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Thread: Making D&D Grittier

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    Default Making D&D Grittier

    Disclaimer: While this short post focuses on D&D 3rd ed./3.5 ed. this can easily be applied to other systems.

    Now I know D&D is the absolute staple RPG. Everyone who has played tabletop has played D&D. The thing is, D&D is a very, very forgiving system often tweaked to the players favor. Now, nobody likes a killer DM but sometimes a party can be almost bullet proof which can often encourage irrational and often stupid behavior. Or maybe you like a bit of risk in combat, either way, here a list of rules I have often used to make campaigns just a tad nastier and grittier.

    1.) Get a copy of Torn Asunder
    This little tome is my bible in terms of critical hits. In fact, this is one of the best little sourcebooks I have read. Inside are some brilliant rules to making critical hits even nastier. This also has proper rules on called shots and a few nasty prestige classes (although best left for NPC characters). Some of these hits are borderline instant kills, others can permantly maim a character.

    2.) Use The Vitality and Wounds Variant
    This is an absolutely wonderful, open source rule variant that can make combat all the riskier. A good critical hit can do some serious damage and possibly put a character on the brink. Yet this also blends very well with torn asunder to make combat very exciting and intricate.

    3.) Make Spellcasting and Advanced Class
    Pick up a copy or find the SRD of D20 Modern and make all spell casters have to pick up an advanced class before they can lob spells. You would be surprised how much this can make combat riskier when characters can only cast Magic Missile at level 4. Apply this across the board with NPCs and it can really help balance out caster. Also, by making them have to pick up another class it also encourages diversification.

    Anyway, I hope this little article helps. Feel free to post your own suggestions.

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    Well. You can try to make D&D into something it's not. But I think we can learn from Michael Jackson that this is not always the best choice.

    Personally I think once you start thinking things like "how can D&D be grittier" it means you've gotten to the point where it's time to try a new game system.

    Want to be a killer GM? Get Paranoia. Simple as that. But remember to make it fun.

    Want grit? Try some cyberpunk/postcyberpunk. Shadowrun and Cyberpunk being solid systems for this.

    Want combat to be a bit messy and them to feel the hurt? I like Deadlands for that. Great game too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sunnyside View Post
    Well. You can try to make D&D into something it's not. But I think we can learn from Michael Jackson that this is not always the best choice.

    Personally I think once you start thinking things like "how can D&D be grittier" it means you've gotten to the point where it's time to try a new game system.

    Want to be a killer GM? Get Paranoia. Simple as that. But remember to make it fun.

    Want grit? Try some cyberpunk/postcyberpunk. Shadowrun and Cyberpunk being solid systems for this.

    Want combat to be a bit messy and them to feel the hurt? I like Deadlands for that. Great game too.
    If I want to be killer, deadly GM I prefer going to Legend of the Five Rings using the Roll and Keep system. You play that game like you would D&D you will be coming to sessions with 4 pre made characters a session.

    The point of this thread is to provide options to DMs who want to add a little spice to a gaming group who refuses to play anything other than D&D. Which I have seen far to often for my liking.

    While I agree that if you want true grit, there are deadlier systems out there. The fact is, D20 is the most played system in the world, and still is thanks to the lovely OGL. People will play it much more than any other (and arguably superior) systems. So I think a gritifying, while only half baked, is a nice easy way for a GM to spice up a D&D game and maybe give the poor PCs a hilarious reality ensues moment.
    Last edited by SGI; 02-10-2009 at 12:34 AM.

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    From my own experience, D&D has the MOST ways of trying to introduce new things to the table for places to go, things to do, and everything else to boot. For changes in the game, I would suggest as well getting a new DM or story teller, because everyone will tell the -exact- same story different, sometimes that alone can be refreshing. As for a new game system, I also suggest switching from a system that involves QUITE so much, to something different. Try WhiteWolf-Vampire, Wraith, KOE(Kindred of the East) - My personal favorite, Mage, or Slayer. All are good, with a lot more detail being done with the character being played, not the numbers on it. This forces the player to play his character, and not worry so much about the +1 to his dex check. The story is almost always involved and quick to boot, so you don't have to worry about having a single battle last for hours and hours. Which is sometimes exactly why D&D gets boring! People don't want to the mindless forever, I -LOVE- plot! I love characters with depth, likes and dislikes, and even defects. Almost always, those are the types of characters that can make or break your campaign.


    D&D has a myriad of ways to alter the game play to whatever you want. ^_^ That's -why- it's my meat and po-ta-toes!
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