Advanced - Effects

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What is an Effect ?

Simply put, an Effect is something that will change any value related to your character. For instance, when you wear a Belt of Giant Strength, your character will gain more strength: the "effect" in this case, is an increase in Strength for your character. If you have the Agile feat, then your character will receive +2 bonus on all Balance checks and Escape Artist checks. So both "Balance" and "Escape Artist" have effects that increases those skills for your character.

But the complexity of D&D3.5 does not come from adding simple number to your character - but rather the interaction of all these numbers when they are coming from different sources. In some case, these numbers CANNOT be added together, while in other cases, you CAN add these bonuses together: These are referred to as Stacking Rules, and being able to master the stacking rules automatically is what makes TOS+ stand out from almost everything else!

Stacking Rules ?

In D&D, your character can gain bonuses from various sources. Magical Rings, Shields, or even Class Features can give your character a bonus to something. The makers of D&D created many different 'types' of bonuses. They also provided details so we know if a specific type can be stacked (added) to something else which provides a similar bonus (of the same type). The best way to understand this is with this example: Let us say Brak the barbarian (Famous Last words: "Brak? What a stupid name for a Barbarian!") owns a nice pair of Gauntlets of Ogre Power. Reading the description of those, we know that Brak gets "a +2 enhancement bonus to his Strength score". So these Gauntlets grant a +2 to Brak's Strength score in the form of an enhancement bonus. After some adventuring, Brak get hold of a Belt of Giant Strength +4 and happily wears that to get more bang for his buck! The description of the belt says "The belt adds to the wearer’s Strength score in the form of an enhancement bonus of +4". One might be tempted to claim that Brak now has a +6 bonus to his Strength score: +2 from his Gauntlets, and +4 from the new Belt. Alas, the stacking rules specify that enhancement bonuses do not stack. So Brak is only getting a +4 bonus to his Strength score, instead of the all-too-tempting +6 (the effect of the Gauntlets must be ignored)

The core mechanics of the game explain how stacking works:

Definition of Stacking

In most cases, modifiers to a given check or roll stack (combine for a cumulative effect) if they come from different sources and have different types (or no type at all), but do not stack if they have the same type or come from the same source (such as the same spell cast twice in succession). If the modifiers to a particular [statistic] do not stack, only the best bonus or worst penalty applies. Dodge bonuses, racial bonuses, and circumstance bonuses however, do stack with one another unless otherwise specified.

So the Stacking Rule is actually quite simple: The three typed bonuses that stack with other bonuses of the same type are Dodge, Racial and Circumstance bonuses. Untyped bonuses also stack. All other bonus types, however, do not stack with bonuses of the same type. Whenever your character gains bonuses that should NOT stack, TOS+ will handle them accordingly!


Skip Williams gives us a more detailed explanation of the Stacking Rules.

The Types

Ok so we have seen that the stacking rules prevent bonuses of the same type (with a couple of exceptions) from being added. Now let us look at all the Types that TOS+ can handle - you will see that a few more types were added to allow some very powerful stuff!! But you don't need to read on those until you are familiar with the basic types.

The stackable and non-stackable Types

There are basically three categories of types used within TOS+. The stackable Types, the non-stackable types and the special types. Let's look at the first two categories of types that TOS+ can handle.

Table: The stackable and non-stackable Types
Available Types Does it Stack? Available Types Does it Stack?
Alchemical No Morale No
Armor No Natural Armor No
Circumstance Yes Profane No
Competence No Racial Yes
Deflection No Resistance No
Dexterity No Sacred No
Dodge Yes Shield No
Enhancement No Size No
Inherent No Trait No
Insight No Unnamed Yes
Luck No

So as you can see, most types do not stack, with the four exceptions listed above.

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What should I do when I have an Effect with a type that does not normally stack, but the description of that ability specifically says that it stacks? Simple! If it should always stack, even with the same typed bonus, use 'Unnamed' instead!

The Special Types

With the help of a few special types, TOS+ can be expanded to handle more complex Effects!

Table: The special Types
Special Types Description
Haste Although the bonuses granted by the Haste spell are Unnamed (as in they stack), multiple Haste effects do not stack! So if you wish to create an Effect similar to Haste, but that does not stack with other Haste effects, you can use this special type.
Max Value Certain effects provide benefits that aren’t really bonuses or penalties to an existing ability, but that give a value where an ordinary character wouldn’t have one. For instance, Spell Resistance. SR is not a bonus per se, but an ability gained by a character. SR does not [usually] stack (but you could define an Effect that would augment it, and therefore stack with it!): If you have multiple sources of Spell Resistance, you typically use the highest number. This is where Max Value comes into play. All SR defined from SRD sources have been implemented as Max Value effects. These effects ensure that only the highest source of SR will be used.
Min Value Similar to the Max Value above, but for the minimum value. (This is useful for assigning the greatest penalty rather then the greatest bonus).
Proficiency This type is currently used only for Thrown attacks: All weapons 'thrown' have a -4 Proficiency Penalty. If that weapon can be thrown (like a dagger), it gets a +4 Proficiency bonus to offset that -4 penalty. This is done internally in the Sheet when a weapon is defined as "Thrown" or not.
Caster This special is used to handle classes/races that grant spellcasting ability like a base class does (example: the Rakshasas race). It basically tells the sheet that the class/race can 'cast spells' like an existing casting class.
Manifester This special type is used to handle Psionic classes/races that grant manifesting ability like a base psionic class (example: the Unbodied race). It basically tells the sheet that the class/race can 'manifest powers' like an existing manifesting class.
Class Skill This is a special type that was created to allow the addition of Class Skills to a Class. Because it is a bit special, it has its own help page which is available here.
String This special type is used to handle Strings in the Modifier part of the effect.

How to Create Effects

Before we examine how to CREATE effects in TOS+, let us make sure we are all on the same page and use the same language:

Effect: An Effect is a condition that affects your Character. For instance a "+1 Racial Bonus to Saving Throws" is an effect.

Each Effect is comprised of 3 parts: The Effect Name, the Effect Type and finally an Effect Modifier. For the racial bonus above, the three parts would be:

Table: The three parts of an Effect
Effect Name Effect Type Effect Modifier
All Saves Racial Bonus +1

Effect Name

For our purposes, let us refer to Effect Names as a target. Almost anything with a value can be made into a target. The worksheet called IntegrationData [we will get into that on the next page] contains multiple lists of targets. Some targets are more obvious than others. For instance, the 'CON' target indicates the Character's Constitution score. Others are class features that have been turned into targets to allow future custom classes to 'add' to them! For example, the 'Lay on Hands (Su)' target (or ability) is available to allow you to increase the level of a Paladin's ability (perhaps from a prestige class which adds its level to that of the Paladin to determine the effect of the paladin's Lay on Hands ability!) Other targets affect many characteristics at once. For instance, the 'ALL Saves' target will affect all three saving throw bonuses.

The targets listed in the IntegrationData Worksheet are all of the targets that have already been integrated into some part of TOS+, but those are not the only valid targets. If you decide that you want to create a new ability, you can track it the same way. Perhaps you wish to use Sanity rules. Even though TOS+ is not anticipating an Effect named Sanity, you can create it to use for your campaign. Because it is not currently evaluated by TOS+, you will have to evaluate it the way you want, but it will take advantage of all of the benefits of Effects, allowing multiple effects to augment (either with bonuses or penalties) your new Sanity effect. We will get into how to evaluate effects later.

Effect Type

See above for more information about Effect Types. You may also define your own effect types (although there is usually no need for that).

Effect Modifier

The effect modifier is simply the value (number) to apply to the effect target. Only the two types Class Skill [casting race] do not use a number for the modifier (see their entries for more information).

Effects in TOS+

Now that we know what Effects are, it is time Implement Effects in TOS+

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