Rift Walkers Custom Rules
Whether you’re trekking through the Forgotten Realms, the reaches of Aegedon, or some magical realm of your own concoction, you can add flavor and danger to your adventures with the added rules of strain and wounds we’ve created for our podcast, Flash Fantasy: Rift Walkers. These rules can (and should) be modified by the Game Master to best suit their game and their players’ wants/needs. They are intended to make combat both more visceral and more costly, prompting the players to seek out alternative solutions and avoid combat but also to think more about their actions within combat.
Each character has a strain threshold of their Wisdom modifier plus their Constitution modifier plus their level.
Strain Threshold = CON Mod + WIS Mod + Character Level
When this threshold is reached, a character begins to suffer strain penalties dependent on how many rounds they are at or over their strain threshold. If a character’s suffered strain value exceeds the threshold by half its value, rounded down, that character falls unconscious.
A character can suffer strain a number of ways both in and out of combat. Out of combat, this may be imposed as a penalty when a character fails a certain type of check, or spends too long on a certain task. Make sure to differentiate this from exhaustion, as strain should be seen as a much more short-term problem. Strain in combat is optional, but can add a sense of urgency to a fight, as the longer it goes on, the more strain one may suffer. When a character does not meet or exceed an enemy’s AC, they miss the attack, but can still impose or suffer strain. Missing a target by a value of one will inflict two strain on the target, while missing by two or three will inflict one strain. Missing a target by 4-12 inflicts no strain on the target, and imposes no strain on the attacker. Missing by 13 or higher (when possible) imposes one strain on the attacker. Rolling a critical fail, regardless of the target’s AC or the final value of the attack, imposes two strain on the attacker. Landing a hit will not inflict strain on a target. An optional rule you may include is that a critical hit will deal both damage and strain. If that is the case, the attacker suffers strain equal to however much the attack exceeds the target’s AC. Examples of Strain penalties will be found at the end.
Strain Suffered/Inflicted by Attacker
Attack Missed By
2 – 3
4 – 12
Example of Strain in Gameplay
At level 5 Bruenor has a Will of 15 and a Constitution of 18. With a Will modifier of 2 and a Constitution modifier of 4, Bruenor has a strain threshold of 11. Bruenor enters combat with 9 strain. He is attacked, but the attacker misses. However, the attacker was only 1 shy of Bruenor’s AC, therefore, Bruenor suffers two strain. Now at 11 strain, Bruenor begins to take penalties to his attack, skill checks, or saving throws checks as determined by the Game Master and the situation at hand.
Long rests will always return a character’s suffered strain value to zero. At the discretion of the Game Master, short rests or certain potions or food may also reduce strain, but never by the full suffered amount.
Each character has three wound thresholds, Minor, Major, and Lethal. When a single attack meets or exceeds one of these thresholds, a single wound is inflicted depending on the highest threshold reached. Both Player Characters and NPCs can suffer wounds. A character’s wound threshold is determined by their maximum Hit Points.
% of Max HP
For example, if your character has 90 HP, their thresholds are as follows:
Minor: 18 HP
Major: 36 HP
Lethal: 54 HP
If this character was hit with an attack that dealt 17 damage, no wound would be inflicted, but if a second attack dealt this character 38 damage, then a Major wound would be inflicted. Even though the damage on the second attack passed both the Minor and Major thresholds, only one wound is inflicted at a time. The effects of a wound is up to the Game Master, but should reflect the type of damage done and the affected area. For example, a Minor wound from a fireball may be burns that impose a -1 penalty to Dexterity saving throws, while a Major wound from a crossbow bolt to the arm might halve the damage that character can deal using weapons with that arm. Example wound penalties will be found at the end. The effects of a wound last for a time determined by their severity, but are ultimately up to the Game Master and agreed upon by the players. Here are the recommended treatments:
Minor wounds are not life threatening and can be treated by Medicine checks, any magical healing, or long rests.
Major wounds can be greatly debilitating, and can be treated by advanced magical healing, or difficult Medicine checks with the right materials for the wound. Long rests can (if applicable) downgrade Major wounds to Minor one, but cannot completely remove them.
Lethal wounds require immediate attention or else the character risks death. They can be downgraded to Major wounds by intensive Medicine checks (usually presented in the form of skill challenges) that take great time and effort to complete, or through very advanced magical healing. Taking a long rest or going to sleep with an untreated lethal wound can lead to death.
Example Wound and Strain Penalties
- -1, -2, -3 or more to Skill and/or Ability Checks
- -1, -2, -3 or more to Saving Throws
- -1, -2. -3 or more to Attacks
- Penalties to AC
- 1/2 or 1/4 Damage Dealt
- Plus a Quarter or Double Damage Taken
- Half Speed, Quarter Speed, or Fully Immobilized
- Loss of Limb or Breakage of Equipment
Feel free to add, customize, and change these rules and suggestions to best suit your game and playstyle. If there is a penalty or condition you feel should be the result of a wound or strain, consult your players, and add it in. However, a wound or strain penalty should always fit within the bounds of the situation. If a character suffers a major wound from a fire spell, having them lose their arm might be inappropriate.