House rule issues - wise counsel required!

Greetings Sodalis

I've had a bit of an issue with my homebrew campaign, specifically with two of my houserules. I'm hoping some wise folks can opine upon them and help me out.

The first house rule is for handling many on one combat, specifically the party of PCs vs some 'orrible monster. Since group combat is unsatisfying for a bunch of wizards who are all quite different, I've long had a house rule where the defender who is attacked by multiple attackers gets a -3 on his defence roll for each attacker after the first. e.g. if attacked by three attackers, the defender rolls defense normally for the first, at -3 for the second and at -6 for the third.

This has had the satisfying outcome that multiple attackers can take down powerful foes, so a knight can easily shred a couple of peasants, but a group of four or five of them might be able to overwhelm him. This seems as it should.

Last night however, my party was fighting an animated stone statue with and awesome soak of +24 (i.e. it was made of stone). Expecting to be unable to harm it, I expected (as GM) that they would try and come up with an ingenious magical solution. However, after the party got stuck in (we have two heavily armed and armoured paladin types and a druidic type with a lion as both a heartbeast and as a magical animal companion), we rapidly got it down to -12 on its defence, at which point the combat advantage was sufficiently massive that its soak was easily bypassed and the statue destroyed. This seemed not only anticlimatic (it lasted one round) but also counter intuitive, lions and men with swords really shouldn't be able to damage a stone statue so easily, no matter how much they out number it.

I know I'm not the only one using a -3 for defenders type houserule, has anyone else encountered this problem or can anyone think of a solution?

The second houserule is to do with my setting. Due to the nature of the game there is no divine, infernal or faerie auras, only magic. Magic auras are also more common. This makes powerful spell casting easier (a design feature) but denies us the problems of twilight, since botch dice from "bad" auras are a major cause of multiple botch dice for magic. I'm wanting to make it a bit more dangerous by adding botch dice depending on the strength of the aura. e.g. a more powerful aura makes it easier to cast, but can also overwhelm a reckless maga. What would be an appropriate level? I don't really want my mages constantly in twilight, but the risk of occasional trips there should be present, 1 extra botch dice per point of aura seems extremely harsh, especially given that they live in a level 5 aura. But how about 1 extra botch dice for every two points of aura, or every three points?

Comments welcome.

1 botch die per 2 points of aura (or fraction) sounds about right for what you want. So +2 botch dice for a level 3 aura.

The other thing is an issue with the combat mechanics of Ars. Since I have not used it in a while (we use a hombrew system, that really has the same problem that you outlined, even if it never came up in our saga) I will pass this to wiser men. However, for what you said, giving him a "no carry over for receiving damage" to the statue should be enough.

You can still easily justify the result though. It is not that they are hitting it, but manoeuvring around it and getting the statue all confused by hit and run attacks to keep changing its point of attention... until it steps into the mud of a nearby pond and gets stuck. Push, statue down and it cannot recover. Victory. Never allow hard numbers to get in the way of a cool explanation :slight_smile:


As for the stone statue, I think you'd have to ask yourself: would a skilled-beyond-legendary swordsman (say, with a Single Weapon score of 15 and a Dexterity score of +5) have a chance to harm it with his sword? If the answer is yes, then numbers can probably do it, too. If the answer is no, then the best way to describe it is probably to say something different than "Soak 24" -- maybe you can just say that it can't be harmed by ordinary weapons? Except maybe by heavy bludgeons like warhammers, and even then it can take no more than a Light Wound from each such blow?

As for the botches... I think you have to define more tightly what you want the feeling to be. Can you be overwhelmed easily by a powerful Aura even if casting relatively minor magic? Then +1 botch die / 3 full points of the Aura seems about right. Or maybe you only want the effect when you are relying heavily on the Aura -- so that your chances of a botch are not increased for minor magics, but only for really big spells? Than you could say that you can cast "as if in a lower aura", reducing both the power of your spells and the danger.

Keep in mind, however, that magical items don't botch. So any solution along the lines you are proposing will strongly favour magi who perform all their magic through items, Maybe that's what you want... if not, maybe you can say that the extra botch dice only apply to spontaneous spells? In this way the relative power of formulaic spells and items will remain the same. Or maybe you can say that powerful auras give botch dice even to magic items?

No carryover would be A Bad Thing, it won't be possible for just about anyone to harm a giant blooded magus with +6 sta and a mail coat, even if he's lying on a sacrificial altar (soak +14, treshold 7, so 21 needed to actually harm him) and the executioner had a greataxe and +6 strength.

If you wish it to be harder, give special qualities like massive wound ranges, limit the amount of -3's that can apply (it won't really matter anymore after 4 for instance, and you might even hinder one another), maybe you could give -4 to the first, and reduce that by one for each next attacker, so -4,-3,-2,-1,-0, or some such, that would be better.

We have all aura's magic as well, and full botch dice, but we often focus on non-magical solutions, dividing them could provide a solution for your style.

Another thing can be that you only start counting the -3 for extra combatants once the number of combatants is above your Size. So a size +3 statue can engage 3 foes without problems, and will get a -3 for the 4th combatant or above. Will heavily reduce the amount of minuses the statue is getting.


I like your line of thinking Henricus, maybe instead of relying on massive soak, I should have represented its toughness via a special quality. Something like

Body of Stone
The creature has a body made of solid stone and is nearly impervious to physical damage, small chips and flakes of stone may be knocked from it but appear to cause it no discomfort or harm. Any physical wound that does not outright "kill" it (i.e. inflict enough damage to hit the kill bracket on the wound chart) in one hit does no damage. A wound that kills it shatters the creature, smashing it to pieces.

This in combination with the massive soak of +24 would have ensured the statue was too tough to really damage in a fight with physical damage.

Or maybe one directly designed to combat the problem rather than just make it tough.

Body of Stone
This creature has a body made of solid stone and is nearly impervious to physical damage. Combat advantage from being outnumbered may be accrued against it as normal for the purposes of a hit, but this combat advantage is removed before comparing damage to soak, representing the beasts incredible toughness.

e.g. Bob the warrior and his mates jeff and Dave attack an animated stone statue. The statue successfully defends against Bobs attack, gets -3 on his defence against jeff and -6 against Dave. Jeff and dave both hit with combat advantages of 3 and 14 (well done Dave). Before adding on weapon damage and comparing it to the statues soak, jeff loses the -3 from the outnumbering bonus and dave loses the -6, reducing their combat advantages to 0 and 8. Jeff adds his combat advantage (0), his strength (2) and his weapon damage bonus (8) for a total of 10 which fails to penetrate the statues soak. Dave adds his combat advantage (8), his strength (1) and his weapons damage bonus (11) for a total of 20, which also fails to wound the statue. Rethinking their plan of attacking a solid stone statue with swords and maces, the trio flee.

On the botch dce, I think I might go for aura/3. So in a level 1-3 aura, a magus would roll 2 botch dice (1 standard +1 for the aura). In a level 4-6 aura, he would roll 3 botch dice (1 standard +2 for aura) and in a level 7-9 aura, he would roll 4 botch dice (1 standard + 3 for aura). Should he encounter a mighty level 10 aura, he'd roll 5 botch dice.

No carry-over is huge, don't do that.
As for no wound penalties, we've tried that, and it almost killed the party.
Decreased wound penalties work, but there has to be something.

I think your problem comes from the value of -3. It's just too much.
It's the equivalent of a medium wound per extra attacker - that's pretty big.

The "aura adds to botch dice" issue has come up before, and I'm inclined to concur with Laertes' ond Direwolf's conclusions here:

It tends to make high auras borderline uninhabitable by mages, easily doubling and tripling the likelihood of botches and twilight.

Even at +1/2*aura in botch dice, casting in a typical (?) covenant of Aura +5 give people about a 4% chance of botching... , we are talking about a 4x increase in probability (I know this is mathematically not entirely correct, but it is close enough. I can crunch the numbers if someone is desperate for them. 8) )

In a wizard war, this will mean the best option is to hide in a large aura and have as many mundane defences as possible... the attacking wizards will eventually twilight themselves (OK, this is exaggerated but you get the picture...)

Full Disclosure: It is probably fair to say, that this comment may be just 'sour grapes', given that one of my characters has been at the receiving end of this new rule last night :slight_smile:

If you rule that an extremely skilled fighter could harm said creature with almost anything, or that an extremely lucky stress roll of many consequetive 1s is fine, then it it what it is.

Or simply rule from time to time that a certain creature is impossible to harm with certain weapons. Fighting a huge animated tree? Only axes will do! Fighting a stone statue? Only warhammers and maces work! Using a wet noodle? Kiss your backside goodbye, or start running! :wink:
I'm ok with these kinds of things, where the basic mechanics don't quite cut it.

You could rule that mago don't suffer extra Botch die from auras that are familiar with. Meaning having spent time or otherwise researched. But the unknown auras cause chaotic effects.
Either do a binary rule with either-or. Either you've spent an entire season, year or decade whichever you prefer and have gotten used to the aura. Or you haven't.
Or do a gradual getting-used-to mechanism, where over time you reduce the number of extra Botch dice from the aura as you're getting used to it. I prefer using a pyramid scale, using the ability progression: 5 seasons staying there reduces by 1, 15 seasons in total by 2 etc. Or do regular pyramid scale (as for Arts) if the method above is too slow: Reduce by 1 in 1 season, by 2 after 3, by 3 after 6...

Personally I think ditching the four different realms is a great loss, but if i works for you.

Concerning your first house rule:
The details for Zombies and Skeletons (in 4th ed...) set a precedent, they have different soak depending on what they're attacked with. So why not simply stack another +15 soak against anything that is not a pickaxe or other mining tool?
And, of course, there is the "right of the creature": Demons are immune against fire, Zombies are immune to Mentem-Magic, IMNSHO granting a stone creature immunity against daggers, claws and other such light weapons shouldn't raise eyebrows...

Not any more - explicitly so as I recall

Not any more - explicitly so as I recall

About the statue and "outnumbered" penalty:

  • It is not practical for more than 3-4 people to attack the same target in melee at the same time unless the target is really large.
  • IMO there is no reason that ranged attacks should apply this penalty.


  • Only apply this for melee attacks (if it is not the case already).
  • Cap the penalty at -9, after this the attackers will disturb eachother as much as the target.


  • Change the houserule to a "outnumbered" penalty. This way you don't "punish" characters with high initiative score.
    outnumbered 2:3 = -3 penalty for ALL melee defence
    1:2 = -6 penalty
    1:3 = -9 penalty
    further "outnumbering" is too impractical to give bigger bonuses
    If you play out battles very detailed I would even suggest to penalize an attacker trying to engage a target that already is in melee with more than 3+(defenders positive size) attackers. People swinging weapons need some space!

A slightly related case is shooting into melee. Any attack required aiming should recieve a penalty and even autohit attacks (magic) should have an aditional botch dice.

Also, you could consider to halve the attack advantage before it is applied to the damage total. This will make strength and soak more powerful.

I like the idea of a cap on outnumbering, it makes perfect sense too, how many people can be swinging a sword ar a guy before it all gets a bit crowded?

And I will definately be using the special qualities type rules more frequently rather than trying to model everything with one stat line.

I'll use the 1 extra botch dice for every three levels of aura. Adds a bit of risk, but isn't too outlandish. Might also reinforce the idea of having small high magic aura zones for labs only (my players have already discovered one of these).

Thanks for the input chaps.

I very much like the familiarisation idea here. It works especially well as flavour if you also make extensive use of aspected auras (Ignem spells are easier, ghosts are faintly visible here, no flames possible in this aura) to lend some extra weight to the idea that familiarity is needed to work around the idiosyncrasies.

I don't have a comment about Kombat since I like having powerful creatures be difficult to be harmed at all. I don't like the idea of a dragon to being overwhelmed by 100 peasants or a night being overwhelmed by 5. But that's just me.

As for having an aura affect bust ice, I propose the following: there is 1 box die per point of aura, but these box dies are reduced for every point of warping that a wizard has.the affects of this is that a new wizard is going to have problems in big auras, and as he becomes more experienced, these will not bother him anymore.most of the time, you get the fact you want in that a Wizard in an aura too high for him will enjoy a few box dice.I like the idea is that a wizard at the edge of a final Twilight really isn't going to be caring about the insignificant a fact of a mere plus 6 or a.



I love it. Ovarwa just did a post and it's not visible. :confused: