a single combat turn. A low-level wizard (someone at Rank 1 or 2) is going to have a reduction in their attack potency (compared to melee and missile-oriented characters), but they will also have several other spells to chain each turn with their Offensive Strike.

Thoughts? Things I haven't anticipated?


  1. I should add that I prefer fixes that follow the simple spirit of the BBF rules, something I think this change does.

  2. I think that's the simplest solution. Simple is usually best-avoids the unintended consequences that really mess things up.

    Just got my hard-copy in the mail today. Less than a week since I ordered it. Still waiting on HOW, but it's only been a week, so no complaint in truth.

  3. While this game does seem interesting, yours is not the first time I've heard that mages are the big dogs. I hope there is a 'revised' version that tones magic down just a little bit.

    1. It's not so much that mages are the big dogs as that Rank 6 in Warrior just means your bonus to hit is +60. No special warrior abilities at all. Granted, at that rank, a fighter with Warrior Primary is going to be getting their first attack off at 100+% and having reasonably high chances of landing second and third attacks each round. So you're going to be doing something like 6-7d10 of damage a round. Not shabby. But that's a single action's worth of damage for the Rank 6 Spellcaster. Which is where the problem emerges.

  4. How about: Winding up the spell/recharging requires staying stock still in some yoga position?

    Or, spell remains unchanged but the mage must be standing adjacent to a fire?