Roll The Dice To See If I’m Getting Drunk!
(Those of you who do not recognize the title, it’s from the classic and hilarious Dead Alewvies radio sketch, which came before the widely-distributed machinima often called “Summoner Geeks”. I have nothing against the machinima, it’s well done, it’s just that a lot of people don’t realize the true source, and I believe that creators deserve credit for their work.) (I spent some time trying to find a source for Just The Sounds that wasn’t a fairly scary looking, probably virus-laden site designed to get fake Google hits, and I finally found this guy’s blog. Those who want “The one with the big demon in the fridge”, you can just click here. Philistine.)
Imaginary consumption of alcohol is as much as part of D&D as the imaginary slaughter of orcs and the imaginary seduction of tavern wenches (or, depending on gender and preference, the hunky stable boy, Hans. He is always named Hans, even if the game is set in some faux-Asian or faux-Arabian environment. This is a rule.). The first edition Dungeon Master’s Guide contained about a page of rules for the effects of alcohol (it contained a page of rules for everything), but later editions contained no such rules. This makes sense with Second Edition, which exemplified the Great Big Wuss era of D&D history, the age of No Nipples and No Blood and No Gays, but you’d think Third Edition, with it’s “What the #$%^& is a Baatezu?” attitude would have brought them back. No need, really, since there were plenty of third party supplements to cover it. Fourth Edition also doesn’t have drinking rules, probably because they couldn’t decide if “Chugging” should be at-will or per-encounter. Snerk.
I am here to remedy that situation.
Fortunately, 4e does give us some good mechanisms for drinking. A lot of games treat alcohol as a poison, which it factually is, but, mechanically, I think drinking — especially extended drinking — is best modeled using the 4e disease track. (Which is a very nice little mechanic that deserves more use. Original? No. Original to D&D? Yes, and extensible to a variety of situations. Hmmm. Gives me an idea for another article or twelve. But I digress.)
Here’s how it works.
Every drink has a level, which is a combination/abstraction of the size of the glass and the potency of the contents. A drink’s attack bonus is equal to its Level+4, so a 10th level drink has an attack bonus of 14. Watered-down wine and thin beer is level 2-3, decent beer and good wine is level 5, whiskey and the like are level 8, “Dwarven Spirits” are level 12, and beyond that you get into some “Fantasy” beverages and extraplanar brews… tune in tomorrow! (Or whenever I get around to it.)
A drink makes an “attack” against Fortitude, using this attack bonus.
A drink’s “Potency” is used to determine the DC of the Endurance check needed to avoid getting worse, if the “attack” hits. Use page 42. The level of the drink is the level; determine whether the check is Easy, Moderate, or Hard based on a variety of cirumstances. As a quick rule, the check should be Hard for small characters such as Halflings and Gnomes, Moderate for most others, and Easy for Dwarves, Half-Orcs, and any other race generally known for their ability to consume.
Every time a character takes a drink, the attack roll is made; if the attack hits, the Endurance check is made.
Improving takes time. For each hour that passes without drinking, the character may make a DC 20 Endurance check. If he succeeds, he moves one step back on the chart. Regardless of condition or Endurance, a character is assumed cured after an extended rest.
Hangover: For each stage past the first, the character awakens with one less Healing Surge and a -1 to all defenses. All penalties are removed after the next extended rest. A DC 20 Heal check can remove the Defense penalties and restore one Surge. Any healing ability which allows a character to spend a surge may, instead, be used to allow a character to regain a surge; this can be done only once per character.
|Drinking||Level XX Sorta-Disease|
|Beer… the source of, and solution to, so many of life’s problems.||Attack:As determined above.|
|Endurance:Improve see above; maintain DC Potency; Worsen DC Potency -5 (and see above)|
|The target is cured. See hangover rules.||The target is feeling a bit happy. +1 to Will Defense and Charisma checks, -1 to Reflex Defense.||The target is getting sloshed. -2 to Reflex Defense and any rolls which include Dex or Int bonus (such as skill checks or attack rolls based on those attributes).||The target is very well soused. -4 to Reflex Defense, -2 to all other Defenses, -2 with all checks.||The target has trouble standing. -6 to all Defenses, -4 to all checks. The target is flat-footed. A DC 20 Dexterity check must be made to avoid falling prone if the target attempts to move more than 1 square per round.||Final State: The target is unconscious.|
Man, that’s an ugly table….wish I had time to do some hand-editing in HTML to clean it up, but, I don’t.
Some may note this system gives characters with high Endurance an unfair advantage over their less-hearty fellows. Some (namely me) would say, “So? It’s supposed to!”, but a key principle of 4e is that no one is locked out of any activity, regardless of their suitability for it. So it occurs to me that the traditional “Drink the other guy under the table” type of event, which occurs a lot in our games (uhm… in the context of our characters, not the players. Just to be clear, here), is also well modeled as a skill challenge. More on that tomorrow.