Black Spire III: A Twisted King
A Twisted King Wilderness House Rules
The map for this game is divided into Hexes. Each Hex represents roughly 3 miles, meaning under optimal circumstances, characters can cover 4 hexes in a day’s travel (12 miles through trackless terrain). On a road, this speed is doubled. As the Hag Fens are particularly thick and difficult to navigate, some special travel rules do however apply – see the Guide role, below. As a rule, navigating Hexes requires a Survival roll. Only one roll per day needs to be made.
Each character has 3 Refresh Points per level. Refresh Points can be spent at any time, except in combat – each Refresh Point restores 1d8 Hit Points. Be wary, however – Refresh Points can be lost! Exhaustion, traveling while injured, or other ill circumstances can eat up your pool of Refresh Points – the Fens are dangerous in themselves, and no monsters are needed to sap your strength.
Refresh Points are refreshed fully whenever you have access to a warm bed, a solid meal, and the safety of other people. In friendly camps, towns, or villages, you automatically refresh all Refresh Points provided you get to eat and sleep properly while there.
In the wilderness, the following rules apply for Refresh Points:
Traveling while injured, fatigued or diseased: If you travel while at less than half your max HP, or while fatigued or exhausted, or suffering disease, you lose 1 Refresh Point per hex traversed. If your have no Refresh Points left, you instead lose 1 Hit Point per hex traveled. A successful roll by a Medic (see Roles, below) can prevent this loss.
Exhaustion: If the party pushes itself to travel more than 4 hexes per day, each extra hex drains 1 Refresh Point (or 1 Hit Point if no Refresh Points are available). Additionally, characters become fatigued for each hex beyond their normal maximum. Fatigued characters must make a Constitution check (DC 10 + 5 per hex traveled while fatigued) or become exhausted.
Deprivation: Each day the character goes without food or water, or each night without sleep, he or she loses 1 Refresh Point, in addition to the usual penalties for deprivation. It’s hard to be heroic on an empty stomach.
Hearty Meal: Heartier meals can restore Refresh Points. By spending 1 extra ration for the entire party, a character can make a Craft (Cooking) roll, DC 15. Success on this roll restores 1 Refresh Point to all characters who partake of the meal. This is applicable once per day only. On a failed roll, all rations are still spent. Characters can use food gathered in the wilderness for this roll, but normally at least 1 prepared ration must be spent – representing spices, quality filling bread, and other things that make the meal better fare than scrounged-up roots and meats. If the party has a Huntsman, he or she can supply Hearty Meals as well – see below.
A Long Rest: If the party spends 1 entire day without traveling or fighting, all party members recover 1 Refresh Point. Additionally, if any party member has the Explorer or Caretaker role (see below), this party member can help recover RP and HP by resting.
Heroic Boost: Refresh Points can also be spent on effects other than pure healing, representing an expenditure of effort and heroism before battle. These points must be spent outside of combat (typically before it), making them impossible to access if the party is ambushed. The following effects are available:
1 Refresh Point: Gain +1 per three levels to attack and weapon damage for 1 minute. (mimics Divine Favor potion)
1 Refresh Point: Gain +2 deflection bonus to AC for 1 minute. (mimics Shield of Faith potion)
2 Refresh Points: Gain +4 enhancement bonus to any one Ability Score for three minutes (mimics any ability-boosting potion)
2 Refresh Points: Dispel any magical effects reducing Ability Scores, or cure 1d4 temporary Ability Score damage. (mimics Lesser Restoration, but note that it does not remove fatigue)
3 Refresh Points or more: Roll 1d20+5+(2 for each additional Refresh Point spent), against the DC of any disease currently suffered. Success means you shake off the disease. Failure means the Refresh Points are wasted. (mimics Remove Disease potion)
Roles are a way to streamline certain rolls pertaining to the journey. Rather than all party members making all rolls individually, characters take on roles for a leg of the journey, caring for the entire party. Unless otherwise specified, all rolls referenced below need only be made once, their result lasting until party makes camp next.
Note that characters cannot switch roles partway through a journey. They can do so only when there’s an encounter or they stop to make camp. It’s otherwise assumed that characters spend their time focusing on their chosen task.
The Guide is the most critical role. The Guide makes the Survival roll for the party to find their way through the wilderness. If the roll fails, the party gets lost, and the DM secretly rolls a scatter die (1d6) to indicate where they end up, one hex from their intended destination. If the roll fails by 5 or more, the DM also rolls 1d4 to determine how many hexes the characters travel in the wrong direction before they realize their mistake. This roll is normally DC 15. A few modifiers apply, see below:
DC is -5 for traveling through only hexes that have already been explored by the party, or that are within 1 day’s travel of a friendly camp or town where the Guide has received instruction about the surrounding terrain.
DC is +5 if the party travels at night, or in misty or rainy weather where visibility is obscured.
DC is -5 if the party travels at half speed. This represents carefully checking their progress, often doubling back, and making frequent stops to explore.
Special: Shortcut. The Guide chances a good shortcut – a way to avoid thick wilderness, a cut across a river, or some other clever route. Make the Guide roll at +5 difficulty. If successful, the party may travel 1 additional hex, without incurring any fatigue. If the roll fails, the Guide leads the party into danger. A random encounter is immediately triggered. After this random encounter, the Guide may re-roll the Survival roll to navigate, but does not have the option to try a shortcut again.
The Huntsman is responsible for gathering food and water for the party, as well as finding suitable places to make camp and rest. The Huntsman’s relevant skill is Survival. Unlike what the corebook suggests, the Huntsman needs not travel at one-half speed, but doing so reduces the DC.
The DC for the Huntsman to gather food is 15 + 2 for each party member beside the Huntsman himself. Partial success on this roll is possible, gathering supplies for only some of the party members.
In addition, the following modifiers apply:
DC is -5 if the party travels at one-half speed, carefully gathering supplies and searching the surroundings.
DC is +5 if the party is trying to keep a low profile, cautiously avoiding danger.
DC is +5 if the party travels through at least two hexes containing mountain, rocks, or sand.
Special: Fine Fare. The Huntsman can pursue an opportunity to catch or find something unusually filling – perhaps a nest full of large eggs, or a deer. The DC for this roll is equal to (15 + number of party members). Unlike a regular roll, however, partial success is not possible, and traveling more slowly does not reduce the DC. If the roll fails, the Huntsman finds no food during this time period, and triggers a random encounter. If the roll is successful, the Huntsman acquires food for 1 fine meal for the party. Note that hunting takes time, the equivalent of 1 entire day’s trip or a few hours of camping (during which the Huntsman cannot keep watch).
Special: Healing Herbs. Instead of looking for food, the Huntsman can opt to search for healing herbs instead. Trade 1 day’s worth of food for 1 charge for a healer’s kit on a Survival roll.
Special: The Huntsman can attempt hunting in the evenings and mornings as well, while the party makes camp. Since this involves additional travel and activity, however, it costs 1 Refresh Point to attempt this if the party also travels during that day. If the Huntsman has no remaining RP, he or she is simply too weary to attempt hunting while at camp.
The Scout helps the party keep a low profile.
The Scout rolls a Stealth roll on behalf of the whole party. This Stealth result applies against any encounters the party faces, as well as any sentries. It represents the scout character sneaking ahead, guiding the party to avoid threats. If any random encounters are rolled, these must check their Perception against the party’s Stealth – the party may catch them by surprise!
The following modifiers apply:
+5 to the Stealth roll if the party travels at half speed.
In addition, usual penalties apply for visibility for enemies.
The Explorer explores the areas that the party moves through, rolling Perception to detect any interesting details about the area, such as caves, shelters, structures etc. This may uncover treasures or special encounters, as well as good places to make camp. The DC is normally 15. If the Perception check also beats DC 20, the Explorer finds an excellent place to make camp at the end of the journey, well hidden, secluded and comfortable. If the party makes camp here, all party members recover 1 Refresh Point.
The following modifiers apply:
DC is -5 if the party has traveled through the destination hex previously.
DC is +5 if the party gets lost due to the Guide failing.
DC is +5 if the party encounters monsters or enemies in the destination hex and fails to neutralize them (enemies flee or hide), as this makes relaxation difficult. This modifier applies to the difficulty of finding a good camp only, not to exploring the hex.
Special: The Explorer can choose to risk a Perception roll to find a very safe spot to hide. This has the same DC as finding a suitable place to make camp, but on a success, the risk of random encounters is additionally reduced to 5% for that night. On a failure, however, the Explorer manages to find what seems like a really nice place to camp – only to find it’s already inhabited. The DM immediately rolls a random encounter.
The Caretaker tends to any open wounds the party members have, making sure they are well bound, refreshing bandages, offering advice, and seeking that exhaustion and injury does not press the characters too hard. The DC for this is 15. On a success, all party members lose no RP from exhaustion, injury and so on while traveling.
Special: While making camp, the Caretaker may set up more proper treatment, though this requires the expenditure of supplies in the form of herbs and bandages. Such healing supplies cost 1 charge from a healer’s kit. For each charge spent, roll a Heal Check. If the result beats DC 20, all Refresh Points spent while in camp restore an additional (Caretaker’s Heal ranks) Hit Points.
The following modifiers apply to this DC:
DC is -5 if the party has already found a good resting spot thanks to an Explorer (treatment only).
The Lookout keeps an eye out for any dangers, encounters, or troubles ahead. Unlike the Scout, he or she doesn’t stray from the party, but rather keeps an eye on the party members and on the surroundings, often climbing trees or getting to high points to keep a lookout, or watching the rear as the party moves into a new area.
Most characters have only their passive Perception check to rely on. The Lookout, however, may make active Perception checks even while traveling, using these if they are better than their passive Perception. The Lookout rolls Perception every time there is an encounter.
The Scholar studies the environment, using applicable Knowledge skills. Success reveals trivia around the surrounding area, as far away as up to a day’s travel away. The Scholar doesn’t see these things, but infers their existence. For example, Knowledge (nature) might infer a monster’s lair is a day’s travel east, or Knowledge (history) might reveal the presence of a ruin, based on an ancient poem about its surroundings. The DC is normally 15 but may be higher.
The Performer makes sure spirits are high on the journey. By playing a song, telling stories, or otherwise bolstering morale, the party’s energy is refreshed. Roll Perform against a DC of 15. On a success, each party member recovers 1 Refresh Point the next time they rest. Performing draws attention, however, increasing the risk of random encounters by 5%.
A character can choose to Aid Another as normal for all the above Roles. A character who does so may not take on a Role of their own, however.
Notes on Balance
The Refresh Point system is meant to provide a system in which rest and comfort matter more. To compensate for the boon provided by resting, eating quality food, and using skills to provide for the party, in any game using Refresh Points, potions occur with one-third the normal frequency and cost three times their normal amount. Scrolls, wands and staffs, which also offer expendable resources, occur half as often and cost twice their normal amounts. These changes also affect the cost of brewing potions, scribing scrolls, or crafting wands and staffs.
The DM may further compensate for the rarity of potions and scrolls by handing out rewards in the form of Refresh Points; for example, if the party overtakes an orc camp and finds the orcs keep pigs, the party may gain Refresh Points from a hearty meal of bacon. Similarly, the DM may declare that other comforts reward Refresh Points on a case-by-case basis, such as a bottle of fine wine or other treasure that raises the spirits.
This houserule works well in conjunction with the innate magical bonuses from Pathfinder Unchained.