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  • M20 House Rules

    Yeah, yeah; I know that the book just got released to the KS Backers. But a key feature of the book is a declared intent to make the game your own; that's one reason why it's chock full of rules variants and options. With that in mind, I'd like to explore house rule ideas above and beyond whan M20 provides. To start off:

    I think the very first house rule I’m going to implement will be to ignore the ±3 limit on magical modifiers: if a lot of circumstances are going against you, the difficulty should skyrocket, even if you're casting a one-dot Coincidental Effect; and I want to reward players who put the work in to get the lower difficulties. Besides, it helps offset the quirk in the system where higher-Sphere Effects inherently have more trouble achieving big effects than lower-Sphere Effects, replacing it instead by higher-Sphere Effects tending to layer on the difficulty-reducing modifiers (i.e., putting more effort into it). There will still be a minimum difficulty; but I think I'll base that strictly on vulgarity (4 for Coincidental Effects, 5 for Vulgar Effects, and 6 for Vulgar Effects with Witnesses).

    The second house rule will be to explicitly tie the “taking extra time” modifiers to your choice of instrument: the more time it takes to use an instrument, the more the difficulty gets reduced. This, as much as a matter of pride, is why a mage might choose to use a slow instrument when an equally suitable fast instrument is available.

    Comments, criticisms, and your own house rules are welcome.



  • #2
    Seems reasonable, though I would be very careful not to let those modifiers run out of hand. The power gamer in me would promptly attempt to stack as many positives as possible, then the thematic gamer would slap the power gamer...and attempt to stack as many themes as possible.

    100% behind taking extra time for profit and glory. Though I might do something fun with options, like taking extra time can reduce paradox, as the Mage's concentrated Will-Over-Time creates a weak Reality Zone.

    Also, this is from another thread, but I'll leave it here as well:

    The following hack is intended to add a more gradated feel to a Mage's growth, as well as to allow for bold acts of hubris in novices, and open up plots in the vain of Frankenstein (Etherite novice creates artificial life, with terrible repercussions) and the Sorcerer's Apprentice (Apprentice hermetic attempts to replicate his mentor's spell, with disastrous results).

    Reaching And Overreaching
    Mages can Reach to achieve magical effects above and beyond those their current Spheres would allow. This is a risky endeavor, as without the experience and enlightenment to fully understand their art the Mage's spell will never come out exactly as intended.
    • Reaching is difficult, every dot added increases the difficulty of the final Effect by one. Should the difficulty pass 10 the Mage must expend Quintessence to reduce it to at least 10 otherwise the Effect is impossible to achieve. However, while Quintessence can reduce the difficult down the the base ([4 or 5] + Highest Sphere) it can never reduce it to less than the base difficulty of the Effect.
    • Irregardless of Effect, spells cast through Reaching are always Vulgar. Furthermore, each dot added to achieve the effect tacks an additional point of Paradox onto the spell. Quintessence may not be spent to negate these additional Paradox points.
    • Succeed or Fail the Storyteller immediately, and unavoidably rolls for Paradox. In addition to all repercussions found on the Paradox Backlash Roll chart the storyteller may opt to inflict Faults in place of damage, Paradox Flaws, Quiet and other repercussions.
    • Faults are flaws in the effect of the spell itself, causing the Effect to come out skewed or even contrary to the original intent. Faults add a new option to the Paradox roll for Reach spells.
      • Minor Fault (1-5 Successes): A small, but inconvenient change in the spell that creates complications for the Mage. Her mystical fire cannot be extinguished by water or dirt, his ray gun emits a powerful magnetic field that bricks all nearby electronics.
      • Significant Fault (6-10 Successes): Something goes seriously wrong with the spell, it may still accomplish its purpose, but not in the way it was intended. A mystical portal through space leads instead to a bizarre Umbral mirror of the intended destination. A transformation curse, while effective, bends the Mage's mind to that of the beast form she has taken.
      • Severe Fault (11 - 15 Successes): It's all buggered, the spell goes totally haywire. Even if it somehow manages to achieve the intended effect, it does so with disastrous consequence. An attempt to revive the dead instead summons into the body a cunning, powerful and malicious spirit, well equipped to masquerade as it's familiar host. What should have been a simple rain dance instead conjures an ever growing storm that soon threatens the entire reguin.
      • Fuck All (16+ Successes): The Mage has truly, epicly fucked up. If the Fault doesn't kill him outright it will haunt him for the rest of his days. A mad scientist's creature creation proves malignant, and worse, unkillable, it haunts him as a constant shadow through his life.
    • Spells for which the Mage does not meet the requirements can never be declared Rotes, no matter how often the Mage attempts them
    A Note On Reach: If the character intends to reach more than one or two dots they need to have a justification as to how they can even attempt such a spell (Ex. I witnessed my master perform it as a Rote. I have this ancient Egyptian manuscript detailing the working. It is the logical, upscaled extension of my current practice. My character has been obsessed with this goal ever since he awakened, etc.)

    A Note On Faults: Faults exist as means for the Storyteller to maintain drama and action. As a general rule of thumb a Reach spell should never completely solve a problem. At best it will trade complications, at worst it can create an entirely new, more severe problem. The key here is the focus on what is fun for the players. Inverting every Reach Effect into a terrible punishment isn't fun, and should be reserved only for the most flagrant power gaming.
    Last edited by PenDragon; 05-20-2015, 03:06 PM.


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    • #3
      I'm dropping the necessity of Certification for some things, mainly weapons. Mainly because I don't see the necessity in making a guy from New York invest two dots of background to legally own a pistol when the character from just across the border in Pennsylvania gets the same thing for free. I get that it models reality more closely (unless your ST is clueless about American firearms law and makes everyone have a "permit"), but it's the kind of small thing that will piss off some of my players, and I expect we'll be touching up character sheets to be "M20-compliant" soon.

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      • #4
        House rule I'm using will be aiming the spell with an actual roll like Perception + Occult or such for Fireball and not Arete. Don't know how you dodge a lightning bolt with ease. Either way, makes Forces almost useless in magic since a single success will beat a Mage. That's such a stupid rule, I don't know why they even added it. Not playing NWoD, why am I rolling to do damage and not to hit?

        Better question is how do you DODGE a freaking curse?

        "Well I felt that damn mage tossing a curse at me so I side step it and dodge the thing! Teach that punk nerd to mess with me!"
        Last edited by theoutlander523; 05-19-2015, 08:17 PM.


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        • #5
          I think your house rule it's in fact canon in 3º edition, or at least optional. (You target with Dexterity + the appropriate skill (Occult, Energy Weapons...whatever) and you don't evade curses, because they aren't "energy based attacks"). The old "dodge magick" was just as you described it, an awful and preposterous rule that was added in a very old book: "the Book of Shadows".

          Don't know how you dodge a lightning bolt with ease.
          Neither do I, but if you can dodge bullets, even at point blank range...
          Last edited by Aleph; 05-19-2015, 08:36 PM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by PenDragon View Post
            Seems reasonable, though I would be very careful not to let those modifiers run out of hand. The power gamer in me would promptly attempt to stack as many positives as possible, then the thematic gamer would slap the power gamer...and attempt to stack as many themes as possible.
            That's not an oversight; that's the intended behavior: the goal is to have a fairly stable set of difficulties (4, 5, or 6, depending on vulgarity), but with high-Sphere requirements and/or troublesome circumstances translating to the mage putting a lot more effort into performing the Effect.


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            • #7
              Originally posted by Morimaruvik View Post
              I'm dropping the necessity of Certification for some things, mainly weapons. Mainly because I don't see the necessity in making a guy from New York invest two dots of background to legally own a pistol when the character from just across the border in Pennsylvania gets the same thing for free. I get that it models reality more closely (unless your ST is clueless about American firearms law and makes everyone have a "permit"), but it's the kind of small thing that will piss off some of my players, and I expect we'll be touching up character sheets to be "M20-compliant" soon.


              Yeah 3xp to be able to go hunting or fishing is kind of crazy

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              • #8
                Even with an XP cost for Backgrounds staying in M20, it isn't a "must use" rule fairly explicitly. Certification can be a by narrative Background instead of an XP purchased on. Getting a Certification is then only as hard as it is in universe.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                  Even with an XP cost for Backgrounds staying in M20, it isn't a "must use" rule fairly explicitly. Certification can be a by narrative Background instead of an XP purchased on. Getting a Certification is then only as hard as it is in universe.

                  ok I find "Hunting Liscence" a bit too low a priority for it to be statted

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                    Even with an XP cost for Backgrounds staying in M20, it isn't a "must use" rule fairly explicitly.
                    Oh, totally. Which is why I don't feel bad at all for dropping it. It's not like dropping, say, Paradox.

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                    • #11
                      I'm still using my "Coincidental, Hidden, Vulgar" variant of Paradox. Basically, in this version, there's no such thing as "vulgar without witnesses." Coincidental magick is just that -- either something that could happen by the odds, or magick that's wrapped in the local paradigm and thus "possible" by Consensus. Vulgar magick is the impossible, witnessed by Sleepers, who go, "that's impossible!" Hidden is everything in between -- magick that isn't seen by Sleepers. It might be Copperfielding, that wrench in the backpack that wasn't there before, levitating your car out in BFE when no one's around, active telepathy between mages (and/or Night-Folk/Sleepwalkers), etc. It has the same base difficulty as vulgar without witnesses, but doesn't cause auto-paradox -- you only get Paradox on a failure or botch. To compensate, Vulgar magick is even more dangerous based on how many people saw you. A mage automatically gets extra paradox for every factor of ten in people who witnessed your impossibility -- one for 1-9, two for 10+, three for 100+, four for 1000+, and a maximum of five for 10,000+ (after that, the law of diminishing returns shows some mercy on the mage). Failures double this number, and botches start with the doubled nunber and add two for each botch die as usual. It's bad.

                      This allows for more of a 1st edition "katanas on rooftops" feel (at least by the art), where magick is fantastic and everywhere, but using it in front of mundanes is an absolute last resort. It also makes the Traditions' position considerably less precarious...which also has the side effect of making the Traditions' devotion to the Sleepers more tenuous. While a lot of Trad mages are still the good guys, there are quite a few (especially Hermetics) who are perfectly happy as secret masters, free to work their magick as they Will, Consensus be damned. Meanwhile, the Technocracy is both a beneficiary and a victim of this effect, able to deploy hypertech freely away from the Masses, but the RDs can do the same with their impossible atavisms. (In my default campaign, this is a result of the Reckoning, which went down differently than Revised canon. Yes, it does have epic, far-reaching consequences when the Awakened realize that Paradox transformed underneath them...)


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                      • #12
                        Not exactly a houserule so much as a backpeddle, I plan to entirely ignore the Totem background in M20 in favor of the older one. I do not like the new one one bit.



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                        • #13
                          Please elaborate: how do they differ?


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                          • #14
                            The old Totem rules basically worked like WtA Totems: Totems have a minimum background rating, granting traits and/or powers, as well as a ban; and you could improve it with more points.

                            The new Totem rules work very differently, as pointed out in M20, to stress a different relationship. They're more narrative based, with a small set bonus to 1 Ability, Cosmology, and Lore.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                              The old Totem rules basically worked like WtA Totems: Totems have a minimum background rating, granting traits and/or powers, as well as a ban; and you could improve it with more points.

                              The new Totem rules work very differently, as pointed out in M20, to stress a different relationship. They're more narrative based, with a small set bonus to 1 Ability, Cosmology, and Lore.
                              Yeah, that. I liked the older way better, when you basically made a spirit fragment of the totem that stayed with you, rather than something more far off and out of the way. And of course I liked the more flexible benefits, too. The new way just seems stifling to me.



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