Friday, May 2, 2014


On my last post, Edward Wilson made a very good point about 3E vs C&C. Basically that, without the skills and feats in 3E, C&C characters of similar classes tend to become very linear. To the point where, as he put it, Fighter One and Fighter Two would only be differentiated by the magic items they carry. I thought long and hard about this, and I think I have my opinion/solution worked out.

In a nutshell, the customization is in both the details on paper, and the details in the player’s mind. On paper, two fighters may seem very similar at the same level. They have the same to hit bonuses, roughly the same hit points, and they have all of the same class abilities and limitations. However, looking below the class to the core character, you can often see major differences.

The first is race. This is a huge factor, because it dictates many of the other facets of the character. A dwarf fighter will inherently be very different from a human fighter. On average, he will be tougher (more HP), gain bonuses and penalties based on his size and his racial preferences, and most experienced players (or even those just familiar with fantasy tropes) will recognize that dwarves act (and fight) very differently from humans.

Then you get to the ability scores. As mentioned, a dwarf’s bonus to CON will often give him more HP. But even within the same race, two fighters will have differences. For instance, if Fighter One has an 18 STR and a 10 Dex, he will fight very differently from Fighter Two who has a 10 STR and an 18 DEX. One might wear heavy armor, and use a 2-handed sword, where Two might stick to Leather armor, and use a rapier, perhaps in conjunction with a dagger, since two-weapon fighting is affected by DEX.

This is the crux of Feats in 3E. In essence, Feats attempt to codify rules that traditionally have been the DM’s fiat. In a Feat-less game, the player is expected to ask the DM if the character can do something outside of what the rules say. In turn, the DM decides if it sounds reasonable, and if so, what effects it will have. In 3E, this decision-making is taken out of the player’s and DM’s hands, and placed on the page, with the idea of keeping everything in balance. And it works great.

The benefit of Feats is that it makes things easier on both parties. However, since Feats exist whether you use them directly or not, they can still be a benefit to games like C&C. For instance, Fighter Two wants to use his DEX to his advantage, so he proposes that his use of a rapier and dagger relies on his accuracy rather than the traditional brute strength method. Hence the reason why the “Weapon Finesse” Feat exists in 3E. So, in a C&C game, the DM is probably familiar with that Feat, and can therefore say to the player, “Yes, that makes sense. When using your lighter weapons, you can add your DEX modifier to hit instead of your STR.”

Skills get a bit more complex. And I’m almost of a mind to import the 3E skill system (or some variation) into C&C. In fact, I would wager that there are already rules for doing so in one C&C book or another (I only have the PHB, and haven't read it all yet). Either way, the use of C&C’s Siege Engine rule can be easily integrated with a Skill system, simply by listing exactly which skills are related to the character’s Prime attributes, and which are related to his non-Prime. And the DM can even state that some skills are just not available to the character because of his class. This last ties in nicely with the C&C rules for Multi-classing, especially the “class and a half” rule (which I am eager to give a try some time).

In short, I think a lot of customization, that being what differentiates characters with similar class/level combinations, comes down to Player choices. The choices of what race to play, where to put your ability scores, and what to equip your character with. And during play, it also comes down to the choices the characters make in a given situation, based on their background. The strength of this is that it prevents the tendency for characters to become simply numbers on a piece of paper, and allows them to be actual characters that the player can Role Play through.


  1. Players will and should always be that extra spark that makes the difference.

    You and I could both have dwarf fighters, but they would play very differently.

  2. Ah, good point, I wasn't thinking about the choice of race on top of class. As for skills, you could easily layer a skill rank system of some sort onto the Siege Engine rules for Prime/non-Prime. The Siege Engine system is okay as a simple way to include a relationship between attribute rolls and the character's other aspects. I'm interested to see what you decide on (maybe I can get my GM to check it out!).