Following a very interesting discussion with one of my offline players, I thought I'd write some notes about how certain facets of the game might operate under the modifier rules I proposed on the last post. Some of this was discussed in the comments yesterday.
Starting off, I proposed that two units be employed in order to keep track of the negative modifiers adding up due to the exhaustion from combat, adding that each player could keep a store of pennies and nickels to keep track of these. To clarify:
3 pennies = 1 nickel = -1 to hit modifier
So for each nickel you gained, your chance to hit would drop by 1. Neither your damage from a hit, nor your overall movement, would not be modified. This is for two reasons: one, to Keep It Simple Stupid; and two, to allow players to continue to be somewhat combat effective for a longer time, thus promoting the playability of the idea.
Core gains in pennies and nickels then would be as follows:
Missing with a hand-held weapon: 1 penny added.
Hitting with a hand-held weapon: 1 nickel added.
Resting one round without attacking, moving more than 10' or otherwise performing any sort of labor: 1 penny removed.
Three misses would then equal one hit. Eventually, whether you hit or missed with a weapon, you would begin to feel so exhausted by the process that you had to fall back from the combat and rest.
It has been proposed that some players could opt for 'combat training' that would increase their benefit in the face of this system. I would argue that fighters obviously already have this benefit, in that they start with a better 'to hit' table, and are therefore already up on other classes. There is no present 'to hit' bonus for fighters who are more fit that other fighters right now, so no benefit would be invented in my system.
There is always a tendency on the part of D&Der's to invent additional bonuses and exemptions for special circumstances which are invented out of the air to apply to every new system that comes down the pike, and I say that if said circumstance DID NOT EXIST BEFORE, there's no reason why it should exist now. Said new exemption would be another proposed rule entirely, and if it isn't something that would be applies to the combat system as it stands now, without the new rule I'm proposing, then, ipso facto, it should not apply to the new rule I'm proposing.
A few additional elements, then, that came up in last evening's conversation:
Mounted characters: There's no reason why a mounted person on a horse should find attacking less strenuous than an standing person - again, there's no special existing premise in the game, so why should there suddenly be one now that a new rule is proposed? However, since the horse can carry the mounted rider away more easily, and since the rider is not taking strenuous action while riding the horse (and not fighting or galloping), the it is obviously easier for mounted persons to escape the combat, rest, and get back into the combat very quickly. Getting away from the combat to rest could take three or four rounds, with another three or four rounds before being able to return to the combat. A mounted person could accomplish escape and return in just one or two rounds.
Archers: Firing a bow (or any missile attack) would have the same effect as swinging any other kind of weapon, except that hit or miss requires the exact same amount of work. Unlike a swinging a sword against a shield, there is no shock from the blow (which is why a hit would gain a nickel, but a miss only gains a penny). Therefore, all attacks with missile weapons, hit or miss, only gains the participant a penny. This vastly increases the importance of archers in a battle without having to apply more damage to the weapon itself. It is simply more accurate over a longer period of time.
Casting of Spells: Unlike the Player's Handbook, my spells all require one round to cast per two levels of the spell. I don't use segments. Some might be like to say that a caster gains one penny per spell level, but I can say for my system that the caster gains one penny per round of casting (or per two levels of spell). Thus, a 3rd level spell would take two rounds to cast and cost a penny per round. A 6th level spell would take three rounds to cast. Discharging a spell would not cost any pennies, as it is really a sort of 'relaxation' as the caster gets rid of the energy they have accumulated through casting (that's how I see it, anyway). However, if the spell was one that required concentration, such as a wall of fire or phantasmal force, then the caster would continue to gain one penny each round the spell was in effect. If the caster wanted to hold the spell after casting, before discharging (which is possible in my world), then a penny would be gained for each round of continuing to hold the spell before letting it go.
Additionally, if the caster were controlling a golem or some conjured creature, or some other character were using a device of some kind that required concentration, then this concentration too would gain one penny per round. It would not affect the creature's chance to hit, but if the spell or device required the caster/controller to roll to hit according to their own ability (such as a Melf's Acid Arrow or a Spiritual Hammer) the caster's present exhaustion WOULD be relevant.
Maximum Exhaustion: Since 20 nickels would equal a -20 chance of hitting, I propose that this be accepted as the base maximum amount of activity that can be performed before the individual MUST REST before performing any other attack or casting any other spell. This would naturally be increased if the player had an inherent strength bonus for hand to hand weapons, or an inherent dexterity bonus for missile weapons. 20 nickels is the equivalent (assuming 12 second rounds - hey, its my idea, its my world) of successfully slamming a heavy weapon against an opponent for six minutes ... roughly the equivalent of hitting a moving target with a sledge hammer for an equal period of time. As I said, applying the K.I.S.S. rule, the character could still move away from combat at full movement rate (though perhaps not being allowed to run at triple or quadruple speed), they just couldn't swing, shoot or cast a spell (or concentrate on one).
Swinging for Less Damage: It was proposed that if a character were to poke with a weapon, rather than swing for the weapon's full force, the amount of damage - and of pennies gained - could be reduced each round. In other words, if a short sword does 1-6 damage on a full swing, gaining the player a full nickel and thus a full -1 modifier, then the player could opt for the weapon causing only 1-4 damage this round (intentionally not swinging hard) and thus gaining only 2 pennies, or causing only 1-2 damage, and gaining only 1 penny. This could be very important if the player sees that it will only take 1-4 to probably kill the present opponent, and wishes to conserve the character's strength.
At present, I have not decided to incorporate any of these rules into my campaign, and obviously none of them are tested. Hell, I just invented them this last week. But I think there are some interesting angles here that deserve being examined, and I think at some point I might be inclined to include some or all of them into a campaign.