Specifically, does this system allow characters to deal damage far beyond what would typically be expected from characters of their level?
I'm working on a techno-fantasy setting for a campaign, and want to have a system of magical 'implants', for want of a better word, which will allow characters to temporarily boost a stat at the expense of a debuff for a significant cooldown period afterwards.
What I'd like to know is if this system has any exploits that allow characters to deal game breaking amounts of damage.
For example: A first level character with a battle axe and strength of 16 can do a max of 11 damage per round using a standard melee attack. Using this system the character could potentially do 21 damage every three rounds with that same melee attack.
Are there any situations which do perform better than not using the system? The goal is to allow characters to be able to trade more damage spread over time (vanilla) for short burst damage.
In a nutshell: A character could use a bonus action to boost their base stat for a number of rounds, followed by an identical but negative modifier to that stat for twice the number of rounds.
For example: A character with strength 10 could boost to strength 12 for one round, gaining a +1 modifier. They end the boost at the end of their turn, and for the next two turns are on cooldown, and debuffed to strength 8, taking a -1 modifier to strength.
Limits: The limit on how much/long a character can boost is determined by their base stat. The total benefit gained can never exceed that stat. This is calculated by adding together all of the benefit gained thus far. So a boost of 2 for 4 rounds is a total of 8.
For example: A character with 14 dex could boost to 28 dex for one round, or to 21 dex for two rounds, or 18 for three rounds.
Save: At the end of every turn using a boost, roll a d20. If a 20, the turn doesn't count against the limit, though the turn does count towards the cooldown period. If a 1, immediately enter burnout. If less than 10, the turn counts double towards both the limit and cooldown.
- A character has a dex of 14 and is boosting to 28, and at the end of their turn they roll a 6. They enter burnout.
- A character has a dex of 14 and is boosting to 16. They can maintain this boost for 7 rounds. At the end of turn one they roll 20, and still have 7 turns remaining. At the end of turn two they roll 6, and have 5 turns remaining. They decide to end the boost, and go on cooldown for 6 turns at a dex of 12.
Burnout: Immediately make a save vs. your reduced stat, passing if you roll lower than the stat. If you fail, take direct damage equal to your unmodified stat. On a pass, take half as much. You may not boost again until you finish a short rest, and your cooldown time is doubled.
- A character with strength 18 is boosting to 36. They roll a 4 on their save, and enter burnout. They roll a d20 for their burnout save, but as their modified stat is 0 they cannot pass. They take 18 direct damage and have strength 0 for 4 rounds.
- A character with char 13 if boosting to 14. They roll a 1 on their save, and enter burnout. They roll a 6 on their burnout save, which is under 12, so they pass. They take 6 direct damage, and are at char 12 for 4 rounds.
Misc and edge cases:
- Only one stat can be boosted at a time.
- In the case of a con boost, temporary hit points are added for the HP the character would have gained. On cooldown, the hp max is reduced as if the character were at the new lower con as if the character had been hit for that much damage by a wraith. Any hp lost in this way are regained after cooldown ends. If this were to take a character below 0 hp, they will end cooldown but immediately enter burnout.
The time increments are standard rounds when in combat (i.e. 6 seconds). Out of combat the time increment is one minute. Any carryover is directly converted. The rationale here is that the intensity of energy use is about the same for these periods.
For example: A sorcerer has boosted char from 16 to 20 to sweet talk a guard. Getting past the guard the party is recognized by their target and they enter combat. The sorcerer had been boosted for 2 min, so they can continue the boost for two rounds of combat, or immediately end the boost for four rounds of cooldown at a char or 12.
Notes: I'm fairly confidant that this system doesn't unfairly advantage one class or race over another. In cases where AC is dex dependent (dragon sorcerer, monk, some armor) the AC can be boosted, but this is balanced out by the reduced ac on cooldown. There is the potential for casters to be incredibly powerful for short bursts, as their spell save dc would be modified as well, but this would not be terribly reliable, and would realistically only deal with one wave of enemies, making them dead weight for the rest of an encounter. I see the system as fostering teamwork, as characters could take turns boosting and defending those on cooldown, adding a lot of versatility in the types of threats that they can deal with. I also think that it scales fairly well, as at higher levels the effects of burnout become more manageable, allowing for higher boosts given the risk/reward.
For further consideration: Should a boost require a bonus action to shut off? Should a boost require a bonus action each round to be maintained? Should the boost only be allowed in increments of 2, so that a character has to take some sort of penalty, or is the potential for burnout enough (as in the second burnout example)? What level would these implant's be appropriate for? I'm currently planning on introducing them at level 5.
I welcome any feedback, even if not specifically answering the question! Thanks!