Running Serpents and Sewers

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How to run a mature game

Equipment and Treasure

In Serpents and Sewers, the focus of a character's power is meant to be the character himself and not a collection of magical items. The inflationary use of magic in standard D&D leads almost inevitably to a banalisation of these items, a particular sorry development. If a magical item should feel awesome and also should have a significant impact on the character, it requires a certain exclusivity.

Therefore, and because of the stronger focus on versimilitude, the amount of treasure is reduced to 25%, as well as the wealth per level, if you want to use the wealth by level table at all (I don't and I never saw its appeal anyway). Only minor magical items (up to a required caster level of 5 or less) can be bought; all other items must be custom made and cost the double listed prices, if a source can be found at all. Magical items are more easily bartered, so if you want to have a specific magical item, you should have an equivalent fancy one to trade off. The experience cost of item creation is increased to 10% of the item’s creation costs in gold. The time to create a magical item is equal to one day for every 200 gp of the item’s price. As a guideline, a character should have permanent magical items with a total caster level equal to his character level, and equally as many consumable items like scrolls or potions. Combined with the generally more powerful classes and races, the characters are roughly as strong as before, but less dependant from their equipment. The character, and not what he or she is carrying is the important part.

Constructing the Narrative

Friends and Fiends - NPCs and enemies in Serpents and Sewers

Alternative and Optional Rules

Serpents and Sewers is in most part constructed as a set of options - you can easily use one of the major elements- for example the heroic paths - in a standard D&D game, without causing any problems. SInce I am quite convinced of the results of all the work I put into Serpents and Sewers, I may think that this is a watered-down solution as best, but due to the development process of S&S in several steps of applied houserules and modifications, this optionality is both a result of the origins of the rules at hand and an intended effect as well.

Apart from the liberty to chose which modules of S&S are going to be implemented into the used rules, this modular approach also allows for the application of further optional rules and alternative rules instead of the normal ones. The following sections will feature several alternaitve options for the game. Some of them are meant to further increase the game's versimilitude, others are a result of the influence of the 4th edition or meant to make the game run smoother.

Alternative Skill System

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