Dungeons & Dragons Online

Homebrewing Annoyance Based Combat System For Younger Players

Hello! I’m Kayfim and I’m home brewing a campaign called Summertime For Svirfneblins for my children as a Christmas present. It has a whole big story and premise I’m not going to go into fully here, but the emphasis is fun and hijinks, rather than murder and death, forcing the players to think creatively to make progress. It’s a kid friendly alternative to an evil campaign, a “naughty” campaign.

TLDR: I'm proposing an alternative hit point pool which represents calmness or control, and that once exhausted the target will lose its cool and become distracted/dysfunctional, becoming easily exploited or taken advantage of so the PCs can get what they want. The target could also pass out or leave as the DM opts to roleplay. I like the mechanism because it allows our svirfneblins to take on foes such as ogres, which they could frustrate and dupe into wrecking themselves, but not plausibly defeat in physical combat. Thanks to redditor Rhyswhich for helping me express this more clearly.

Long version:

Hiping to avoid wide scale murder in my “d&d for younger players” campaign, I am looking for non lethal solutions to unfriendly encounters. Players are encouraged to sneak/deceive, or to execute escapes rather than confront. In the event of showdowns though, I have two mechanics – knock out or confuse/chaos. This is a “naughty” campaign after all – why not make causing trouble a means of progress.

Knocking someone out doesn’t need much explanation, and can be achieved in a way similar to standard combat, or from stealth. Enemies will have a knockout rating in their stat block for how much force needs to be applied for this to happen. For some enemies a knockout may be implausible.

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The confusion/chaos route is different however, and much more fun. In the guide book I am currently writing, characters will have a calm level. This number represents how much chaos needs to be going on or befalling them before they become distracted or overwhelmed and lose their cool, faltering in their ability to pursue or deal with the svirfneblin protagonists of the children. When the children cause shenanigans either in an area or directly upon an individual, it causes an amount of chaos and confusion. Once reached, the DM narrates the NPC’s reaction and the PCs have a window to do as they please unhindered. This mechanic allows the svirfneblin children to deal with foes they could not realistically defeat in combat.

Similar to DC setting, when an activity is described, the DM can set a nuisance rating, a la:

Momentary distraction – 1-2

Significant distraction – 3-4

Bother – 5-6

Major problem – 7-8


For example, the svirfneblins encounter a pair of bugbears sitting by a cooking fire with a bubbling pot on it. Let’s say the bugbears have a calm level of 5. The children could conspire to have the pot tip onto the bugbears, which the DM assigns a nuisance level of 6. Rather than roll to attack the bugbears, the children use their turns to use spells or action to have this happen while the bugbears attempt to grab them. Once the pot is successfully tipped, the bugbears then hop about yelping as they are doused in hot water and the svirfneblins are free to grab an item, rescue a prisoner, or proceed to the next location, etc.

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Confusion effects can be combined. Let’s say that a wasp hive with a factor of 5 is thrown successfully at the bugbears at the same time as their cooking pot tips over on them – you’d have 11.

Let’s say an NPC such as mayor Harbin has a confusion rating of 50. During the climactic parade scene as he and his men pursue the children, once this much chaos is generated he will break down and begin screaming about how much he hates children and this stupid nowhere town, losing the sympathy of the townsfolk and setting the scene for them to turn on him.

The module will contain instructions on how this system works and specific locations/quests will have suggestions/advice for possibilities, though it’s ABSOLUTELY intended to be improv friendly with DM having freedom to allow anything they think will create comedy, encourage creativity and entertain the children playing. One positive about going for confusion over knockouts is that confusion generally has an AOE aspect, meaning it would affect groups of enemies while knock outs only affect one person. Also, if you are clever about how you generate confusion, the NPC may not even be aware that the players are responsible, meaning you can “defeat” them and get what you want without antagonising them.

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Let me know your thoughts on my system!

Source: reddit.com

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