Monday, March 19, 2018

Simple Dungeons & Dragons Part 1

So do you remember this post from a long time ago, about a simplified D&D I was working on? It's done! Here is page 1, the Greenhorn's Guide. It contains all of the fundamentals of what an RPG is and how to play such a game.

Download it here!

If you've ever been interested in playing an RPG, then you should take a look at this document. In a single sheet, the basics of what you need and what to do are explained with the highest clarity one can muster in such short space.

Monday, March 12, 2018

POLARISUS: Hybridizing Game Systems

The following is a game system hybridizing the task negotiation system from Polaris with the character creation system from Risus, to create a new game that takes advantage of the best of both.
It is written with the assumption that the reader has some basic knowledge regarding what an RPG is or how to play. The dice pool system was scrapped to improve portability. People are much more likely to have access to 2d6 than 6d6. Luckily, the default numbers, maxing at 6 ranks, means that the best you can get is a +50% success rate as a mod to any die throw.


The Dungeon Master is the host of the game. They decide the setting and content.

Every participant in the game, including the DM, must make at least 1 character.


A character consists of a description; covering their appearance, personality, and background; and a series of cliches which describe them.

Each character has 10 points with which to buy cliches for their character. Players can buy ranks in cliches on a 1:1 ratio, up to a limit of 6th rank.

Each character also gets 1 feature from each rank they have in each cliche. Features include gear, property, titles, pets, subordinates, money, and even super-powers!

The DM must prepare a list of cliches  available for players to build their characters with. Each cliche must come with at least half a page of explanation, followed by at least 12 features for players to choose from. Features must have at least 1 mechanical in-game effect.

In addition to purchasing cliches, players can also take hooks, as prepared by the DM. Hooks are negative cliches which invoke penalties or limit the abilities of a character. By taking a hook, a character gets 1 extra point to buy cliches with.


After the DM sets the scene, players take turns describing what they want their characters to do, and what they expect the outcome of those actions to be. During the player's turn, the DM responds to their attempted actions with either agreement, (Yes) or disagreement, (No). If they agree, the described actions are considered to have taken place, and play proceeds from that point. If the DM disagrees, negotiations begin. During ALL DESCRIPTIONS, even during negotiations, there are 2 rules regarding what you can and can not describe:

1. Nobody can arbitrarily declare the death of any character, not even enemy monsters. There is already a rule system handling conflict and defeat. You can describe the death of your own character, but only if everyone at the table supports it.

2. As with death, players cannot declare any other aspect of the game that is already handled by dedicated rules, especially those made by the DM to support the setting.

3. Nobody can declare a reassignment of metagame roles, such as declaring themselves the new DM.


In the case where the DM agrees with a description, they can agree in one of 3 ways:

  1. Yes, yes. Absolute agreement, play continues, and the ball is in the player's court again to provide another description. This is not a negotiation, but rather, a positive end to negotiations. This is the response both players must give in order for a situation to be resolved.
  2. Yes, and... Agreement, with additional consequences/results/reactions continuing from where the player left off. This response is especially necessary when NPCs are involved, so the DM can describe and play out their reactions to the players, and to describe the results of things not known by the players, such as the contents of a chest, or the activation of a trap.
  3. Yes, but... Partial or conditional agreement. This is an ultimatum. The DM is saying they will allow the player's description IF that player also agrees with their additional description. This is typically used to ramp up the stakes, but can also be used to change the context of a situation, or to introduce new obstacles.

In response to any of the above, the player can then respond with either a full agreement, (Yes, yes.) or further negotiations.

In the case where the DM disagrees with a description, for whatever reason, they again have 3 ways of doing so:

  1. No, but... This is a partial disagreement, and is similar to the "yes, but" in that it is conditional. Where a "yes, but" adds on to the end of the previous description, a "no, but" inserts additional description into or before the previous description.
  2. No, and... More severe, this is a complete negation of the previous description. The DM describes a completely different line of events from where the previous description began. This should only be necessary when a player's description triggers events that make the rest of their description impossible or irrational. There should be reasonable effort put into the replacement description to include the spirit of the original description but bring it in-line with the situation at hand.
  3. No, no. This is a breakdown of negotiations. Basically, this means negotiation has failed, and resolution must pass to the neutral arbitrator: the dice.

In response to any of the above but No,no; the player can respond with further negotiations.

The player can respond to the DM's negotiations with all of the same terms.

(For example, a player could declare an action, followed by the DM saying Yes, and [...], followed by the player rejecting the addition with a No, but [...], followed by the DM declaring yes, but [...], followed by the player saying yes, yes, thereby ending negotiations and resolving the activity without resorting to dice.)

There are a few distinctions between how the player uses these terms, as opposed to the DM, however:

The DM can describe the world and the creatures living in that world, as well as their behaviors, and by necessity, how the characters sense/experience/interpret these things. They can not outright decide the emotions, motivations, personality, memories, decisions, reactions, or behavior of a player's character.

The player can describe their character and everything regarding their character, but can not describe any aspect of the world in terms other than how the character interacts with it. (For example, the player cannot declare "yes, but... the trap fails." because they have no authority over the mechanics of trap activation or failure, traps are part of the world, not their character.)

Any time a participant describes an interaction with another character that includes any aspect of their response, they must recieve a "Yes, yes." response from that player, as well as a "Yes, yes." from the DM.

There is one more negotiation response that can be made, that does not fall into the yes/no categories. A player may, at any stage of negotiations, declare Nevermind. Nevermind revokes all negotiations, starting everything over from scratch from the end of the last "Yes, Yes." or the last description from the DM. You can only declare a nevermind during negotiations. If you declare an action and the DM responds "Yes, yes.", that means negotiations have ended without being passed back to you for an opportunity to respond. The action passed, the SIS has been changed, and play has continued from there. This response is most useful for fixing mistakes made due to misunderstanding the SIS, where the referee has failed to explain the situation in terms that are clear to the player. Under these circumstances, the player will likely declare actions which do not make rational sense, often resulting in extreme consequences. The player, faced by the sudden realization of what is actually going on, can then be given the opportunity to revoke that decision and make a more reasonable declaration in its place.


The failure of negotiations, (No,no) results in the DM calling a check.

In a check, the DM first declares a Difficulty Class, a number between 1 and 20 representing how difficult the task is. Next, the DM looks over the character's cliches, and considers if any of them apply to what the character is doing or the way the character is doing it. If no cliches are applicable, the player rolls 2d6 and hopes to roll at least as high as the DC. If they do not, the task fails. If they do, the task succeeds. If the DM decides a cliche is applicable, they must then consider whether the cliche is appropriate or inappropriate. An appropriate cliche, such as "Soldier" for the action "Sniping an enemy with a rifle", has its rank value added to the roll. An inappropriate cliche, such as "Engineer" for the action "Using my knowledge of geometry and physics, I plan a flight path for a bullet from my rifle", has half its rank value (rounded down) added to the roll.

DC Benchmarks:
3 Trivial
6 Easy
9 Average
12 Hard
15 Very Hard
18 Nigh Impossible


When characters enter a situation where they are in a conflict, (A race, a chase, combat, an argument, a debate, etc.) The normal negotiation system is set aside and the conflict is gambled out via the conflict system.

All characters take turns declaring their input to the situation. The DM then declares applicability and appropriateness of cliches for each character's actions. All characters roll and apply any modifiers determined by the DM. Characters take 1 loss for each opponent who rolled higher than them. Each loss taken by a character acts as a -1 penalty to the cliche they used, if any. If a character has any of their cliches dropped to 0 by penalties, or if they take a loss in a round where they did not use a cliche, they have been defeated and can nolonger contribute to the conflict. The winners of a conflict determine the consequences for the losers of the conflict, but the DM can veto any consequence they find inappropriate. All penalties are erased at the end of a conflict. Any character who is defeated but survives the conflict takes a wound to the cliche they lost with. A wound is a -1 penalty to that cliche, and remains in place until the end of the adventure.

Modified Rolls

During any roll, a player may opt to pump their cliche, representing extra effort put in by the character. A pumped cliche gets +1 to the throw, but takes a penalty of -1 thereafter. A cliche may be pumped multiple times for a single action. Keep in mind that penalties taken outside of conflict are wounds. A player can also pump a roll with no cliche, but will be defeated once done, whether they succeed or fail. (Being defeated out of combat is an additional wound.)

Any roll may also be declared to have advantage or disadvantage by the DM. Advantage simply means something is circumstantially making the task easier, while disadvantage means the opposite. In both cases, the player rolls the check twice. If they have advantage, they take the higher roll. If they have disadvantage, they take the lower roll.


At the end of an adventure, each character gains 1 point to buy cliche ranks with. This can be used to improve an existing cliche, up to a limit of 6, or to buy a new cliche.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Everything I Would Change in D&D 5e


Turn Sequence and Play Flow

Look, there is a right and a wrong way to play D&D. Nobody likes to hear it, but it's just true. I am going to just come out and say it straight. Some old-time players might not like what I have to say. Too bad. They're a bunch of snobs anyways.

D&D is a type of asymmetrical theme-party game, (Called a session) where the different people playing the game serve different functions or duties in the game. The Dungeon Master (DM) is the person who is in charge of the game, and is also most often the person hosting the game. (Though sometimes the host may be a player inviting the DM into their home, or another person entirely who isn't participating in the game) The DM uses the game's rules to create a fictional setting, or world, and to allow other people to interact with that fictional environment. All of the other participants are the players, and each of them uses the game's rules to create a character. Each player controls one character at a time during a session, (But may have many characters over the course of many other sessions) and interacts with the DM's fictional setting through their fictional character. In this way, the character acts as a sort of vehicle with which a player may experience the setting, and a tool set which they may use to interact with and alter it. As the group plays the game together, they take turns describing their character's actions, while the DM responds with descriptions of the environment and the results of their actions. Together, they create a common experience called the "Shared Imagined Situation", or SIS, in which the whole group are sharing a single imaginative experience.

The game follows a patterned flow through three different stages of play:

Hex crawling is the overland travel and exploration stage of the game. In this stage of play, the party travels the world by moving about a map divided into a hexagonal grid. This map contains rules which control how long it takes to travel through a type of terrain, the type of weather you might encounter there, and even specific places, called adventure sites, which are located in a given hex. Each time the party moves into a new hex, a random encounter is generated by the DM and played out by the group. Encounters can range from changes in the weather, to bumping into other travellers, to finding some long forgotten ruin, or even possibly being attacked by dangerous wildlife! On this world map, there are two types of sites which are especially important: Urban and Dungeon locations.

Urban crawling is the stage of play which takes place when players choose to visit an urban site, such as a city or town. Players navigate the environment by taking corners down city streets and alleys as they are presented by the DM. During this stage, players may move as a party group or as individuals. Separated groups and individuals each take turns moving. Each road is divided into regular increments based on its length, representing increments of 10 minutes of walking time. If one group uses their turn to walk 3 increments to the end of a road, then they will not get another turn until all of the other groups or individuals have moved at least 3 increments as well. Each road has a chance of random encounters ocurring, and some roads have important businesses or other important buildings, which the players may access.

As characters move through and interact with the environment, the DM presents the players with characters to interact with in that environment through roleplay. During roleplay, players "act out" their characters by describing their actions and words. Roleplay is a sort of "let's pretend" for adults similar to improvisational theater- but here, the actors are also the audience. Some players may get really into the roleplay of their characters, going so far as to speak "in character" from the first person, or even dress in costume! This is not necessary in order to play the game, only an expression of how much they enjoy that part of the game. Players can just as easily describe their characters' actions in the third person, and can be as detailed or vague as they like, as long as they make their intentions clear to the DM. "My guy attacks the orc." is just as good as "I lash out with my shining blade, deathcleaver, in a bid to sever this repugnant beast's head from its shoulders!" In fact, different players at the same table may very well roleplay in completely different ways! Most players also vary the way they roleplay during a session depending on what they are describing and how important the scene may be to them.

During roleplay, the normal flow of play stops, and players can take turns roleplaying in any order they like. Players and the DM are even allowed to interrupt each other for more roleplay! (You still aren't allowed to just interrupt people to say something to someone at the table though, that's just rude.) When a single player enters roleplay, there is nothing stopping any other players from joining in, even if it is not their turn. Each time a player completes a description of what their character says or does, the DM gets a turn to respond. Unless the groups spends a really long time during roleplay, rounds do not pass. If the DM feels that the roleplay has exceeded the time duration for the rounds in the current stage of play, he may advance time by that many rounds arbitrarily.

During roleplay, which any player can do at any time during play, you are not only limited to your character's words. You can describe their posture, gestures, and even actions. Want to have your character strip naked and run into the street to go singing in the rain? Go for it... Just remember that the DM gets to respond with appropriate reactions from any onlookers in the vicinity.

Roleplay can also be mixed into the normal flow of play in order to keep things moving along at a quick pace. For example, during combat, one player may interrupt his turn to roleplay his character shouting an insult at an enemy. The DM could use his response turn to have the enemy reply immediately, or he can let the response turn pass. On that enemy's turn, he then roleplays that enemy responding with a racial slur directed at the insulting player. A second player might then choose to interrupt the normal flow to roleplay his character shouting further curses at the swearing enemy during that enemy's turn.

When entering a dangerous local area, either from the hex crawl or urban crawl, you begin a dungeon crawl. A dungeon crawl presents a topographical map of the area the players are in, divided into 1 inch square grid, each square (sometimes called a "tile" by geomorph enthusiasts and video gamers) representing 5 square feet. Players roll for "initiative" order (turn order) to determine what order they get to act in, and take turns moving through the environment and taking actions. Once each player in the location has taken a turn, that is called a round. One round represents 1 minute of activity, with the players turns representing what their characters do over the full course of that minute. When combat occurs, enemies are simply added to the initiative order, and a round is reduced to representing 6 seconds of time, dividing player movement and action limits by 10 per turn.

Should combat occur during the Hex or Urban crawl phases, a battlemap in the style of a dungeon map is presented to the players, and initiative is rolled to determine combat turn order.

Players can socialize (roleplay) with any intelligent character played by the DM, including each other and even enemies in combat!

The flow of play typically begins in an urban environment, where players prepare for adventure and recieve a mission, called a quest, from the characters controlled by the DM. The players than leave the urban site to travel through the world in the hex crawl stage, to get to their quest destination. The destination is quite frequently a dungeon site, such as an abandoned ruin or cave. Sometimes, the quest location will be an urban site, or a dungeon-like place located within the urban site. Upon entering the quest location, play enters the dungeon crawl stage, and players go about achieving their goals to satisfy their quest and advance their characters. Upon completion of this, they will reverse their trip, return to the quest-giver, and recieve their rewards. At any point in this flow, combat and social encounters may occur.

Regardless what stage of play you are in, and whether you are in a combat or social encounter, play always follows the same turn sequence:

The DM gets a turn to either describe a new scene to the players or to update the current scene with any changes that have occurred. Occasionally, events may transpire which cause the DM to move the party to a new scene during their turn. Typically, during the DM's turn, they will be checking for random encounters.

Each player then gets a turn. During a hexcrawl, all of the players share a turn as a party, and during an urban crawl, players only share turns if they are travelling together as a group. For each player/group/party turn, the DM gets a follow-up or response turn to describe the results of their actions, or to adjudicate the rules in an unique situation. Once the DM and all players have had their turn, and the DM has completed all of the response turns to each player turn, a "round" is said to have passed, and a new round begins. Rounds are the game's way of tracking the passage of time and recording the order of events. It keeps everything in the game tight and consistent, so players don't wind up a week apart from one another and other such temporal oddities. Additionally, the passage of time matters greatly for issues of survival, as your characters must satisfy their physical needs, such as food, water, warmth, etc., as well as their mental needs, such as the need of regular rest. Players who do not satisfy the needs of their characters will quickly begin to see the consequences of their inaction as their characters begin to dehydrate and become exhausted.

One final note about roleplay: Sometimes, the players will roleplay their characters doing things that change their invrionment in some way, such as opening/closing doors, pulling levers, toppling pillars, crafting items, etc. This is called an environment interaction, and falls into 3 categories:

Certainties are things a player has their character do, that are certain to succeed, or certain to fail. A character who attempts to speak while under no unusual circumstances will successfully speak. A character who attempts to breathe water without gills will begin to suffocate. These are absolutes. In most cases, certainties are abvious, and can be described in terms of their results with the assumption that they either succeed or fail. For instance, a player might say "my character closes the door", rather than "my character tries to close the door", with the assumption that there is nothing that would cause them to fail. Unless the DM introduces some additional information in a response that was not previously known, such actions should be left as-is. Sometimes, a player will attempt to do something that is impossible, whether they realize it or not, whether they could have known or not. In these situations, the DM should at least make certain that he understands the player's intentions clearly. Don't give away that they're about to just step on a death trap because they decided not to look around first, but just make sure that they really are not looking around first. As long as you are certain of the player's version of the SIS, carry out their certain failure. The DM must take care, however, in listening to the details of what is being said, not just the way it is worded, to make sure that the action is actually a certainty. If a player says "I swing my sword and lop off the dragon's head", it is likely that they are assuming far too much of their character, which brings us to the second class of actions...

Uncertainties are situations where a player assumes they will be successful at, or attempts to do, something that is uncertain. Attacking a creature that is capable of defending itself, for example, is an action with a high degree of uncertainty; you don't know if you will be successful or not. When a DM believes an action is uncertain, they will use the rules to adjudicate the results of the action, typically through a check, save, or contest- a roll of the dice that represents your probability of success. There are several highly flexible and robust rule systems which allow the DM to determine success possibility and the correct method of adjudication.

The third type of roleplay actions are called "MacGuyverisms", named after the fictional character MacGuyver. A MacGuyverism is a situation where the players attempt to rig together a solution to a problem using what they have at hand in innovative ways. For example, a player may use a nearby burning torch to set the tip of his arrow on fire before attacking an enemy with it, or the players may throw a rope and grappling hook across a river so they have something to hold on to while they wade across through the forceful current. This type of innovative play is absolutely to be encouraged, and there are many rules in the game to help the DM adjudicate the results of such situations. However, be cautious of players who attempt to use MacGuyverism as a shortcut to achieve something already controlled and represented by the game rules. Tying pots and pans to your body does not make plate armor, for example. (In that example, the game already has crafting rules for how to make items, so rigging a bunch of gathered stuff to achieve the same thing should still be handled through the crafting rules) Likewise, DMs should be cautious of players attempting to exceed the normal limits of the game through MacGuyverism, such as by building contrivances which effectively allow them to decide the outcome of an action that is typically uncertain.

Throughout all of this, the players as a group have a number of special actions which are considered to always be "true", called "Standing Orders". A standing order is a description of an activity that a character is constantly performing. For instance, a player may have a standing order that during dungeon crawls, whenever his character goes to open a door, he first feels it for heat, listens through it, and attempts to peak through the key hole and around its edges. Then, when the player actually says "I go open that door", the DM goes through the list of assumed actions from the standing order before actually describing the character opening the door. The game has many built-in standing orders that are connected to specific rules, such as "marching order" which describes the formation the party is travelling in at the start of combat.

Finally, many DMs and players dislike the highly structured movement of characters on a game board, such as during hex crawls and dungeon crawls. Sometimes they just don't want to spend the money on miniatures to represent the characters, or they lack the means to obtain the resources to make such miniatures/maps, or they don't have the time to prepare that many physical maps. Some players also dislike how this form of play makes D&D feel like a board game, or they feel that the manual manipulation of game pieces is simply a time consuming interruption to play. These players resort to a technique called "Theater of the Mind" in which EVERYTHING in the game is described, rather than shown. Often, the DM will have to come up with their own inventive tricks in order to get this style of play to work with the rules, and as a result, there is a high degree of variety among TotM enthusiasts. It is important to remember that when TotM is being done, the whole group has to do it together. You can't have one guy who just "isn't on the map" but is somehow still involved in the scene.

Material Properties:

Hardness = AC
Strength = HP

A soft metal has low AC and high HP, meaning it bends and pits but does not break.
A brittle metal has low HP in general, with overall stiffness indicated by its AC.

Nebulum (Cloud Stuff)
A material found in nebulae.

Coronium (Crown Stuff or Sun Stuff)
A material found in stars.

Selenium (Moon Stuff)
A material found in moons.

The hardest material in existence. It has no HP and infinite AC. Adamantium can only be extracted and shaped via magic. Blades of adamantium never dull, pit, chip, bend, crack, or snap, nor can it be melted down, and its mechanical properties are unaffected by temperature. Because it can not flex, it absorbs all impact energy directly as heat, rather than emitting vibrational sound. So, while striking a wall may make little more than a small clack of a sound, the full force of the impact will be felt in the hand of the wielder as if they struck the wall with their bare hands, and repeated strikes will rapidly heat the material. As such, adamantium weapons often have separate grips with internal padding to absorb the force and heat of combat.

Weaponized gold.

Weaponized Silver.

Unlike real steel, fantasy steel is not an iron alloy with carbon. Instead, it is an entirely separate element. Alloying it with other metals creates various types of steel with distinct coloration.
Raw steel is a dull grey color.
Green steel is alloyed with copper, and is softer, weaker, and lighter.
Yellow steel is alloyed with tin, and is softer and lighter.
Orange steel is alloyed with zinc, and is weaker and lighter.
Red steel is alloyed with iron, and is harder.
Purple steel is alloyed with lead and is stronger and heavier.
Blue steel is alloyed with aluminum and is stronger and lighter.
White steel is alloyed with nickel, and is harder and stronger.
Grey steel is alloyed with silver and is harder and lighter. It is sometimes called silvered steel.
Black steel is alloyed with obsidian and is harder, stronger, and lighter.

Straight out of TES, obsidian is a metal. It has an unbelievably high hardness, but very little strength, and easily snaps if taken too far.


Dragons periodically enter a "slumber" similar to a waking hybernation, in which they hole themselves up with their horde, and only interact with the outside world indirectly. They will periodically "awaken" from their slumber to actively travel the world, fight for territory, hunt, claim more treasure, seek out mates, etc. As they age, their slumber and waking periods become longer and longer. A slumbering dragon doesn't necessarily spend ALL of its time asleep or in its lair, either. They'll certainly leave to face threats or obtain food, but they won't go far, nor spend any longer than absolutely necessary. A slumbering dragon can be reasoned with, even the evil ones, if you can convince it that you have something it wants in return. Waking dragons are typically filled with a raging fury of emotions and unbridled pride, unreasonable and uncontrollable.

Age Slumber: 1d10...

Wyrmling Months
Young Years
Adult Decades
Elder Centuries

A slight rephrasing of the Round Rule.

Their original version reduced low values to 0. In most cases, 0 was completely non-functional for a given mechanic. As such, the rule should be to reduce decimals to the lowest whole number with a minimum of 1. This means 1/2=1 in this system. This matters, because mechanics which are based an half-level still need to work for 1st level characters.

Always round down >=1.

The Always and Never Rule

The words "always" and "never" when used in this book have a special meaning unique to this text, in that when used, they have a caveat: Something is only "always" or "never" true if the DM agrees with the text on the matter. The words "always" and "never" describe the nature of the default setting, and this is not necessarily true for any other setting.

So, while the book may say things like, "Paladins are always lawful good", a DM who disagrees can happily say "No they're not" and still be correct. That isn't a violation of the rules, nor is it a houserule, nor is it homebrew. It's just a different setting being represented by the same rules.

The Joesky Rule:






After slaying any living (non-undead, non-construct) creature, a player can spend some time collecting a trophy from its corpse. The player gets to decide what part of the creature is taken as the trophy, while the DM will decide its weight (and social acceptability at the table). The value of a trophy is equal to the creature's CR*100gp. (So an axe beak head would be worth 25gp, while a piece of a Tarrasque horn is worth 3,000gp, for example) It takes 1 hour per CR of the defeated creature to build a functional trophy (something that won't just degrade as a chunk of refuse) from a creature's corpse. Only one trophy can be made from a given creature.

A trophy can be used in the Crafting and Enchanting downtime activities to reduce the time it takes to make that item. When this is done, the trophy is destroyed and the new item is made from it as a base material. Only one trophy can be used per item in the crafting or enchanting process. The trophy must make some sense to the DM. It doesn't make much sense to make a full suit of plate armor from a goblin's pinky toe, for example. A sword from a dragon's horn, though? Most likely doable. The time reduction comes in the form of a price discount. The value of the trophy is deducted from the value of the item, to a minimum of 10gp. A trophy can be included in the item creation process at any

Abilities = Attributes

Lets stop using the word abilities to refer to your stats. From now on, lets use the industry standard: attributes. Also, no more use of the word scores. Instead, if a modifier is required, a modifier will be specified, or it will simply be abbreviated as the attributes abbreviated form. (For example, 10+DEX is the same as 10 + Dexterity Modifier.)

Stat Gen

Next up, a very slight change to the generation of attributes. Generally, the core rules methods give higher option power methods less tangible power in the form of numbers, while less predictable methods, where the player has less control, have the potential to provide much more tangible power. However, they goofed it in the standard array option. Specifically, instead of providing higher tangible power than point-buy, they instead created an array which is within the capacity of the point buy system, but weighted on the high end of effectiveness. This adjustment provides the player with stats with mods ranging from +3 to -2, something unachievable with pointbuy. It is more desirable than random stat generation, because it gives you actual control, but also forces you to have 3 bad attributes. It is more desirable than point buy, because you can get that +3 mod, guaranteed, right out the bat, but again you are forced to endure a bad score, which can be mitigated in point buy. It gives real, meaningful, strategic build options for players.

Attribute Generation options:

3d6 down the line.

None of this 3d6-L BS, and no effing rerolls either! Either grow a pair and gamble your stats, or take another option, damnit!

Standard array

16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6

18CP buy

8 = O
9 = 1
10 = 2
11 = 3
12 = 4
13 = 5
14 = 7
15 = 9

Score limits are >=1 and <=20.


1 -5
2-3 -4
4-5 -3
6-7 -2
8-9 -1
10-11 0
12-13 +1
13-14 +2
15-16 +3
17-18 +4
19-20 +5

Core Mechanic

The system is no longer d20 based. The flat distribution causes far too much random swinginess which deprotagonizes the characters and makes critical hits and fumbles far too frequent. In the original system, a 20 is just as likely as a 1 on any given roll, and the maximum bonus of +5 is only a 25% success chance improvement. That means a 20th level grand-master of the warrior arts could wind up flailing uselessly for round after round just because of a string of bad rolls. The thief could be bested by a simple lock and then outdone by the barbarian, just because of weird rolls. I am abandoning the d20.

Instead, it operates on 2d10. This creates an even distribution where the median result is drawn much closer by their ability score. This significantly increases the actual value of a modifier to match its value treatment by the mechanics. It also eliminates the possibility of a 1 roll, which doesnt really matter, because nobody uses DCs below 5 anyways.

For advantage, you roll 3d10-L, and for disadvantage, you roll 3d10-H. This retains the actual value of the roll while modifying its distribution in a non-cumulative way. (Specifically by plateauing the distribution to favor one end of the range)

A crit is on a natch 20, and a fumble is on a natch 2. Crits are now called flukes. Fumbles are now called flunks. A fluke is just an automatic success regardless of DC. A flunk is just an automatic failure regardless of DC. In either case, rolls should only be called for tasks which are believed to be possible, however slim, in order to avoid crits allowing characters to succeed at tasks they could not possibly do.

Checks are to roll over a DC.

Saves are to roll under your score with a modifier equal to what you would get if the DC were an ability score.

A contest is a check where the DC is the opponent's roll; the winner is whoever rolls higher.


I have a HUGE beef with the way races are handled in D&D. They treat hybrids as whole new types of living things and give them arbitrary racial traits with no connection to their apparent blood roots. So sick of that BS.

Race is now species.

Subrace is now breed.

Half-anything species do not exist. No halforcs or halvelves. No tieflings. No dragonborn.

To crossbreed anything, take the species of your mother and the breed of your father. (So, to make a dragon-man, you would choose the human species and then apply one of the dragon species's breeds, in this case the half-dragon template, instead of a human ethnic breed.)

Senses are now listed traits and include visual acuity in both light and dark, sound sensitivity, sense of smell, etc.


Adding lifepaths, because it is a genius way to create meaningful characters with little to no effort. Giving players the option to go through the system without rolling dice works well to get universal usage as a chargen process.

Lifepaths system for creating backgrounds and backstories via minigame. Creates family, friends, enemies, etc. Gives skills and proficiencies arbitrarily outside of the feature system.

It should be a combination of the Mekton Zeta lifepaths system, which focuses primarily on fluff, family, and backstory information, and the Traveller lifepaths system, which deals with past professional life.

I Hate Classes

The class system is retarded. It is so fucking hard to design and test a class, and the difficulty of doing so is multiplied by the number of existing classes it has to interact with, that it eventually becomes impossibly high-maintenance to manage. A single class can be so complex in its intercontent balance, that it takes YEARS to be fully tested. Lunacy. It makes the game nearly impossible to manage. Worse, classes are restrictive, forcing players to try and express their brilliant ideas through one of a few narrow visions. Multiclassing opens the options, but only amplifies the complexity of the design process. So to hell with it.

There is no such thing as a class. Instead, the system is fully converted over to a skill-based or feat-like system, where players gain one new feature of their choice from a library of features, each time they gain a level. Full customizability. Full genre emulation. Full flexibility. Infinite potential. Easily moddable. Less maintenance for more variety, without becoming inordinately elaborate in the extremely overwhelming sort of way that 3.5e was.

Some species/breeds grant access to restricted features.

Some features can be taken multiple times to either amplify their power or gain additional variants or uses of the effects.

Each character first chooses a Primary Attribute, or PA. This attribute is routinely referenced as a standard for many features. It also determines your starting number of features, >=1.

Some features have a prerequisite, such as a minimum attribute value, or a minimum level.

In essence, I am taking all of the class features out of their class structure, and instead turning them all into individual feats, and increasing the number of feats each character can take. This effectively allows players to build their own class through play. Simple AF.


HD being based on class was fucking stupid anyways. You could play a 30ft tall giant and wind up with a d6 for HD because you chose to be a spellcaster. Re-fucking-tarded. HD should have always been based on species and size class. The die size should represent just how tough the creature is for its size, while the die count should be based on its actual size class. So, for example, a frail, tiny creature, like a fairy, might have 1d4, while an iron giant might have 5d20. Then you just multiply that roll by level to get actual HP. I'm thinking most human-like creatures would be like 3d4 or 3d6, maybe the occasional 3d8 for something like a goliath, right? Dwarves, being small, would be like 2d8, halflings would be 2d6, and gnomes would be 2d4. Something big, like a minotaur, would be like 4d8 or something.

Combat. All of it.

5e combat was a baby-step in the right direction. I would have gone way farther. I would have gutted the whole damn thing and focused on maximizing streamlining of the process.


Lets start by fixing the terminology for finding targets. 5e went the wrong way here, focusing on a decidedly awkward phraseology, which it then abandoned after the corebooks. Dumb. Effects specify a target by the word target. A target is typically any sort of animate being, but may also be any other physical noun, such as an object or location. Occasionally, the words ally or enemy may be used by an effect.If this is the case, it basically means the player gets to decide who is affected, because it is up to the player who they consider to be friend or foe, not the DM.

Next, we need to fix the terminology for effect durations, time references, and rest economy. Specifically, we need to make them transparent, that is to say, specifically interchangeable with one another by clear metrics. This makes them useful for all formats of play without getting bogged down in ambiguity. Effect durations are measured in turns (instant), rounds (6 seconds), encounters (1 minute), breaks (1 hour), and rests (days). So, for example, an effect which lasts 5 encounters lasts for 5 minutes, or 50 rounds in a very long combat. A 3 break effect has a duration of 3 hours. A daily effect has a duration of 1 rest. A 6 turn effect is the same as a 6 second or 1 round effect.

Finally, we need to change how character attention is controlled. Easiest way to do that, is to make attention sinking effects into status conditions representing varying degrees of attention consumption by an effect. Some effects require different degrees of attention. Attention can be occupied in one of two forms. An action which requires concentration is incompatible with other actions which demand any degree of attention, but still allows you to do anything else. Actions which require focus are incompatible with any other action type. Actions which require a trance are not only incompatible with all other actions, but are also ended by being hit by any kind of game effect.

Action Economy

Combat action economy simplified and made blatant. The previous system suffered from having a variety of action currencies, none of which were clearly stated, and several key action types ambiguously occupied cross-currency roles. One of the currencies, object interactions, was so scarce compared to the basic functional activity of a person, that it deprotagonized characters by forcing great heroes to stumble over their own two feet if they did anything other than fight during combat.

Each turn, you have a limited amount of action points to do stuff. AP is 7+DEX, but may be modified by species/breed. AP gains a modifier based on DEX. AP also recieves penalties from different tiers of encumbrance. As long as you have AP to spend, you can make actions, and you can make as many actions as youd like, of any number of any type, that you can afford. As such, AP is a fully-encompassing measure of how much you can do in a turn. It means that a non-fighter can still totally make more than one attack in a turn- the fighter's extra attacks feature multiplies each attack action he takes, meaning his first rank of extra attack actually DOUBLES his attack output.

Minor actions cost no AP. You can do a number of minor actions equal to your max AP per turn. (Minor actions are cumulative to your limit, regardless of how much AP you have remaining. You can still do this stuff, even if you have no remaining AP. Get it?) Minor actions include drawing and sheathing weapons, dropping or grabbing items, tossing objects, opening and closing doors, pulling levers, rummaging through your inventory, consuming edible things, speaking, gesturing, making noises, etc.

Actions cost AP based on what type of action they are.

Movement is an action that costs 1AP per step.

A step is ~5ft, or 1 square/tile, or 1 hex, or 1in of table surface. It is an arbitrary value which can be reproprotioned to any metric of representation, and so is fully compatible with all grid formats, gridless tactics, and TotM play. Different modes of movement do not normally cost you different amounts of AP. If you can fly, you can not fly any faster than you can walk, swim, climb, etc. (This fixes a huge problem with 5e. It FINALLY introduces dimentional transparency between game rules and play scales, and also fixes the complexity of varying speed limits for different movement modes. Had movement originally worked this way, Aarakocra would not have been such a mess at release.)

Difficult terrain increases the price of movement to 2/step or 3/step, depending on the severity. 2/ is like wading through waste-deep water, working through a thick underbrush, or trudging through knee-deep sludge. 3/ is like walking in neck-deep water, marching against hurricane-force winds, or dragging a corpse tied to your waist.

The dash action costs 1AP and allows you to move 2 steps. (Difficult terrain will reduce the number of steps taken by its additional AP cost. For example, at 2/, the terrain is adding 1AP of cost, and so reduces the dash step to 1. Because 3/ terrain reduces the number of steps below 0, it is functionally impossible to dash in such conditions.)

The attack action takes 3AP, and allows you to make an attack roll using one equipped weapon on a target within range. (Because characters have multiple minor actions, it is actually possible for a character to use two different two-handed weapons to attack in a single round. That's fine! That's awesome and heroic!)

The grapple action invokes a STR contest against a target within reach of your unarmed attack, and can only be done if you have a free hand. On a success, the taregt is grappled. If the target is 2+ SC larger than you, instead of becoming grappled, you are instead climbing on that creature. Alternatively, if it is 2- sizes smaller than you, it is restrained, and you have picked them up. (This combines three different combat actions into one mechanic.)

The hesitate action costs 2AP, and pushes you down one turn in the initiative order. If you are the last turn in the round, taking this action simply ends your turn. (Unlike the developers, I have no qualms about giving players options to manipulate initiative order. This is an awesome way to reward fast characters, by giving them the option to pull their punches and behave carefully in response to more brash enemies. By having it cost AP, we limit this so the first position character can't intentionally delay to the end of the round and get two turns in a row. This also effectively absorbs the effects of the prepare action thanks to the expansion of reactions further down!)

Major actions consume AP and end your turn the moment they are taken. Major actions are always features.

Reactions are now an out-of-turn action type which cost standard AP and have no specific restriction of their own. Any time a character makes any type of action, any other character involved in the battle can interrupt initiative with a reaction for 1AP. This allows them to take a standard action out of initiative order as a response during someone else's turn. (This system completely replaces AOOs and OAs by fusing them into the reactions resource and prepare action from 5e, making a much more elegant mechanic. It also makes for a much livelier representation of combat. Nobody is just statically standing by while the others take turns swinging at one another.) A character can also react to a reaction for 1 additional AP than the reaction they are responding to. (This allows the reaction mechanic to incorporate the argument mechanic which makes diceless games like Amber tick) Any actions taken during a reaction also cost AP. A reaction is not a turn; a turn is a moment in time, not the things you do during that time.

When a character makes any kind of roll, they may spend AP to give the attack, check, or save a bonus. (In the case of a save, bonuses are applied to the attribute, not the roll) AP spent in this way does not restore at the end of the round. (There, now Ive absorbed the diceless resource management gig from Marvel Heroes into this system too! This completely displaces the hero points and inspiration BS. Why have extra currencies for something so simple? By having it eat AP, the benefits are balanced by the cost of reduced options for the rest of the round. In other words, while fast characters can spend AP to react and delay, slow characters can spend AP to react and buff. Neither side has a specifically huge advantage, so all it does is add tactical options.)

Resource Transparency

Next, we need to standardize resource and time management systems such that they are transparent to one another. This is a continuation of the transparent durations from the combat section.

Characters do not regain spent character resources over time, or due to events like the ending of combat. Instead, resources are recharged by breaks or rests. Breaks and rests can be taken at any time. This was a huge improvement by 5e it made the resource economy's ticker clear and simple, and put the control of it in the players hands.

A break takes 1 hour, and recharges most limited action resources, like spell points.

Effects with a duration in breaks end when that many breaks have been taken, or in that many hours at the stroke of a clock.

A rest takes 8 hours, and recharges HP and other character resource pools.

Effects with a duration in rests end when that many rests have been taken, or at the end of that many days at the complete setting of the sun. (This is necessary to eliminate arguments about what constitutes a day. It isnt about time, its about sunset. Period. I dont care if that makes offworld sci-fi less functional, that is not the intended representation.)

A break or rest may be interrupted, negating its benefits, which only occur at the completion of the break or rest. (The original rules did not specify at what point in a rest the benefits are applied. This eliminates that ambiguity.)

During a rest, characters cannot participate in any activities which evoke effects, require any kind of roll, result in the consumption of character resources, demand any degree of attention, or otherwise have mechanical significance. In other words, they are eating, sleeping, sitting, chatting, reading, walking, etc. Yes, characters can take breaks and rests while walking.

Gygaxian Magic is Horse Shit.

Lets commit yet another cardinal sin, shall we? I would like to completely abandon Gygaxian magic. See, thanks to his myriad of influences, most prominently Jack Vance, Gygax had a terrible tendency to conflate the whole of the supernatural as magic. As such, spellcasting became more important than the actual workings of magic, and all of religion became magical in nature. Magic was carried out by ritual and existed in static, arbitrary forms, obfuscated as being "arcane". Functionally, a wizard and a cleric are the same thing, they just have different spells in their arsenal. Individual spells are just arbitrary things a spellcaster can do, and the number of spells they can use in a given time is controlled by a gimmick, typically in the form of spells per day, spell slots, spells known, spell points, or spell preparation. A given spell is functionally a magic-bomb. the spellcaster has a limited number of them, and when he uses them they are gone until he reaches another gimmick-based replenishment point. This system is a clunky pain in the ass.

Instead, I would like to straight-up steal the spellcrafting mechanics from Morrowind and the power design mechanics from Hero System to create a system by which players can design their own spells on the fly. I specify the Hero system, because it is purely abstract. When you design a power, the mechanics you give it are just game terms. You get to decide what those mechanics mean, what it represents, what it looks like. That kind of flexibility is a far superior solution for how to approach magic in D&D.

This way, you could make different spellcasting gimmicks as features, and have them alter the way players interact with the magic design system.

Innate spellcasters (Sorcers) could have a pool of spellpoints and some rules for how to spend spell points for spell effects on the fly. They might not be able to cast as many spells as the others, but their nuanced approach allows them to do anything they want within their power in the moment.

Rule magic spellcasters (Wizards) could have spellbooks with limited page space, and spend spell points to design new spells in their downtime, which occupy page space based on their complexity, and then use spell points in play to simply cast the spells they have recorded in their books. They have the most power, but it takes time to build up, and has actual physical burden.

Derivative spellcasters (Clerics, witches/warlocks, and other casters who act by deriving power from another entity) might have rules on how to design rituals to pay for their spells as a way of reducing spell point cost.

Idunno. Its just an idea. Whatever the case, I dont like the way magic has been handled in any edition of D&D, and a spellcrafting system seems like the best solution. It is easily expanded upon, with each additional design mechanic added effectively expanding the full potential spell list by millions of varieties.

Another nice thing about the hero system for designing effects, is that it is also used to design equipment. Now, i want to hold to the trop that characters can spend their money as they wish, so I'm not saying player gear is part of character build AT ALL. However, the same power system used to design spells could also be used to design equipment for the crafting system. This would create mundane/supernatural effect transparency. Everything a PC has in their arsenal is playing by the same rules. Expanded to its utmost, the MTS from Makton Zeta could be incorporated into the crafting and spell design system! You could make a wand that casts a spell that creates a flying castle of exact and precise design.

Spell Research

Research DC = Level

Modified by spell book source
Basic Rules: +5 (5-25)
Players Handbook: +10 (10-30)
Supplements: +15 (15-35)

When a caster goes to learn a spell, if their class has them specialize in a specific school of magic, halve the DC.

Even when a class provides a character with additional spells from level up, pcharacters must still spend DT on the Research activity to learn those spells. This research is nolonger assumed, and is isntead being actively represented via play.

In tandem with level training, this makes spellcasters take much, much longer to progress. While they take the same amount of time to gain levels as any other character, they don't get all of their features right away. Instead, in order to make use of their additional spells, they have to spend additional time researching those spells.


Any spell can be cast as a ritual at 10minutes per spell level. Casting a ritual still counts as casting a spell, and so can not be done during a long rest.

Monster Races

You know whats stupid? When your hobgoblin PC does not, and could not ever possibly, function the same as an NPC hobgoblin. It is a jarring imbalance in the mechanics of a game. It is an internal inconsistency which ruins the suspension of disbelief.

No NPC or monster stat blocks. The word monster is no longer used to refer to any combat NPC. Instead, species/breed information is provided for each type of entity, along with special rules which apply only to them, and unique feature lists available only to their kind. You build every wolf, crow, dragon, litch, bouncer, king, and golem in the exact same way as you would a character. This enables players to play literally ANYTHING the DM allows them, because everything is playing by the same rules. This standard also makes it EXTREMELY easy to hybridize just about anything to create an infinite number of combination creatures.

For example, say I wanted to create a chimera. I would start with a lion as the species, then add the red dragon breed, giving it a fire breath attack. Next, I would apply several breeds as templates. I would give it the bighorn goat breed to give it a ram attack and the viper snake breed to give it a poisonous bite attack. Finally, if I wanted a winged variant as appears in D&D (though not in myth) I could simply give it a basic winged creature template to top it off. Finally, generate attributes, give it a level, and choose any remaining species features not already decided by what I was trying to represent. Essentially, a breed is just a mandatory species template.

Restoration of the OSR format.

I want to bring back real play progression by keying certain types of features to level requirements, so that certain types of play become possible and desirable at designated stages in the game. When reading this progression, remember that I would slow character advancement DRASTICALLY. Compared to the 5e reward system, I would reduce xp awarded per individual task, reduce xp awarded per adventuring day, and significantly increase xp requirement to level. Where 5e expects 300xp per adventuring day, grants 100xp per goblin, and only needs 300xp to attain second level, I would expect maybe 25xp per adventuring day, give maybe 5xp per goblin, and expect maybe 500xp to attain second level. (That's 20 adventuring days, plus however many downtime days in the background. That's a good 1-2 months of in-game time, and probably several months of play time. All at the first level.) Give the players some time to really play into, get used to, and enjoy their characters for what they are, rather than constantly chasing that next novel level gain. This kind of slow progression from n00b to deity was the fundamental premise underlying D&D from its foundational state as a homebrew game of one-man-army Chainmail in Dave Arneson's garage. THAT is what D&D is about, not the individual mechanics that we use to get there. Gygax's vision, his dream, was to create an endless, boundless tabletop MMO in which the combined minds of DMs the world over create a unified world of adventure.

First tier, levels 1-5: Dungeon Crawling focused.

This tier is all about the individual adventures. Characters have a patron who they carry out tasks and jobs for. Sure, elements of the other tiers are present, but only as a necessity to segue from one adventure to the next. (In particularly, hex crawling is present here, but only as a matter of overland travel)

Second tier, levels 5-10: Hex crawling focused.

At this stage of the game, players are now focusing on the hexmap. Sure, they still have adventures in the local area format, and even go dungeoneering from time to time, but the main drama plays out in the realm. Players are clearing land, taking property, building strongholds, forging armies, and waging wars.

Third tier, levels 10-15: Political Intreigue focused.

At this point, the characters have become legendary heroes of high status and are now directly involved in international politics. They may very likely have converted their land holdings into independent states, or be well on their way to achieving that soon. With so much power under their belt, very little threatens them, and they arent much of a threat to their enemies either. Now, it is all about wits and tongues.

Fourth tier, levels 15-20: Planeswalking focused.

At this stage of play, the heroes of attained power rivalling that of the demigods. By now, their patrons, if they have any, are deities. They arent just saving worlds, they are saving universes. Their enemies are quantum physics anomalies and metaphysical forces predating spacetime.

Fifth tier, level 20+: Epic and Immortals.

At the 20th level, characters can continue playing as mortal beings and very slowly amass additional power, or they can take on a feature which allows them to begin becoming a god. (It is only the key; they must open the door themselves)


I would add in epic rules and immortal rules as part of the core rules.

Epics are characters who, through supernatural means, have eliminated level and attribute caps. Basically, they are deific avatars; gods-in-training.

Immortals are characters who have actually become gods. This would incorporate Forge of Worlds like mechanics, allowing players to create whole campaign settings through play.


Downtime is the most perfect mechanic ever invented. I would enshrine the currency based system and make it compatible with downtime play, rather than mutual exclusivity. All of the DMG activities would be added to core rules, as would all of my homebrew activities.

Proficiency Dice:

Instead of a flat modifier, your proficiency bonus is a die added to your d20 roll. If the modifier is doubled, you roll 2 proficiency dice. Your proficiency die size is equal to your flat bonus x2. (2=1d4, 3=1d6, etc.)

Background Proficiency

A character can apply proficiency to any check which their background would reasonably prepare them for. However, they must justify their use of this proficiency in specific terms of actual past experiences that would be applicable to the current situation.

Personality Trait Proficiency

Each character must think up 4 positive personality traits. Any time a positive personality trait could apply to a check or save, that player may add proficiency to it, but they must give it some genuine roleplay- chew the scenery a bit. A characters ideals, bonds, and flaws are used, at the DMs discretion, to apply advantage or disadvantage to checks and saves under certain conditions.

Hero Points

Each character has 5 hero points. They can spend a hero point to add 1d10 to any check, save, or attack roll. A hero point can also be used to negate the effects of a failed death save. (For example, instead of taking on a death tick, the character just lays there still unstable.) Hero points are replenished on leveling.

Success at a Cost

If a character fails an attack, save, or check by 0-3, they are considered to have succeeded. However, they will be subject to a consequence. The greater the difference in failure, the greater the complications of their success. (IE: Lifting a rock, DC10, Strength Check rolls 9. "You lift the rock, but pull a muscle. You have -5 INIT until your next long rest.")

Degrees of Failure

If a character fails an attack, save, or check by a difference of 10 or more, there are additional consequences for their failure.


Any time a character rolls a natural 20 on a check, save, or attack, it is an automatic success. If, even with their modifiers added, they should still fail, they succeed anyways, but any appliccable degrees of failure still take effect. (For example, PC with +5 rolls a 20 on a DC35 check. After modifiers, they should still fail, as 25 is less than 35. However, due to the natural 20, they succeed. Because their result was 10 less than the DC, they are affected by some sort ofdegree of failure effect, after succeeding at the check.) Any time a character rolls a natural 1 on a check, save, or attack, it is an automatic failure, even if their modifiers would have them succeed. (For example, a character with +5 rolls a 1 on a DC5 check. With a result of 6, he should succeed, but the natural 1 forces an automatic failure.)


An additional ability score. Add a 6 to the standard score array.

A sanity check must be made to:
Recall any knowledge relating to a monstrosity or aberation.
Interpret the words of an insane person.
Learn spells from tomes of forbidden lore.
Decyphering text in an insane language, such as that of the Illithids.
Intentionally do something that you would consider insane, such as volunteering for a suicide mission.

Each time a character is exposed to a monstrosity or a creature from another plane/world for the first time, they must make a sanity save against a DC equal to half the creatures CR.

Each time a character is exposed to an aberation for the first time, they must make a sanity save against the aberation's full CR.

The first time a character telepathically communicates with, or is communicated to by, a given creature, they must make a sanity save against either their own INT score, or that of the other creature.
If the creature is hostile, you must save against whichever is higher.
If the creature is friendly, you use whichever is lower.
Once this check has been done, it does not need to be done again for that particular creature, even if the nature of the link changes.

Each time a character passes through an interplanar portal, they must make a sanity save. The DC is 15 and drops by 1 each time this is done.

Each time a character is struck by psychic damage, they must make a sanity save against a DC of the damage dealt.

Being subjected to spells that affect mental stability, such as the insanity option of the symbol spell, will also induce a DM-discretion sanity save.

Greater restoration will end any insanity induced by a failed sanity save.

Fear & Horror

Whenever a character is exposed to any frightening creature or situation, they must make a wisdom save or become afraid for 1 minute.

If a character is exposed to a continuing experience that is horrifying, they must make a wisdom save. A failure inflicts madness for as long as the character is exposed to that situation.

Healing Kits

A character cannot spend hit dice during a rest, unless a healer's kit has been used on them.

Slow Natural Healing

A characters health does not fully restore on a long rest. They must use hit dice, with the aide of a healers kit, just as with a short rest.

Gritty Realism

A short rest is 8 hours. A long rest is 7 days.

Speed Factor

Initiative is modified by various factors.
Actions: A character's action from the previous turn can affect their initiative for their next turn.
Cast a Spell: Subtract the spells level.
Melee Attack, Heavy or 2-Handed weapon: -2
Melee Attack, Light or Finesse Weapon: +2
Ranged Attack, Loading Weapon: -5
Size: A creatures size affrects their maneuverability, and thus their reaction time.
Tiny: +5
Small: +2
Medium: 0
Large: -2
Huge: -5
Gargantuan: -8


A creature recieves an injury each time...
It takes a critical hit.
It drops to 0 hit points.
It fails a death saving throw.

1 Lose one eye sight.
Disadvantage on sight-based perception checks. If you lose both eyes, you are permanently blinded. Regenerate can restore sight to one eye.

2 Lose one arm or hand usage.
You cannot use two hands to hold anything. You can only hold objects in your remaining hand. Regenerate can restore use to the apendage.

3 Lose foot or leg usage.
Speed on foot is halved. You must use a cane, crutch or prosthetic inorder to move, or you are stuck in the prone condition. You instantly fall prone after using the dash action. You have disadvantage on all checks related to balance. Regenerate can restore use to the apendage.

4 Limp.
Your speed on foot is reduced by 5 feet. You must make a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw after using the Dash action. If you fail the save, you fall prone. Magical healing of any sort removes the limp.

5-7 Internal Injury.
Whenever you attempt an action in combat, you must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, you lose your action and can't use reactions until the start of your next turn. The injury heals if you receive magical healing or if you spend ten days doing nothing but resting.

8-10 Broken Rib(s)
This has the same effect as Internal Injury above, except that the save DC is 10.

11-13 Horrible Scar.
You are disfigured to the extent that the wound can't be easily concealed. You have disadvantage on Charisma (Persuasion) checks and advantage on Charisma (Intimidation) checks. Magical healing of 6th level or higher, such as heal or regenerate, removes the scar.

14-16 Festering Wound.
Your hit point maximum is reduced by 1 every 24 hours the wound persists. If your hit point maximum drops to 0, you die. The wound heals if you receive magical healing. Alternatively, someone can tend to the wound and make a DC 15 Wisdom (Medicine) check once every 24 hours. After ten successes, the wound heals.

17-20 Minor Scar.
The scar doesn't have any adverse effect. Magical healing of 6th level or higher, such as heal and regenerate, removes the scar.

Average monetary treasure by tier

T1 375.7

T2 4497

T3 36370

T4 337962.5

No PC can afford to take a domain before T3. In T3 they can afford to build estates, businesses, forts, and towers. In T4 they can build abbeys, keeps, small castles, and temples. At no point during their leveling career can a single character amass enough individual wealth to contstruct a palace. Their adventuring career leaves them 160,000gp short. In order to build a palace on their own merits, they MUST continue to adventure at maximum level. Otherwise, they either need to go into debt with some powerful people, or pool the resources of the party. Even once a palace is affordable, its construction time of 1200 days means another 3 years of adventuring before your tired hero can retire to his grand palace.

A town INN costs 5,000gp to build.

It costs 5 gp to run, base.

For the first 20 days, it costs 1.5x the base price.
For the next 10 days it costs full base.
For the next 10 days it costs half base, but profits cover the remainder, so you're still making no money.
For the next 20 days you break even.
For the next 20 days, you 1d6x5gp.
For the next 10 days, you earn 2d8x5gp.
For anything over 90 days, you earn 3d10x5gp.

You must pend a minimum of 61 days to even see profits. By then, you will have sunk 5,225gp into the business alone. To cover your initial investment, you will need to run the business for 97 days more, plus the 60 days of construction time, for a time investment of 157 days, that's also the additional price you'd pay for living a modest lifestyle during that time. A comfortable lifestyle costs double. Covering that takes another 2 days, lifestyle of those days included.

So, in full, to make any profit from an inn takes a full investment of 5384gp over 159 days. After that, you will have regained all of your losses, and finally earn a living from the business alone. In order to even begin, you already must be above level 10, most likely level 15. you will have bankrupted yourself in order to do this, and could have just kept your money and downtime for some other investment. So, the only reason to do this is for roleplay purposes.

New DT Activity: Purchase Property

To purchase an existing structure costs some portion of its construction cost.

Businesses cost 50% their build cost.

Military structures cost 25% pecause they are run at a pure loss and otherwise become ruins.

Religious structures cost 75% because they want to be kept in the faith as long as possible, and they want to discourage cross-faith temple conversion.

Domestic structures vary by property value and structure quality.

Most businesses are about 5000 to build, so they are typically 2500 to buy. That means that, while you might not be able to build your way into a domain through a business before T2, you might be able to BUY your way in. It also means a T4 character could potentially purchase an abandoned palace scale structure at 250,000gp.

Finding a piece of property to purchase is a simple DC per day spent searching, based on the construction cost range you are looking for.

5,000 = DC10
15,000 = DC15
25,000 = DC20
50,000 = DC25
500,000 = DC30

Domain Rulership

In the situation where a character becomes the figurehead of authority ruling over a piece of land, the following rules are used to determine the expenses of protecting that land per day of rulership. These expenses are charged to you on top of your lifestyle expense.

Per 6-mile hex: The wages of 20 skilled laborers (soldiers &or guards) and 10 unskilled laborers. (That's 42gp per day, or 1 silver and 9 coppers per person in that land)

The player can tax his people however he likes in order to cover these costs. It is up to the DM to determine how the NPCs respond to their taxation conditions.

Additionally, the player can choose to under-staff, leaving his domain weak to potential attack. This is handled by a daily check, where the DC is equal to the number of soldiers you have. If you are fully staffed, your land will only ever be attacked on a 20. If you are understaffed, that number drops by 1 for every soldier, making your land 5% more likely to be assaulted. Over-staffing REDUCES the attack DC. When a domain is attacked, roll 1d20 on the following table, with a penalty equal to the number of soldiers you do have, including excess soldiers, to determine the type of attack:

<1 Major crime incident or civil unrest
1 Wild Animals
2 Wild Monster
3 Bandits
4 Undead
5 Goblinoids
6 Gnolls or Lizardfolk
7 Orcs
8 Barbarians or Cultists
9 Ogres, Trolls, or or Oni
10 Military Invaders
11 Elemental
12 Drow
13 Hag
14 Giant
15 Hydra, Wyvern, or Roc
16 Purple Worm, Beholder, Aboleth, or Mindflayer
17 Fiend
18 Dragon
19 Lich
20 Tarrasque

The result is that, although over-staffing your military does eliminate any chance of external forces damaging your domain, it stifles the population and increases their tax burden in order to do it, making civil attacks more frequent. The crimes occuring might be a corrput police force taking advantage of their superior numbers to abuse the people, or criminals lashing out against the police and state, while civil unrest could be riots, or even outright rebellion- possibly sparked by competing rulers from foreign domains who would like to take your land for themselves.


Landowners within another man's domain, be it a duchy, kingdom, or empire, must pay taxes in return for the protection afforded by that ruler. Taxes are usually taken monthly or yearly, but accrue to the cost of the days of protection, multiplied by domain size, divided by the local land-owning population. These rules assume the NPC domain is measured in 6-hexmile hexes and is protected by at least one keep per hex. Between soldiers and keep, that comes to 142gp per day

The population is about 5 people to a mile, or 225 people to a 6 mile hex, so that comes out to about 5 silvers and 6 coppers per day, per person. Now, obviously, only skilled laborers can afford this. As such, in well-defended lands, the vast majority of people are impoverished, living a squalid lifestyle as servant-peasants on the estates of the landed nobility and wealthy professionals, who pool their combined labor to make up the tax debt in goods and services. In lands which tax people fairly, they are often sorely underprotected, and face frequent invasions from all kinds of marauding forces.

For reference, in order for all unskilled labor to have a lifestyle above squalid, tax per person ammounts to 5 coppers per day, making for a total tax income of 11gp per day. The keep either never got built, or is an abandoned ruin, because they can't afford to run it at all. All tax money goes to the 5 soldiers on patrol. There is a 30% chance of an attack happening somewhere in the domain every single day. When an attack happens, there is a 25% chance of that attack coming from a criminal or civil unrest, while the remaining 75% of outside marauding forces include everything from wild animals, to bandits, to zombies, to goblins, to military invaders, and even wyverns. In short, the homelessness and mass servitude of the people really is for the greater good- because it is better to be homeless and alive, than wealthy and dead. The civilization described here would be a wild, dangerous, and chaotic place to live, despite the well-meaning leadership.

We can create the alignment personality of a nation through this taxation mechanic. Simply by controlling the number of soldiers hired per hex by a government based on its alignment can be used to calculate the tax burden of the people who live there, and the domain attack DC, as well as the range of what kinds of attacks may occur.

G 20 15 5
N 25 20 15
E 30 25 20

Notice that the CG aligned nations fit our wild and dangerous civilization example above.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Fifth Age

The following is an overview of the history of my personal D&D campaign setting.

The World

The people of the world have never been so unified as to name the world as a place. Although there are many material planes, the only race who acknowledge the world as a plane, (elves) simply call it "the material plane". The world is a vast, wild, unpredictable, dangerous place, hundreds of thousands of years old since its creation by the forgotten elder gods. It is an old world, having gone through many violent changes. Its surface is scarred by millennia of civilization and war. Its people live among ruins, and relics of the past can be found around every corner. The sun, once a happy and bright yellow, has dimmed since the forgotten age, now to a golden orange, painting the skies with dazzling twilights.

The Ages

The ages of the world are periods of time spanning approximately 10,000 years apiece. Since the dawn of recorded history, with the rise of the dragons, there have been 4 ages, and the world is currently in the 5th. It is currently the 3067th year of the fifth age, which means that elves who live today will indirectly remember the beginning of the age through their great grandparents' generation. With only 33 generations of elves passed, they have a detailed record of the entire history of the civilized world since their arrival in it.

The Forgotten Age: The Antediluvian Age

Before the dawn of time, and unrecorded by historians. This was the time before the gods claimed the world. The world was variously ruled by eldritch beings worshiping elder gods, aboleths, ilithids, and beholders. It ended with the rise of the pantheon as they arrived on the material plane.

The gods purged the world of these sinister far-realmers in an event known as the deluge, which is commonly described as a great flood or war. Indeed, it was a flood, during which almost the entire surface of the world was covered in water. The agents of the gods, the angels and fiends; and their weapons, the krakens; slew these aberrations and drove them from the surface, into the depths and other planes of existence.

The only ruins which survived the deluge can be found deep in the underdark or at the bottom of the oceans, where the purge did not fully reach.

The First Age: The Dragon Age

The first intelligent race upon the world were the dragons. They formed a global empire, called the Council of Wyrms, which stood for 10,000 years, setting the standard by which ages were measured. During this time, they held the few, primitive, intelligent wildlife, such as kobolds and lizardfolk, as servants. The dragon age ended with the arrival of the demihumans.

The ruins of the first age are few, but colossal. Whole mountains were hollowed out to be the lair of great council wyrms. However, their great size did not help them survive through the years, and most are little more than etched fragments among great heaps of nondescript crumbling stone. There are still some elder wyrms from this age who have survived to contemporary times.

The Second Age: The Age of Elves

The demihumans, (Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, and Gnomes) all arrived upon the world around the same time, with such proximity that it is hard to distinguish the order of their arrival. Most historians agree that the elves were likely the first, as they developed written history and civilization first, despite their very long lives, implying they were probably around for several thousand years before the dwarves and gnomes. Additionally, they are native to the Feywild, which means their arrival on the material plane would have been the result of great effort to colonize another plane on a grand scale.

At first, the demihumans were either slaves to the draconic empire, or small civlizations in out-of-the-way places not ruled by any particular dragon. (The old shires of the halflings, the deep forests of the elves, and the subterranean mountainhomes of the dwarves) Together, the demihumans were eventually able to unite against the dragons, and topple their global empire, primarily by stoking the flames of unrest between the inherently evil chromatic dragons and inherently good metallic dragons.

This was followed by 8,000 years of great prosperity and relative global peace. This was the golden age, and there was advanced technology and magic during this time. The vast majority of important ruins hail from this second age.

The Third Age. The Age of War

Then the orcs, ogres, and other goblinoids arrived. Their arrival was due to the divide which formed in the pantheon, where the gods factioned into alignments of morality and ethics. The evil and chaotic factions made a point of creating their own living kin.

They joined with the savage beastmen of the world, such as lizardfolk and gnolls, and washed over the world as a tidal wave of violence. The demihumans were able to break this tide, and after weathering the initial storm, managed to divide the "greenskins" into warring factions, much as they had done with the dragons.

The war ended with the casting of the single most destructive spell in history: the Almaghest Spellbomb. This spell reshaped most of the world's geography and buried or destroyed much of the splendor of the second age. In particular, the last standing dragon kingdom acted as the focal point of the spell. The crater that remains is today known as the thunder rift.

In the wake of that massive conflict, there were many power voids, and the demihumans themselves began to fight over newly open lands and powerful artifacts. The wars were not only between race, such as the great wars between the elves and dwarves, but also within their ranks, resulting in geographic factioning which would ultimately produce the various subracial ethnic groups.

The drow formed during this period, and claimed the underdark to be their own, driving out the insideous lifeforms which formerly dwelt there. The remainders of the aboleths, ilithids, and beholders began to return to the surface, and seeing a world unprepared for their return, took the opportunity to reassert their former glory.

The most diverse ruins can be found from the third age, showing the sudden cultural diversity of every race, and the myriad of civilizations which rose in its wake.

The Fourth Age. The Age of Decline

Of course, 10,000 years of nonstop war cannot be sustained. Eventually, as resources and manpower dwindled, deals were struck, and borders drawn. With new common enemies rising from the dark, former enemies were given reason to unite to fight back against the darkness. Over the course of this age, the demihumans, now on the defensive against dragons, aberrations, beastmen, greenskins, and the simple danger of the wilderness itself, could not hold their own.

Civilization has been steadily losing ground for thousands of years, and the living people, lacking the resources to reclaim former settlements, have been losing their history, their culture, and their technology. Famine, pestilence, and plague ravaged the people, while natural disasters rocked the countryside.

There are almost no significant ruins from the 4th age, as there was practically no expansion. What ruins were built in this time typically belong to forgotten cults, the early Yuan-Yi, the fallen Tiefling empire, and former aberration fortresses. This is the dark age of the world, ended only by a single divine spark: humanity.

The Fifth Age. The Age of Light

Seeing the sorry state of the world, the gods came together to try and stem the tide of chaos and evil. They cast into the world the first humans. Humans are the combined good qualities of all of the demihuman races who preceded them, though the meaning of the word "human" is still unknown to all. Humans are intended to be able to fit any role, and any culture. They have short lifespans, but a high reproductive rate, and can produce viable offspring with any demihuman or greenskin. The vision is for humanity to bolster the numbers of civilized people in the world, and reclaim the former glory of all the lost empires.

You have been born into this age.