Minimum Hit Points for Unadventurous XP Accumulation

Please consider the following rule and share your feedback. It is intended for ACKS-Heroic Companion as an optional rule to allow for Conan to choke the King of Aquilonia to death on the throne, Beowulf/Hrothgar type, and similar situations, although it can be readily purposed for any campaign.

If more than half the XP a character earns at any given level of experience are from unadventurous sources, the character automatically rolls the minimum result on any hit dice gained when advancing to the next level of experience. For purposes of this rule, unadventurous sources of XP include:

  • XP earned from ruling a domain that the character received from inheritance or gift, rather than settling or conquest
  • XP earned from magic research performed as an assistant
  • XP earned from hijinks performed for a boss
    A character who is actively adventuring or on campaign may decline to accept experience points from unadventurous sources if desired in order to make sure he does not go over 50%.

EXAMPLE: Sedentavik is a 9th level fighter. He has reached 9th level entirely through managing the vast estate he inherited from his father, and has never adventured, gone to war, or conquered or founded new settlements. Born with STR 13, INT 12, WIS 9, DEX 11, CON 13, CHA 11, he is now middle-aged, reducing him to STR 11, DEX 9, CON 11. At 1st level, he rolled 5hp. Since then he has earned the minimum hp at each level, putting him at (5+8) 13hp. He has not lacked for training from the finest sword-masters, so his attack throw is 5+ and he deals 1d6+4 damage with his sword.

Meanwhile, Aektivar is a 4th level fighter who has adventured his entire career. He has STR 16, INT 11, WIS 10, DEX 10, CON 13, CHA 9 and 22 hit points. His attack throw is 6+ (base 8+, modified by 2) and he hits for 1d6+4 damage (+2 from class, +2 from STR) with his sword. Aektivar travels to Sedentavik’s great hall and challenges him to a duel for the throne, according to the traditions of these people I have invented for this example. Even though Sedentavik is many levels higher, Aektivar wins by virtue of his superior ability scores and hp.

After winning the throne, Aektivar retires from adventuring. He advances over the years to 9th level himself, all from unadventurous sources. When he hits middle age, his STR erodes to 14, his DEX to 8, and his CON to 11. He has only (22-4 from lowered CON) + (1/level from levels 5-9) 23hp. His attack throw is 4+ and he deals 1d6+5 damage. He is still a formidable combatant from the point of view of a normal man. But he is nowhere as mighty as he would have been had he continued adventuring and reached 9th level as a young man.

I like it. It gives that feeling of “civilized decadence,” where the nobles may be trained, but they don’t have the raw vigor of adventurers.

As a House Rule, I would add in that if 25-49% of experience comes from the same sources, the character rolls a hit die one size smaller than normal for that level (so 1d6 for fighters, 1d4 for clerics, 1d3 for mages).

Definitely like it for flavor, but I question how much extra work it might add. (“Extra work” meaning both “bookkeeping” and “arguing with yourself (…or your players) about what is and isn’t ‘unadventurous’”.)

APM: …an optional rule to allow for Conan to choke the King of Aquilonia to death on the throne…

I never knew I wanted a rule for this, but now I do. I’ll be honest, I’m tearing up a little.

I think ACKS has a pretty strong command of how XP is gained in which ways, and I don’t think it’d be that much bookkeeping - espc. once you get to the domain ruelrship level and that sweet, sweet & filthy domain XP starts trickling in, what with all the other stuff that’s already being tracked.

Now, the obvious add-on rule is a reaction roll bonus based on percentage of possible max HP a character has, so that yon maidens know where to swoon.

After some further cogitation, I think I’m more on board with a 2-die drop, say:

1d8 → 1d4
1d6 → 1d3
1d4 → 1d2

just as it seems a bit like the same handwaving I do giving all my mobs average HP setting it to a single point. There’s always hope the fencing master was particularly hard on you the past three months.

Furthermore, I’m about 2/3rds of the way through Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy, which ain’t bad. (I see a lot of D@W in it, Glokta is a walking advertisement for the Mortal Wounds table, etc.) I’m getting a heaping helping of the difference betwixt the idle nobility who run wars because they’re of rank versus actual fighting men, which may be part of the reason I was so gleeful about the rule.

At any rate, I’d even go so far as to support going further - 50% of your XP may begin to sap you of your verve, but 75% or more begins to sap you of more.

(this is super fiddly)

75%+ - you drop one category in save and attack throw progression, but not proficiencies. Fighter-types begin to advance as clerics, clerics as mages, and mages cease to advance entirely. One starts at the first level of the new progression - fighters would require two more levels before receiving an improvement (as a 3rd level cleric).

One entire level of 100% adventuring XP would be required to recover and advance normally.

Two themes from the fiction I’ll use to prop this up:

-) There’s always a difference from one that spent all his time training to fight, versus the one who trained by surviving. That difference between a life and death situation and play with blunt swords is what causes the full advancement rate.

-) In the top example, Conan choking out Numedides, that’s brawling in ACKS, and that involves Numedides’ saving throws, which really ought to be as soft as the rest of him.

But it is super-fiddly. Avoid fiddly rules by always adventuring.

Always Be Adventuring - ale and whores are for closers.

I really like the concept. I don’t like the rule as presented for two reasons: 1) it seems to be more bookkeeping than it’s worth, 2) it doesn’t hit all classes equally… d8 HD classes are affected more so than d4 classes. If it sticks, then roll 2 dice each level… keep the lower value would be fairer. Another option would be dX-1.

You can accomplish the same end by simply declaring “this guy is decadent so he’ll have below average hp”… and make it so.

Related to this… Ever since I ran across this gentleman’s website, I’ve been contemplating a “knife to the throat scenario” for a heroic-styled game:

A more granular option, off the top of my head so it probably has severe problems.

For every X,000 XP (I tried 1,000 at first, but I think that comes out to be basically the same thing anyway; 2,000 or 4,000 might work out better) a character gains by unadventurous means, they have a -1 penalty on their next hit die roll. Gaining a level and rolling a hit die consumes the penalty and starts over. All hit dice retain the minimum of 1 HP gained.

Doing this allows for more granularity, and more difference between fighters and wizards; a d8-1 is still very likely to be above d4-1. It also allows for the low levels to be gone through with only minor penalties. This is both a pro and a con. On the pro side, it accurately reflects that it’s much easier to be trained in the fundamentals than it is to be trained in the advanced topics, and so training has less of a penalty at low levels. On the con side, it means that at low levels, you might end up tracking this and have it not matter at all, thus being wasted effort (if you gain only 500 unadventurous XP in a level, you’ve tracked something that ended up not mattering).

The Constitution modifier could be applied before the penalty if desired (thus allowing the penalty to negate Con mod, which it would do very rapidly), or after the penalty (so a character with 18 Con would gain a minimum of 4 HP per level regardless of how adventurous they are).

Having 1 HP per HD for all levels except 1 gets you 12.5 HP at level 9. HP values at level 9 for various thresholds of XP per penalty:
1,000 XP: 15.125
2,000 XP: 17.75
4,000 XP: 21.25
8,000 XP: 24.75

Full fighter HP: 40.5

A wizard with the same assumptions:
1,000 XP: 10.75
2,000 XP: 11.5
4,000 XP: 13
8,000 XP: 14.5

Full wizard HP: 22.5

At 4,000 XP, the wizard loses 9.5 HP and the fighter loses 19.25. This proportion is very similar to the percentage of their actual hit points at full (the wizard having 55% of the fighter’s hit points, the penalty being 49%.) I feel like it’s a good sweet spot for me if I were to use a rule like this. Overall, I just felt like doing some math, so I have way more numbers here than are necessary for any reasonable person.

Here is a slightly different take on this.

Wealth and luxury makes a man soft and weak. During the winter season of each year, inactive characters must roll on the Civilized Decadence table. A character is considered to be inactive if, in the prior year, he did not earn at least 10% of his current experience from adventuring or warfare.

EXAMPLE: Marcus is a 7th level fighter with 70,000 XP. He spends most of Imperial Year 381 ruling a county he has claimed from past deeds. In Spring 381, however, when his county is menaced by a dragon, he slays the creature and captures its hoard, earning 9,000 XP. Marcus has avoided civilized decadence.

Civilized Decadence table (roll 2d6)
2 Decrepitude: Luxurious living devours your youth. Age 10 years.
3-5 Weakness: Lose 1 point of STR permanently.
6-8 Decadence: Lose 1 hp permanently.
9-11 Laziness: Lose 1 point of CON permanently.
12: Exhaustion. Civilized life has sapped your vigor. Lose 1 hit point per level.
[NEED FEEDBACK ON TABLE!!! - creative input solicited]

Characters can recover from civilized decadence by earning XP from adventuring or war. Each 10% of their current XP earned removes one penalty. Penalties are removed in the order they were gained.

Some high-level casters are able to curse characters with decadence, and/or remove such curses.

Does the XP regained for recovery also count towards level advancement? (I’d say no, just to be mean)

Other effects:

Unpracticed: -1 to attack throws

Sluggish: -1 to AC from Dexterity, or Swashbuckling-sort of sources

Enervated: -1 to damage throws

Distracted: -1 to Surprise

Might be class (or stronghold type) based too, same names, different effects (or not, I’m only going so far into the thesaurus here):


Unpracticed: targets gain +1 to saving throws

Unfocused: -1 to all damage die

(I’d assume mages get soft through too much book-learnin’, hence I wouldn’t necessarily do magic research type penalties)

Thieves (too much time off the streets being management):

Unpracticed: -1 to all skill throws

Clumsy: -1 to Hide/Move Silently throws

Unfocused: -1 to Traps, Open Locks

Distracted: -1 to Surprise

Gone Soft: -1 Backstab Multiplier

Here’s a better one - your decadence should be visible to others as well: what about a penalty to realm/urban/domain taxes collected, as you’re starting to look a bit weak to your vassals and subjects and they think they might be able to get away with it?

Penalty to duty rolls perhaps? Recruiting mercenary reaction rolls? (who wants to fight for that guy?)

Perhaps the pile-on to those starts reducing general domain morale at some point.

Loss of your “+1 to henchmen morale at 5th” benefit? (or additional penalties)

I knew I should have trademarked the phrase civilized decadence!

I feel like at least one of the results on the table should be a null result, so that while there’s a likelihood of decline in ability from not adventuring, it’s not a certainty.

I do like being able to recover from decadence by resuming adventuring.

Should the aging thing be based on race/species? Ten years to a human is quite different from ten years to a gnome. Perhaps 10% (rounded up) of the maximum age in the Ancient column (so 8 years for Beastman, 15 years for Dwarf, 18 years for Gnome, 10 years for Human, 13 years for Halfling, and the pretty pretty Elves don’t age anyway)?

DEX should be on the table also, as a Stiffness category. Heck, I could see arguments for any stat being lost. Maybe a Stat Loss result on the main table, and a sub-table to see what stat it actually is?

One potential concern is that this, to some extent, penalizes high-level characters. A level 10 Warlord needs 37,000 XP per year to not become decadent. Even adventuring solo, killing a Mature Adult dragon would not, on average, be sufficient (3900 XP for the dragon plus 31000 GP XP is only 34900 XP). I’m not too concerned, though, since that does fit well with heroic fantasy, where the problems and opposition do keep getting bigger and badder.

Also, this could explain the decline of the halflings, since around 33 delvings would need to be destroyed at an average of 25 halflings (125 XP) and 1000 gp per delving, for a total of 825 halflings per year killed solo by our Level 10 Warlord in order to maintain his non-decadent ways. This does ignore the presence of the sheriffs, but that would only marginally reduce the number of halfling deaths needed.

I do prefer the original option, as it avoids the need for book-keeping XP for recovery. Simply, you gained a level by non-adventurous activities, you got 1 HP.

I thought the basic rules for aging were a bit harsh, and not variable enough for my liking.

Harsh because strength really doesn’t decrease that fast, especially if you’re active. Fitness and flexibility start to decline, but raw power goes slower. I changed the effects of Middle Aged and Old thus:

Middle Aged: -1 Dex, -1 Con
Old: -1 Str, -1 Dex, -1 Con, -1 Cha

Not variable enough because some people are affected by aging sooner or later than others. I created an attribute called Prime, which was the milestone for the end of Adulthood, and you added 20 year increments to it for the other categories.

It’s calculated as 35 + (HD roll +/- Str and Con modifiers), giving a number from 30-49. So you could have two characters who are both 44, but one is Adult and the other Middle Aged, based on health and luck.

From the original rule, I like all of it except the part about hijinks, since some of those indicate some fairly adventurous activities. Maybe if all you were doing was carousing, or some kinds of spying, it might qualify as non-adventurous, but most of the rest indicate being fairly active and encountering danger.

Civilized Decadence table (roll 2d6)
2 Decrepitude: Luxurious living devours your youth. Age 10 years.
3-5 Weakness: Lose 1 point of STR permanently.
6-8 Decadence: Lose 1 hp permanently.
9 - 11 Laziness: Lose 1 point of CON permanently.
12 Exhaustion. Civilized life has sapped your vigor. Lose 1 hit point per level.

Characters can recover from civilized decadence by earning XP from adventuring or war. Each 10% of their current XP earned removes one penalty. Penalties are removed in the order they were gained.

Some high-level casters are able to curse characters with decadence, and/or remove such curses.[/quote]

I like this more than the previous one, maybe 5 years instead of 10 or a number of years variable with race (10 seems a lot for humans and little for elves)

I’ll also add that I am fiddling with an HP Training rule, so it could be a good idea to let spend gold to avoid civilized decadence (1’000 gp and 1 week time*level or more), or also to reroll hp at greater cost (10’000 gp and 1 month time * level?) you reroll all hit dice and keep the number if greater than the previous one