HD&D: The Luck Sphere

You know, I have this great post on Turning Undead but Steve just keeps sending me stuff! Here’s his take on the talents and feats associated with the Luck sphere. Don’t forget, there’s still time to pick try your hand at one of the outstanding spheres from the recent design call: Charm, Elemental Death, Healing, Magic, Order, Strength and Trickery are still up for grabs.

Now take it away, Steve:

Luck Sphere Talents

Aura of Calamity (Cleric Talent)
Others around you suffer adverse fortunes. They slip at the crucial moment, and miss you by a fraction.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural
No Action
Major access to Luck Sphere
Duration: 1 Die roll/continuous
Target: Individual within 10ft of you

Effect: You project an aura out to 10ft which causes bad fortune to your enemies.The first D20 Die roll which an enemy in the aura makes each round (beginning at the start of your turn) suffers a penalty of 2. If the roll would ordinarily succeed on 2+ or 3+ even when this penalty is applied then the roll is instead adjusted to 4+. You can voluntarily decide that this aura effects your allies too.

Boon of the Luck God (Cleric Talent)
The luck of the character is greatly enhanced.
Recharge (Special) | Supernatural
No Action
Major access to Luck Sphere
Duration: Instantaneous (1 Die roll)
Area of Effect: Personal

Effect: Once per game hour the player may re-roll one of their own die rolls three times and take the best result. They may not re-roll other people’s dice. Players do not need to declare they are using this ability before they first roll the die.

Daredevil (Cleric Talent)
You do not fear taking outlandish risks. In fact your god favours it.
Recharge (Special) | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to Luck Sphere
Duration: Instantaneous (1 Die roll)
Area of Effect: Personal

Effect: Any single die roll that would otherwise require a natural 20 in order to succeed, will succeed on a roll of 16 or higher for you regardless of any modifiers. Please note that this will not increase rolls that require 17-19 to succeed, it only affects natural 20s. This is usable once per round

Luckless (Cleric Talent)
Some people wish each other luck. You quite literally don’t need it.
At-Will | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to Luck Sphere
Duration: Instantaneous (1 Die roll)
Area of Effect: Personal

Effect: Once per round, instead of making a D20 die roll you can assume that you rolled an 11. This can be done in any circumstance.

Probability Control (Cleric Talent)
You are able to adjust your chances of success and failure to suit your needs.
At-Will | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to Luck Sphere
Duration: Instantaneous (1 Die roll)
Area of Effect: Personal

Effect: You maintain a pool of luck points. Before making any D20 die roll you may declare that you wish to add or subtract up to three from the result. You may only add points to a die roll if you have points in your luck pool or subtract the balance from another roll which you make in the same round. For example you could add three to your first attack and subtract three from your second or vice versa. Luck points will only remain in your pool for 24 hours. You may have a maximum of 15 points in your luck pool at any one time and you can only add points to your luck pool if there is danger associated with failing a roll. For example before going into a fight you could not spend ten minutes attempting to weave baskets with penalties to the rolls in order tor build up your pool. The DM has complete discretion. 

Luck Sphere Feats

Enlarged Aura of Calamity (Cleric Feat)
Your Aura of calamity projects over a larger area.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural
No Action

Prerequisite: Major access to Luck Sphere, Aura of Calamity talent

Effect: The range of your Aura of Calamity is extended out to 20ft

Extraordinary Risks (Cleric Feat)
You become even more adept at taking risks that look ridiculous to most.
At-Will | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to Luck Sphere, Daredevil talent

Effect: Any single die roll that would otherwise be a natural 20 will now succeed for you on a roll of 14 or greater.

Fearless Daredevil (Cleric Feat)
Your lack of fear over risk taking extends to a general lack of fear.
Continuous Effect | Mundane
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to Luck Sphere, Daredevil talent

Effect: You may re-roll any fear saves that you are required to take.

Greater probability Control (Cleric Feat)
You are able to adjust your chances of success and failure to a greater extent
At-Will | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to Luck Sphere, Probability Control talent

Effect: The maximum amount that can be added or subtracted from each roll is increased to five points

Improved Luck Pool (Cleric Feat)
Your pool of luck is enhanced.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to Luck Sphere, Probability Control talent

Effect: The maximum size of your luck pool is increased from 15 to 25. In addition your luck pool begins each day with 5 points of luck already banked.

Increasingly Luckless (Cleric Feat)
You can avoid the problems of probability more frequently.
At-Will | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to Luck Sphere, Luckless talent

Effect: You may now apply your luckless talent to two dice rolls per round

Increased Boon (Cleric Feat)
Your luck is enhanced even further.
At-Will | Supernatural
No Action
Effect: Major access to Luck Sphere, Boon of the Luck God talent

Effect: Instead of one re-roll per hour you may make one re-roll per half hour.

Lucky Strike (Cleric Feat)
When striking your opponents your blows happen to land in the most damaging locations.
At-Will | Supernatural
No Action
Major access to Luck Sphere, Boon of the Luck God talent

Effect: You can choose to forego your hourly re-roll in order to gain a different type of boon which effects all damage rolls made during the hour. When you roll maximum damage on a damage die, such as an 8 on a d8, then you may roll the damage die again and add it to the first roll. If you also have the Increased Boon feat then you can forego a half-hourly reroll to gain the lucky strike boon for one hour.

Supremely Luckless (Cleric Feat)
To be the best, most people require good fortune as well as talent. You only need to will it.
At-Will | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequiste: Major access to Luck Sphere, Luckless talent, Increasingly luckless feat, Level 11

Effect: Once per hour instead of making a D20 Die Roll you can assume that you rolled a natural 20. This can be used in any circumstances

Targeted calamity (Cleric Feat)
You may choose to target one foe for even greater calamity.
At Will | Supernatural
Standard Action
Prerequisite: Major access to Luck Sphere, Aura of Calamity talent, enlarged aura of calamity feat
Duration: 3 rounds

Effect: Once per round as a standard action, you may target any enemy within your 10ft aura of calamity with a spellcraft versus will attack. If you succeed then all of your opponents D20 die rolls in the next three rounds suffer a penalty of three. In addition no roll which they make can have a greater chance of success than 5+.


7 thoughts on “HD&D: The Luck Sphere

  1. There’s some good stuff and interesting mechanics here Steve. The Luck sphere should be all about bending probability in favour of the cleric, and against his enemies – which this post certainly does. I think that some of the talents and feats may need a little streamlining, but I can’t fault their theme or intention.

    As an irrelevent aside, I’m also pleased to see that nothing here treads on the toes of the powers and abilities of Fate Witches – which I’ve been working on for a while. So let’s go through this talent-by-talent:

    Aura of Calamity

    In principle, this is fine. You single out one enemy within the aura of this power. The first roll they make in the course of a round suffers the listed penalty. However the description is, perhaps, a little clunky. Maybe the text of the power would run more smoothly like this: “You project an aura out to 10ft which causes bad fortune to your enemies. The first attack roll, skill check, ability check or saving throw which an enemy in the aura makes each round (beginning at the start of your turn) suffers a -2 penalty. If the roll would normally automatically fail on a natural 1, it now fails on a natural 1, 2 or 3. You can voluntarily decide that this aura affects your allies too.”

    Steve, that’s more or less the same effect that you intended – but perhaps it is a little clearer?

    As for the feats: Targeted Calamity seems fine. Is the penalty from Targeted Calamity supposed to stack with Aura of Calamity? As Targeted Calamity requires an attack roll, that is probably fine. Also, using the fear is a standard action, so there’s a balancing aspect there.

    Enlarged Aura of Calamity works perfectly well. I have some small reservations that we may find this combination of feats and talent skews a little on the powerful side during play. But it’ll probably be okay.

    Boon of the Luck God

    As Steve mentioned in his email when he sent the above to me, this talent is based on Boon of Vítaeous power that already exists in the Iourn setting. I think it’s worked fairly well in the past. One reroll per game hour is better than making it a flat Recharge power, otherwise it would be too a little too powerful.

    The feat Increased Boon is perfectly fine. Obviously, players of characters with this ability need to come to games armed with an egg timer, but they know what they’re getting into when they choose the talent!

    Lucky Strike is a little powerful as written. I think the mechanics of foregoing the reroll in return for potential additional damage is fine. However, rather than have the effects of Lucky Strike last for one hour, I think they should last for a limited amount of time. Perhaps 1 round per level would be more suitable.


    If your d20 roll requires a natural 20 to succeed, it actually succeeds on a roll of 16-20. It’s easier for you to do the impossible, than the extremely difficult. I like that conceit. I’m not sure how easy it is to get your head around the mechanics though. I’m also not sure how often this will come up in play.

    In combat, if you come up against a foe that you need a natural 20 to strike, then you’re dealing with a monster who is significantly above your power level. And I do mean significantly. Probably about 10 levels in HD&D if you’re using you’re attacking with your best skills.

    Ouside combat, DCs don’t necessarily scale with your level. But natural 20s aren’t an automatic success – so the effects of this talent wouldn’t apply.

    I’m happy with the idea behind this talent, but I’m not sure the mechanics will see much use in the game. Is there a way we can incourage the PC to take insane risks in a different way?

    The feat Extraordinary Risks suffers from the same problem. Fearless Daredevil doesn’t, and would probably be okay if we could sort the talent out.

    I’m not sure how to address this talent to be honest. Maybe the cleric could get bonuses against threats or enemies that were a higher level than he was. Perhaps encouraging him to risk things that other party members wouldn’t. Does anyone else have suggestions?


    To bring this talent in line with the rest of the system, we should probably say something like: “Once per round you can Take 10 on an attack roll, ability check, skill check or saving throw”. That covers the same intent as the talent, but integrates it better into HD&D.

    However, it’s jolly powerful isn’t it? Outside combat, this talent could be applied to every skill check you make. I think that’s taking things a bit far. Arguably, you could make this a Recharge power that the cleric can use once, and then not use again until after a short rest, without underpowering it.

    Consequently the feats Increasingly Luckless and Supremely Luckless – while a perfectly logical step – just make an already overpowered talent even more powerful.

    I suggest that we make Luckless a recharge power. We could add that the talent can be used a second time before taking a short rest, if the cleric spends an action point to do so. I think that makes the talent viable, and of the right power level.

    As to the feats: Maybe there could be a feat that allows one of your allies to take 10. Or perhaps even one of your enemies. Any other thoughts?

    Probability Control

    Now, I like this. I like the idea of the cleric building up bad karma so he can use it to his advantage later. However, I think there’s a danger that the player will concentrate on failing lots of irrelevent die rolls, in the hope of increasing his luck pool. The way I would cope with this is follows:

    I would have Probability Control only apply to attack rolls. And I would turn it into a recharge power. That would mean that you would only be able to add to your luck pool and draw from your luck pool for the duration of one encounter. The points in your luck pool would reset after a short rest, and any unspent points would be lost.

    Greater Probability Control and Improved Luck Pool could remain unchanged.

    So there we have it. I hope I didn’t sound too down on all your hard work Steve, but I think there are a few issues here to iron out. On the whole though, this is a great place to start.

  2. Hey Neil

    I am greatful for the comments. To be honest I though the way forward was to get my ideas down quickly and then get people opinions on how to tune them – especially the power level.

    Lucky Strike and Luckless were both taken from stances in the v3.5 tome of battle (which incidentally Ozzy has just got access to). It would have been possible to get them by level 11 so I thought that they would be reasonably balanced. I am quite happy to downgrade them as you see fit though. I think that luckless is balanced to some extent as you don’t know the DC when you decide whether to use it. This means that you may fail by using the ability. Furthermore most priests in my experience don’t have the greatest selection of skills that are useful in an adventuring context and after failing miserably on every skill check Nicos made for the last ten years I am not sure that being able to take 11 would have made him much more successful. It would have just meant some of the failures against embarrassingly low DCs wouldn’t have happened.

    The idea for Daredevil was stolen from Vampire the Masquerade and it was a lot of fun in practice. A player with this talent would deliberately make things difficult for himself in order to push the odds of success down so that the talent kicked in. For example in D&D if they worked out they needed 17 or more to jump accross a gap, they might instead try kicking an opponent in the vulnerables and as they bend down use them as a step. The latter would be a natural 20 to succeed and thus the talent and accompanying feat would kick in meaning that the player succeeds on a 14 instead. It is up to the player to be imaginative enough to push the DC to a natural 20. As I say – it is a lot of fun in practice and I can assure you that it would crop up often enough to be viable. In combat maneuvres and called shots could be used to adjust the odds in a similar way. When I run a game I allow natural 20s to be automatic successes for skills as long as they are not opposed by someone elses skill. Perhaps the talent would kick in if the player would need at least a natural 20 but the DC must not be higher than 10 + whatever the player could achieve on a natural 20.

    I agree with your suggestions on making probability control a recharge mechanic that resets after a short rest. I would definitely prefer this to be usable on other rolls in some capacity though. Would it work if the pool always resets to zero until the player begins doing something dangerous such as sneaking past a guard or climbing a cliff face. In those circumstances they could take a penalty and then use the points they had banked after climbing the wall or sneaking past the guard as long as there is not a clear break in the action. As I said in the talent description if the player then sat down to weave a basket they could not add any points to their pool as there is no danger to the player in the event of a failure.

  3. Hi Steve.

    I suppose that I’m looking at Luckless from a combat point of view. In HD&D all classes should be able to use their class abilities to hit enemies of the same level by rolling a 10 or better. That’s a gross simplification, but that’s the baseline. As a result, being able to Take 10 or Take 11 on any d20 roll once per round is basically allowing an automatic success.

    Third and fourth edition don’t make the same assumptions when calculating DCs as I have done. And once we start playtesting my ideas may be proved to be utter pants. But I think you’ll see that in the context of the DCs we have, Luckless does seem pretty powerful. Skill selection for all classes is also broader in HD&D, meaning your character is more likely to be good at what you want him to be good at. That may also cause a problem in regards to this feat.

    I guess what I’m saying is that what worked in third edition may not necessarily work in HD&D. I think that making it a recharge ability is probably the way to go. Maybe additional feats or other means (like Action Points) can be found to get more uses out of it before a short rest but once per round is a little too much for me.

    I see the intent of Daredevil, and I really like it. It’s just a question of trying to make it work within the HD&D mechanics. There’s also the issue that the higher the level the character gets, the less likely Daredevil is to work because the harder it will be to increase the DC to a level that a natural 20 is required.

    I don’t think that a natural 20 can represent an automatic success outside combat. It doesn’t make sense for things like Knowledge checks. What about a description that is something like this:


    Daredevil (Cleric Talent)
    You do not fear taking outlandish risks. In fact your god favours it.
    At-Will | Supernatural
    No Action
    Major access to the Luck sphere
    Area of Effect: Personal

    Effect: The impossible is your stock in trade. The more difficult a task, the greater the chance of you pulling it off. When you make an attack roll, skill check, ability check or saving throw against an impossible DC, you invoke the effects of this talent.

    An impossible DC is defined as an attack roll or saving throw where you would require a natural 20 to succeed, or a skill check or ability check where you cannot reach the DC even if you rolled a 20.

    When facing such an impossible DC, you automatically succeed on a roll of 19 or 20. This range of success increases to 18-20 at level 6; 17-20 at level 11; 16-20 at level 16; 15-20 at level 21; and, 14-20 at level 26.

    This power can only be used in situations where you are being threatened or distracted. If you are in a situation where the standard rules would allow you to Take 10 or Take 20 to succeed at any skill check, then the effects of the Daredevil talent do not apply.

    The Daredevil talent does not apply to Knowledge checks at any time; nor can you apply its effects to any Trained Only skills, unless you are trained in that skill. The Daredevil talent cannot be used in the same round that you use the Probability Control talent.


    Would the above text preserve the essence of Daredevil without making it too powerful? I’m slightly concerned that a Luck cleric with Daredevil and Probability Control could play the system somewhat, hence the last line.

    If you want to stretch Probability Control out to include skill checks, I would suggest putting a proviso in the description of the talent. Possibly that (like Daredevil) Probability Control cannot be used in any situation where your character could Take 10 or Take 20. You might also want it to apply to Trained Skills only.

    My issue is that it’s very easy for a character to take a penalty on a roll he doesn’t really care about, to save the bonus for rolls that count. Take the swordmage I’m playing in Marc’s 4e game for example. She never succeeds at Perception checks. Ever. If she had this talent, she might as well take a penalty to every Perception check she ever makes because it won’t make a blind bit of difference. Then she would store that karma to use in her melee attacks. Net effect on the character: a bonus in return for practically no penalty.

    Maybe we could say that the bounus has to be applied to the same skill that you took the penalty from? That might make it easier to police.

  4. Hey Neil

    I like your revision of Daredevil and think it is balanced well by tiering it by level like you have as low level characters are bad at many more things meaning the talent will kick in more often. Your Proviso over probability control sounds wise too.

    Regarding the Luckless talent – would you be happy to allow a once per round use if the assumed number was increased such as to 14? That way it couldn’t be used for the standard 11 to hit a DC that HD&D is aiming for, but could be used for the characters specialities where they have a greater than average chance of success. Perhaps you are right and a recharge is the way forward but once per encounter doesn’t seem frequest enought to me. Maybe thrice?

    I forgot to mention in my last post that there is a rationale to justify Lucky Strike and that it is not overpowered. Takine someone with D8 damage rolls for example, they would have a 1/8 chance of gaining an extra 4.5 point of damage which averages at just over 0.5 points of damage per attack. It would be slightly more than this if subsequent 8s allowed additional rerolls. Extrapolating this yo infinity averages at 0.8 additional points of damage per attack. Thsi doesn’t vary much when the dice is changed because D4s have a higher chance of a reroll but lower additional average damage and d12s are the reverse. As long as the text specifies that it is excluded from critical multipliers etc this seems in line with other deats that increase damage – if not being a little underpowered. In addition the character would have to forego the use of talent to bring it into effect. What do you think?

  5. Do you mean you can use Luckless once per round to have a d20 roll count as 14 instead of 11. Wouldn’t that make it worse?

    What if it was a Recharge ability, and we increased the assumed number would that help. If the character could effectively choose to Take 15 on the roll, but could only do so once before taking a short rest?

    Okay – I can see how Lucky Strike is mathematically sound and not overpowered. Part of the issue I have with it is the abstract duration. Having the re-rolls last for one hour of game time is fine. But with actual abilities like this one, saying it lasts a “game hour” is rather woolly. I would rather than we pegged it to a duration in minutes or rounds in game time.

    Look at this way: in combat, six rounds probably is about a game hour.

  6. Hey Man

    Yeah sorry about that – I added my last comments while at work and my head was buzzing with numbers. The change should have been reversed i.e. the talent might allow you to take 8 instead of 11. However I think your recharge is probably better.

  7. No worries!

    I think that giving the character an option to ‘Take 8’ might seem a underpowered. The option of a ‘Take 15’ once per encounter (with the chance of doing it more often with the rights feats and/or an action point) may be enticing enough.

    Does anyone else have an opinion on this?

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