Arcanearth house rules for D&D 5th Edition
See here for an online compendium of the 5e base rules: https://roll20.net/compendium/dnd5e/BookIndex
1. More granular Proficiency Bonus advancement with a higher top end (+8 instead of +6)
2. More gritty realism: slow the pace of healing; increase the effects of exhaustion.
3. Decouple Wisdom from Perception (so the Cleric is not always the best scout).
4. Provide a use for Charisma during battle and other emergency situations.
5. Introduce a more sophisticated weapon proficiency system.
6. Re-balance classes & de-nerf certain archetypes (notably, Beastmaster and Way of the Four Elements).
7. Simplify combat initiative for faster combat resolution.
8. Mesh with Fall from Heaven setting.
To compensate for some reduction in character survivability, a new ‘Luck’ attribute grants 0-3 free Advantages which are recovered upon advancing to the next level (sort of like ‘Inspiration’, but attribute-based).
Table of Contents
Proficiency bonus now starts at +1 and increases every 2nd level through 9th, after which it increases every 3rd level to a final bonus of +8 (2 higher than the base rules).
|Experience Points||Level||Proficiency Bonus|
- Characters entitled to an ‘Ability Score Improvement’ when leveling up have the option of instead gaining one additional Martial, Skill or Tool proficiency of their choice.
- Notes on NPC class levels:
In most regions, 90% of all those practicing a class are below 5th level. 7-8% are 5-8th level. The remaining 2-3% are 9th level or higher. For example, a city in Sheaim lands with a population of 5000 will have around 250 persons practicing a class. Of these, 225 will be no higher than 4th level. 18-20 will be 5-8th level. Only 6-7 will be 9th+ level. In a Sheaim city, 4-5 of these high-level characters will be sorcerers, warlocks, wizards or clerics. The remaining 2-3 are likely fighters, with maybe one being a rogue or a monk.
We do not currently use Inspiration, Feats or Multiclassing.
We will use a ‘Flanking’ rule giving a +2 to-hit bonus for melee attacks from the flank or rear (rear 120-degrees…this includes fleeing targets that did not use the ‘disengage’ action, but not opportunity attacks on targets moving past). Instead of + 2, rogues gain full advantage when attacking from the flank along with their ‘sneak attack’ bonus damage dice.
Dexterity bonus to AC applies except when 1) the defender is stunned, bound, hobbled or otherwise not able to move freely or 2) the defender is attacked with ranged spells or missiles by complete surprise (dexterity always applies to AC vs. melee attacks, even if by surprise).
The Dodge action is not available to those who are stunned, bound, hobbled or otherwise not able to move freely.
1. Two new Abilities are added to the game:
- Perception: measures intuition, observation, acuity of senses. Wisdom now represents insight, judgement and willpower.
This attribute replaces the ‘Perception’ skill. Wisdom is no longer used to spot hidden things. All Wisdom(Perception) checks now become Perception(<relevant-skill>) checks. A new ‘Scout’ skill is applicable in cases where some concealed, tiny or distant object needs to be spotted. The DC check would be expressed as ‘Perception(Scout)’. Other skills may be applicable to a Perception check, such as Perception(Investigation).
Perception is generated like other attributes: one additional 4d6 is rolled (7 total sets), dropping the lowest die from each set. And any one of the 7 results can be assigned to Perception.
Elf(high, drow): +1
Human, Dwarf(hill): +1
Passive Perception is now 10 + the creature’s Perception modifier (same as wisdom modifiers). Unless a Perception ability score has been specifically assigned, a creature’s new Perception ability equals their Wisdom.
- Luck: generated individually and separately from other attributes using 3d6 only, plus any Racial Increase (see below). Luck(gambling) is an obvious attribute(skill) combination that becomes useful.
This attribute grants one free ‘Advantage’ d20 per full 6 points of Luck score. Luck-based ‘Advantages’ are available for use by the player any time on any d20 roll (attack, spell, ability, saving throw, etc.). They can alternately be used to give an enemy (or even a friend or innocent bystander) a ‘disadvantage’ d20 on any roll. Luck could also be used to eliminate a disadvantage. Luck-based advantage d20 can be declared before or after a roll in the case of yourself, but only before a roll in the case of enemies or bystanders. Luck-based advantages are recovered only upon advancing to the next level (~3-5 sessions). Luck can be increased during level advancement as normal. Certain magic items might provide a temporary bonus or penalty to Luck. If crossing a new multiple of 6, a new luck-based ‘Advantage’ is gained (or lost if a decrease occurred).
Halfling, Forest Gnome: +2 (this is in addition to the regular ‘Lucky’ racial Trait for halflings)
Human, Rock Gnome: +1
Dwarves: -3 (dwarven history in Arcanearth is a series of misfortunes)
1. Tiefling: in Arcanearth these are known variously as Half-cambions, Infernal Children, Demonlings, Devilspawn, etc. Such beings are descendants of fiendish unions with humans, half-elves, elves, orcs or half-orcs, usually at least 4 generations removed.
Half-cambions able to travel outside Infernal, Sheaim, Calabim and Ember lands have less obvious infernal features, generally limited to skin with reddish or purplish undertones, white, black or red irises, vestigial horns or bony orbital ridges, a stunted tail 1-3 feet long, etc. Most demonlings seeking to travel the world for one reason or another, such as adventurers, have learned the art of disguise (free Disguise skill). Some go so far as to have their features surgically altered, cutting off their tails and horns, etc. This is particularly common among devilspawn who renounce or deny their heritage, or work as spies for the Infernals.
Half-cambions caught in Bannor or Mercurian lands are generally killed immediately. The Elohim, Luichirp and Malakim may withhold judgement until the nature of the infernal can be determined. The Ljosalfar are no less xenophobic toward half-cambions than they are toward other races.
2. High Elf: in Arcanearth these are known as Light Elves, Seelie Court, or ‘Ljosalfar’ in the Elven tongue (“Ljos” = light + “Alfar” = elf). They are otherwise identical to 5e High Elves and gain the same benefits and features.
3. Drow: in Arcanearth these are known as Dark Elves, Unseelie Court, or ‘Svartalfar’ in the Elven tongue (“Svart” = dark + “Alfar” = elf). They have bone or ash white skin, black hair and violet, green or black eyes. Otherwise they are similar to 5e Drow and gain the same benefits and features.
4. Wood Elves: in Arcanearth wood elves live in small semi-nomadic clans inside the same geographic regions but outside of Ljosalfar and Svartalfar society, who tend to look down upon their barbaric cousins. Wood elves range between 3’1" and 4’2" in height and have slim but sturdy builds (40-80lbs). Wood elves are size ‘Small’ and thus can ride medium sized animals such as big owls and eagles, panthers or jaguars, and big wolves. They gain +2 perception and +2 dexterity, but unlike 5e wood elves, do not gain +2 wisdom.
5. Gnome: in Arcanearth Rock Gnomes are known as ‘Open Sky Dwarves’ or Luchuirp. They share ancestry with the Khazad. Forest Gnomes are a completely different race and share ancestry with Halflings, Elves and other Fey (Faeries).
6. New race: Divine: Similar to optional 5e DMG ‘Aasimar’ race. These are generally humans, half-elves or elves who have inherited divine blood from an angelic parent, usually many generations in the past. Other than silver or gold irises, divines closely resemble their mortal ancestor. Some have the remains of mighty pinions reduced to mere bony prongs or stumps high on the shoulder blades. Divines discovered traveling Infernal, Sheaim, Calabim or Ember lands are usually imprisoned at the very least, if not killed outright. Good-aligned children of angels are favored in Mercurian, Bannor, Elohim and Malakim lands.
Ability Score Increase: Your Wisdom score increases by 1, and your Charisma score increases by 2.
Age: as mortal race.
Alignment: as with angels in Arcanearth, any alignment is possible.
Angelic Resistance: You have resistance to radiant damage.
Angelic Legacy: You know the Guidance cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Light spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest. When you reach 5th level, you can cast the Daylight spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
- Second Wind: you can regain only up to a maximum of half your current lost hit points, rounded down.
- Ki points can be regained after a long rest and any one short rest per day (not every short rest).
- ‘Way of the Four Elements’ tradition: you can use your Elemental Spells as a bonus action. This means you can take a regular action such as Attack, Dash, Dodge, etc and also use one Elemental Discipline at any time during your turn (expending ki points normally).
- Paladins are no longer restricted to Lawful Good alignment. A paladin can be any alignment, even neutral (a “Champion of the Cosmic Balance”). Paladins are fanatical champions of their specific alignment. Adjust class features and spell list as needed to reflect the paladin’s alignment. Sometimes only the name of the feature will change, other times some or all of the effects will change as well. For example, ‘Divine Sense’ for a Chaotic Neutral paladin might be renamed ‘Chaos Sense’ and detect the presence of strong chaos or law, but otherwise function similarly to the original.
- Paladins who change alignment after 3rd level fall from grace, immediately dropping one level and losing all paladin features, benefits and spells. Such a ‘Forsworn Brother’ (or Sister) reverts to the Fighter class and can choose a new fighter archetype if still at least 3rd level. If the alignment change was not intentional, the forsworn brother might be able to regain their paladin status (but not the lost level) by beseeching the gods and performing a quest, etc.
- additional ‘Oath of the Crown’ is available: https://merovia.obsidianportal.com/wiki_pages/oath-of-the-crown
- ‘Beast Master’ archetype: CR of the beast companion starts at 1/2 and doubles at 9th (CR1), 13th (CR2) and 17th level (CR4).
- You may have multiple beast companions, up to the total CR value. Any combination is possible. For example, CR1 allows a single giant eagle, or 4 wolves, or 2 wolves and 1 black bear, etc. CR4 could be 32 mastiffs, or 2 giant seahorses and 6 dolphins, or 2 giant spiders, 4 swarms of bats and 8 giant rats, etc. Only one designated beast gains the ranger’s proficiency bonus and hit point maximum. Beasts heal hit points equal to 25% of their hit point maximum per day with at least 1 long rest. They can also be healed by spells or other magic.
- During your turn, all beasts can be individually commanded to move where you want without expending your Action. Multiple beasts of different types can be commanded with a single Action (Attack, Dash, Disengage, Dodge or Help), but all acting beasts must perform the same action. If some beasts cannot perform the desired action, they perform no action on that turn other than their regular movement.
- Larger beasts can serve as mounts, such as a giant eagle, dire wolf, horse, giant spider, giant seahorse, etc. Small-size rangers could ride beasts as small as medium-size. Note that the Mounted Combat martial proficiency is required to get proficiency bonus for any attacks made while mounted.
- Gaining a new or replacement companion beast or beasts requires 1-4 weeks game-world time for each type of beast (in any number). This time must be spent in terrain where that type of beast could normally be found. Some types of beast can be found almost anywhere (wolves) while others can be found only in certain terrain or even specific locales.
Sorcerous Origins: Draconic Bloodline is not available. There are three sorcerous bloodlines found in Arcanearth.
- Blood of Kylorin: At 1st, 6th, 14th and 18th levels, gain superior control of one mana type of their choice. Spells using this mana are at +50% for all effects such as range, area, duration, number of targets affected, damage, etc. (round down, so 9d6 becomes 13d6, 3 targets become 4, etc). Spells which do no damage gain +2 spell save DC. DM determines which mana goes with which spell, as needed.
- Fiendish Bloodline: tbd, probably some fiendish powers or resistances at 1/6/14/18th level comparable to Draconic Bloodline.
- Divine Bloodline: tbd, probably some angelic/celestial powers or resistances at 1/6/14/18th level comparable to Draconic Bloodline.
Pacts: In addition to Archfey, The Great Old One and Infernal Pact, add a ‘Divine Pact’ option.
- Divine Pact: source Expanded Spells from appropriate cleric or paladin spells; Otherworldly Patron Features: tbd
Note: the alignment of the Warlock does not have to match the alignment of their patron. The angel or infernal may hope to ultimately turn the character to their own alignment and cause, or simply use them for their own purposes.
- Spell Slot Recovery: All spell slots are recovered after 1 long rest or 1 short rest per day (rather than any/all short rests per day). So a Warlock is still unique among spell-casters in being able to recover all spell slots up to twice per day.
1. Four new skills added:
- Scout: replaces the Perception skill, which is now an ability. Used in Perception(Scout) checks to spot hidden, obscured, tiny or distant objects. Also used to avoid ambush (surprise) and track creatures. Unless a Scout skill has been specifically assigned, a creature’s Scout bonus equals their ‘Perception’ bonus, if any. Available to bard, fighter, ranger, barbarian, monk and rogue classes at 1st level.
- Climbing: used in Dexterity(Climbing) checks for all sorts of climbing tasks including walls, cliffs and mountaineering. Climbing tasks are no longer part of athletics skill. Available to bard, fighter, ranger, barbarian, monk and rogue classes at first level. Climbing proficiency bonus can be doubled using the Rogue ‘Expertise’ trait. The purpose of this skill is to further differentiate Rogues from everyone else.
- Gaming: used to determine who wins at boardgames, chess, dice, cards, etc. Games that have a large element of chance, such as dice or cards, use Luck (Gaming) while entirely skill-based games such as chess use Intelligence (Gaming). These checks usually compare two or more PC/NPC rolls, rather than player vs. a DC.
- Leadership: provides a Leadership proficiency bonus to team initiative. Also used in Charisma(Leadership) checks to coordinate actions of teams that would otherwise have to roll initiative separately due to being separated on the battlefield by distance, an obstacle, etc. The DC is generally related to how far the parties are separated (ie, how far does the heroic leader’s voice carry across a canyon, through a door, etc). The purpose of this skill is to reward high Charisma and provide a game mechanic to enhance role playing of leaders. Available to bard, fighter, barbarian, paladin, ranger and cleric classes at first level.
Leadership is primarily used during times of battle or other peril to influence friendly, neutral or enemy NPCs. By contrast, Persuasion, Intimidation and most other Charisma-related skills are applicable during conditions of relative calm. Leadership will be especially important during large-scale battles where PCs might be leading hundreds or thousands of troops.
Some other examples of using the Leadership skill:
- Bolster the flagging moral of allies or henchmen who are fleeing or about to flee from battle, or otherwise out of control. DC depends on the loyalty and morale state of the NPCs but generally ranges from 10-30. DC is +1 per full 60’ distance from the NPCs.
- Try to get friendly (DC5), neutral (DC10) or questionable (DC15) NPC allies and troops to follow your orders on the field of battle. DC is +1 per full 60’ distance from the NPCs. Orders might be contested by other leaders issuing different or contradictory orders at the same time. The highest successful Charisma(Leadership) roll wins in the event of a contest. Winning ties result in the friendly or neutral troops doing nothing except defending in place (rattled troops might have to make a moral check as well…). This counts as your action for the round.
- Taunt enemies that can see or hear you ("Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!”): contest vs. highest enemy Charisma(Leadership) or Wisdom (NPC choice). This check has disadvantage if you don’t speak the same language as the taunted or they can’t both see and hear you. This counts as your action for the round. Success of this action results in initiative penalty on the next round equal to the taunter’s leadership proficiency modifier.
2. Existing Skills
Survival is replaced by the following two specialized skills: Wilderness Survival and Streetwise. Use of these skills is most often associated with the new Perception ability.
- Wilderness Survival: used in wilderness environments (on the surface or underground). Also applies to improved outdoor areas such as farmland, quarries, camps, plantations, roads, etc. Available to bard, cleric, druid, fighter, ranger and barbarian classes at first level.
- Streetwise: used in urban environments to avoid trouble with locals, find food and lodging, hirelings, services, uncommon equipment, etc. Also applicable to towns or fortresses, villages or castles, and hamlets or forts. Player choice of Perception or Charisma. Streetwise is not required. Any player ‘helping’ uses their day in search as well. Highest ability and streetwise bonus applies across primary and helper PC (team of 2).
DCs for locating a uncommon food, service, location, hireling or item (per day searching):
- Capitol or City with population 16+: DC5
- City 11-15: DC10
- City 6-10: DC15
- City 1-5, Town, Fortress: DC20
- Village, Castle: DC25 *
- Hamlet, Fort: DC30 *
* success for rare services or items in these areas typically indicates the players met a traveler from a larger settlement or city, or receive directions to such a person or item located in a nearby city.
DC increases with rarity. If a normally rare resource is more common in this region, difficulty decreases (-5). Examples:
- iron weapons and armor in an iron-poor region (including areas importing iron). This can apply to other resources as well, such as gemstones.
- seagoing vessel in a coastal city lacking a harbor or lighthouse
- mounts which are known, but rare in this area (because they are imported, such as horses in an empire without this resource).
- level 1-4 spell-caster willing to cast spells for payment or services (1st-2nd level spells): + 5. Casters of 3rd-4th level spells: + 10. 5th level: + 20. Modify by + / -5 in empires with exceptionally low or high percentage of spell casters (generally, under 10% or over 30% of classes).
- spell book materials, rare spell components (such as 1000gp+ gems) or common consumable magic: + 10. For uncommon magic or very expensive components (such as 5000gp+ gems): +15
- buyer for a magic item: +5 to +15 depending on rarity.
- sage with specific or unusual knowledge: +5.
- locating the temple of an unpopular, unknown or forbidden religion: +5 to +20.
3. Skill Use: Some tasks require a skill, while others may only require an ability, with or without a related skill bonus. Anyone ‘helping’ others who are performing a task requiring a skill must also possess that skill. Tasks requiring tool proficiency also require any helpers to have a set of the requisite tools.
1. Water consumption is half that listed in the DMG (1/2 gallon per day for small and medium sized). Amount discovered by Foraging remains the same (1d6 pounds food and 1d6 gallons water per success).
2. Foraging, avoiding natural hazards and not getting lost use Perception(Survival) in most cases. Those who are actively foraging are not eligible to employ their Scout skill at the start of unanticipated encounters.
3. Tracking now uses Perception(Scout). As such, a Ranger’s most important abilities become Perception and Strength (Wisdom is still useful for ranger spells). The most important skills for the typical Ranger are Scout and Wilderness Survival.
1. No change: Light Armor, Medium Armor, Heavy Armor, Shields
2. Existing weapon proficiencies are replaced with the following groups:
- Bludgeons, one-handed (axes, maces, hammers, staves, battleaxe wielded with one hand, etc)
- Bludgeons, two-handed (greataxe, maul, battleaxe wielded with two hands, etc)
- Blades, one-handed (includes knives, daggers, and ‘versatile’ blades wielded with one hand)
- Blades, two-handed (includes ‘versatile’ blades wielded with two hands)
- Pole-arms (spear, trident, halberd, glaive, lance, pike, etc)
- Arbalester (jncludes light and heavy crossbows, but not hand crossbows)
- Throwing (daggers, knives, darts, hand axes, javelin, etc. Can throw any melee weapon in a pinch: 3’ range per 2 points of Strength ability, disadvantage if ‘heavy’)
- Mounted Combat
- Unarmed Combat (Grappling and Unarmed Strikes: PCs are no longer automatically ‘proficient’ with unarmed strikes. All monks that want to use their open-hand fighting must take Unarmed Combat as a skill. Unarmed Combat proficiency can be applied to grappling instead of Athletics or Acrobatics, at the players option.)
- Exotic:by individual weapon type (whip, hand crossbow, net, bolo, petard, arquebus, siege engines, etc)
Applicable proficiencies can be situation-dependent. A character might be proficient with a hand axe, but unless they have ‘Thrown’ proficiency, they will not receive their level Proficiency Bonus when throwing it. To use a weapon effectively (ie, gain the proficiency bonus) while mounted requires both the related weapon proficiency and ‘Mounted Combat’. Three proficiencies might even be required in extreme situations. Examples: throwing a spear from horseback (Pole-arms + Throwing + Mounted Combat); throwing a dagger while wielding two weapons (Blades, one-handed + Dual-wielding + Throwing).
- ‘Elf Weapon Training’ trait provides free proficiency in ‘Blades, one-handed’ and ‘Archery’.
- ‘Dwarf Combat Training’ trait provides free proficiency in ‘Bludgeons, one-handed’ and ‘Shields’.
- War domain Clerics receive their heavy armor proficiency plus one additional martial proficiency of their choice.
3. Classes do not receive preordained weapon proficiencies, but select 1 or more at 1st level, based on class:
- Cleric, Druid, Bard: 3 at start and 1 additional every 4 levels (Druids can wear only non-metallic armor).
- Monk: 4 at start and 1 additional every 4 levels (wearing armor or using non-Monk weapons prevents use of many class features)
- Fighter, Barbarian, Paladin, Ranger: 6 at start and 1 additional every 3 levels.
- Rogue: 2 at start and 1 additional every 4 levels.
- Wizard, Sorcerer: 1 at start and 1 additional every 6 levels
- Warlock: 2 at start and 1 additional every 5 levels.
Any character class can wear any armor and use any weapon, but per the standard 5e rules, wearing armor without proficiency results in disadvantage on all ability checks, saving throws and attack rolls that involves Strength or Dexterity, and you can’t cast spells. Some classes and class features prevent use of certain armors or weapons (Monk, Druid, etc). Also take note of the more stringent house rules for Encumbrance, below.
Carrying weight over 3x your Strength halves speed (encumbered). Carrying weight over 6x Strength and up to 12x Strength (heavily encumbered) halves speed again (1/4 of original, round down). So a human’s walking speed drops from 30 feet to 15 feet to 7 feet per round (6 seconds). A dwarf’s speed drops from 25 feet to 12 feet to 6 feet. ‘Dash’ action is not possible when heavily encumbered. Per standard 5e rules, while heavily encumbered you have disadvantage on ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws that use Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution.
- Carrying weight over 12x Strength is possible only for short distances and with a DC:20 Strength check. Some Traits or magic may help.
- Ignore the Strength column value of Heavy Armors.
- Dwarf ‘Speed’ Trait “Your speed is not reduced by wearing Heavy Armor” translates to a -20lb reduction in effective (not actual) heavy armor weight when worn by a dwarf.
1. Weapons and Armor: normally-metallic weapons and armor are constructed of primitive materials, bronze, iron(steel), mithril-alloyed steel or adamantium. Iron is rare, especially in quantities large enough to equip field armies. Mithril-alloyed steel is very rare. Adamantium is the rarest of metals. In regions without substantial iron deposits, most weapons and armor will be bronze. Primitive materials are common among barbaric human or humanoid tribes.
- Material Properties
All normally-metallic armor and weapons have one of the following ‘material properties’
material properties do not apply to normally wooden weapons such as club or staff, or leather/padded/fur armors
for missile weapons, materials apply to the ammunition, not the weapon itself)
- Primitive (Stone, Wood, Glass or Bone): 1/4 listed price; +50% weight. Weapons do -1 damage vs. bronze, -2 vs. iron, -3 vs. mithril and -4 vs. adamantium armors. The following weapons cannot be constructed of primitive materials: greatsword, longsword, rapier, scimitar, halberd, lance, pike, sickle.
- Bronze: half listed price; +25% weight. Weapons do -1 damage vs. iron, -2 vs. mithril and -3 vs adamantium armors. The following weapons cannot be constructed of bronze: greatsword, longsword, rapier, scimitar.
- Iron: price and weight as listed. Weapons do -1 damage vs. mithril and -2 vs. adamantium armors.
- Mithril: price 10x, -50% weight.
- Adamantium: ???
2. Healer’s Kit
- Each 3lb kit provides 10 uses
- Required to regain hit points during a short rest (see Resting and Healing below): 1 use per individual healed
- Required to avoid disadvantage when healing individual wounds (see Critical Hits below): 1 use per wound healed
- Gives advantage when attempting to stabilize a creature reduced to zero hit points (see Death Saving Throw below): 1 use per creature stabilized. Creatures already having advantage get +2 on each die.
- Cantrips Known: these are now treated as ‘0 level’ spell slots, except for cantrips granted to 1) monsters and certain NPCs or by 2) racial Traits or Class/Archetype features. All the cantrips you know are always ‘prepared’. Your number of 0-level ‘spell slots’ equal the number of cantrips you know. One 0-level spell slot must be expended to cast a known cantrip. All expended 0-level ‘cantrip’ slots are recovered after any long or short rest (all classes).
- Material Components: zero-cost components need not be tracked, as they are assumed to be on the casters person in sufficient quantity at all times. These components have zero encumbrance. However, if the caster is somehow stripped of all possessions, such as when captured by knowledgeable enemies, they will not be able to cast spells requiring zero-cost components until they recover their possessions or gather new components (1-4 days game-world time). Components with a cost are always tracked individually and may incur encumbrance.
- Magic Items: the most common magical items after potions and scrolls are various ‘Wondrous Items’ imbued with a cantrip-level power. Most permanent magic items (80%) date back to the Age of Magic. These were usually created by the Elves, the Aifons (Merfolk), or the mighty magicians of the Patrian Empire. A few (15%) date back to the Age of Dragons. Most of the remainder originate from other planes of the multiverse or the Age of Angels. A very few, less than 1%, are contemporary to the current age (the Age of Rebirth). Almost all of these are wondrous items imbued with minor (cantrip) powers. Those with offensive uses have very limited ‘charges’ and typically can only be recharged by Mages (13+ level Wizards) who have made a special study of the creation of magical items.
Also see Appendix I, “Notes on Magic” at end of this document.
Who Sees Who First: Perception(Scout) ability checks may be used to determine who detects who first (this is especially useful for random encounters). DC is based on terrain modified by conditions (weather, light, vision type, movement speed). 1-2 designated ‘scouts’ make the check for each group (or those who happen to be on guard duty at the time, if stationary). If only one group succeeds, they gain the option to act immediately with surprise, hide and ambush or observe, avoid contact, or reveal themselves (see Ambushes below for resolving ambush attempts). If both groups succeed, they spot each other at roughly the same time. If both groups fail, they blunder closer before automatically spotting one another (reduce encounter distance by 50%).
DC6: open water, plains, desert sands; -2 to ambush DX (stealth) checks; Encounter distance: d20*200 (200-4000 yards)
DC12: hills, open woodland or swamp, open ruins, tundra; + 2 to ambush DX (stealth) checks; Encounter distance: d100*10 yards
DC18: dense forest or jungle, narrow canyons, high grass, close ruins; + 4 to ambush DX (stealth) checks; Encounter distance: d100 yards
Light DC modifier, Daylight: no change; Night: + 4 (reduced to + 2 by darkvision up to 60’ and reduced to + 1 by darkvision 90’+ or devilsight)
Weather DC modifier, heavy rain, sand or snow storm, thick fog: + 6; light rain, snow or mist: + 2
Movement Speed DC modifier, fast pace: + 6; slow pace: -2.
Sneaking DC modifier: + 1 to other sides DC, or add the lowest DX+Stealth bonus in the sneaking group, whichever is higher (for this reason it is often best to put the stealthiest person on point 20-100 yards ahead of the main group). Movement pace is limited to slow when sneaking, but some PCs and monsters are able to sneak at normal movement rate (such as a Ranger in their favored terrain).
Ambushes: checks to avoid ambushes compare Dexterity(Stealth) to Perception(Scout). The highest score wins the contest. PCs and important NPCs check individually, but related groups of NPC creatures are checked only once using their highest ability(skill) in the group (for speed and simplicity).
Initiative: check at the start of each new round, rather than only once at start of combat. A designated individual in each group of combatants makes a Dexterity(Leadership) check (d20 + DX bonus + any leadership skill proficiency bonus). The highest score wins. In most cases, there are only two groups: the PCs and their foes. The ‘Leadership’ skill proficiency bonus does not have to come from the PC making the Dexterity roll, it could come from another individual with the highest Leadership in the group (who is nearby and not silenced, immobile, stunned, prone or otherwise disabled).
The winning side acts first, in any order they like. The losing side acts second, in any order they like. If there are more than two groups in a side, they act in the order of Dex check score, highest to lowest.
Spell and other effects which last until your ‘next turn’ might end before the enemy acts, if the caster loses initiative in one round and wins in the next. The spell or other effect would however be effective vs. reaction attacks launched by the enemy during this time. Example: Shield spell.
If multiple groups of PCs, their allies, or foes become separated on the field of battle by distance or on opposites sides of a barrier such as a closed door, each group checks initiative separately as above. The new ‘Leadership’ skill can be used during combat to coordinate the initiative of multiple allied groups into a single initiative roll. Use Charisma(Leadership) with DC dependent on how far the parties are separated, ambient noise and other distractions, intervening obstacles or darkness, etc. Using Leadership in this way counts as an ‘action’.
Barbarian ‘Feral Instinct’ (7th level trait): check initiative separately from the rest of group (using 2d20, taking best result). The barbarian using Feral Instinct to get advantage on initiative does not benefit from leadership skill (theirs or anyone else) and uses their own dexterity modifier. This means a barbarian could take their turn before other friendly and enemy groups on any given round. Use this scheme to handle advantage or disadvantage to initiative given to specific individuals by magic: the enhanced individual forms a new ‘group’ and rolls initiative separately.
Attacking Spell-casters: the ‘Ready’ action can be used to watch for enemies attempting to cast spells later in the round (or in the next round, depending on which side wins initiative). When the trigger event occurs, the Ready character can use their reaction to attack the spell caster. The caster must make a standard Constitution / concentration save for each time they are hit. The DC equals 10 or the damage taken, whichever number is higher. If failed, the spell has no effect, the spell slot is lost, and the caster’s action is used as well.
Interacting with Objects Around You: use common sense here. No one can get a potion or anything else out of a backpack while attacking, spellcasting or dashing. Doing so would count as your action. Feeding a potion to someone else uses your action.
- Initially readying a weapon (or two weapons if dual-wielding) can be done in combination with the Attack action. Changing from 1-2 weapon to another 1-2 weapons counts as your action. The exceptions are: 1) ‘Light’ weapons, or 2) if you are willing to simply drop your current weapon. Switching from 1 or 2 readied weapons to a ‘two-handed’ missile-firing weapon like a gun, bow or heavy crossbow always requires a full action.
- Handing something to another character, drinking a potion or manipulating a simple object doesn’t require an action, but you must have a hand free (can’t be casting a somatic spell, or wielding two weapons, a weapon 2-handed, or a shield+weapon). Any time you try and perform the above AND use your action to attack or cast a spell, you must make a DC:10 Dexterity(Acrobatics) check or fail (50/50 chance of dropping the item / fumbling the weapon or spell).
- Readying and reading a spell from a book or scroll uses your action (you will need to drop any readied weapon(s) to accomplish all this in the same round).
- Trying to catch an item tossed to you by a comrade during combat requires a DC:10 Dexterity(Acrobatics) check (receiving an item from a comrade right next to you requires no ability check).
- If you are being meleed (not ranged attack), a DC:10 Dexterity(Acrobatics) check is needed to successfully retrieved a dropped weapon or object. If you are picking up a dropped weapon while dodging or otherwise engaged in melee, you can’t also attack with the retrieved weapon (you could attack with a weapon you already have wielded in another hand).
Optional/experimental: this is a simplified version of the system we used in GW2754. We’ll try it out.
- In addition to the extra die of damage upon scoring a critical hit (20 on d20 for most classes), body parts may be injured leading to varying degrees of incapacity.
|d10||Location||Result||Effects Until Healed|
|1||Head||Wisdom check or stunned until end of next turn|
|2-5||Body||Constitution check or prone|
|6-7||Arms||Dexterity check or drop held item or weapon||Disadvantage on arm-based attacks and Dex checks/saves based on manual dexterity, no shield use, no somatic spell-casting|
|8-10||Legs||Strength check or prone||Dash and Dodge actions unavailable, disadvantage on mobility-based Dex checks/saves|
Adapt as needed for creatures with different physiology. Arms become wings, tentacles, additional legs, etc. A purple worm, for example, has only head and body locations. Creatures without heads may still have equivalent sensory apparatus and brains (or not). Hit locations and related effects are meaningless for incorporeal or amorphous creatures like ghosts, elementals, puddings, slimes, etc.
All Ability checks are DC10+ any ability bonus. No skill proficiency bonuses are used for these checks.
One wound is healed per long rest and a successful Wisdom(Healer) DC:10 check (disadvantage without a healer’s kit) or per 10 points of magical healing. All wounds are healed upon reaching full hit points.
As in base 5e rules, rolling a 1 on any save, attack or ability check is an automatic fail (no matter what your bonuses). Use the following table for additional hilarity (courtesy of Leelo/Keelo):
- Melee 1-10
- Hit Yourself
- Hit an ally (if no ally within range, hit yourself)
- Break your weapon
- Throw your weapon far away
- Drop your weapon on your foot
- Drop your weapon
- Fall down
- Wardrobe malfunction (DM discretion)
- Drop a random piece of gear
- No detrimental consequence
- Spell Casting 1-10
- Rip the magical fabric of the universe ((random effect occurs (DM discretion))
- Spell affects unintended target random
- Cast wrong spell by accident (pick randomly)
- Inexplicably trigger a random spell effect on a random target (level appropriate)
- poke yourself in the eye (blinded in one eye for remainder of combat)
- spill all your spell components on the ground (or drop your spell focus item)
- Trip and fall
- Wardrobe malfunction
- Drop a random piece of gear
- No detrimental consequences
A ‘Short Rest’ allows recovery of 1 hit point per level plus constitution bonus, once per day. So a 3rd level fighter with 18 constitution could regain 3+4 or 7 hit point in this way. Only 1 Short Rest per day can restore hit points. One use of a healer’s kit is required per individual healed. Additional short rests are possible during the day, but these will not restore hit points.
A ‘Long Rest’ allows recovery of 1 hit point per level plus constitution bonus at the end of the Long Rest. A healer’s kit is not required. Only half (round up) the normal hit points are regained if you did not doff your armor (this takes significant time, as does donning your armor).
So in a given 24 hour period of adventuring, you could regain up to 2 hit points per level plus 2x constitution bonus by taking both a short rest and a long rest. For example, a 10th level fighter with 18 constitution can regain 28hp per day in this way.
Resting for a full day (at least 20 hours not doing anything strenuous) allows recovery of 3 hit points per level plus 3x constitution bonus. Example: a 5th level fighter with 16 constitution can regain 15+9 or 24 hit points per day of full rest.
See here for a related discussion of 5e resting and healing: http://spectrumclassics.com/2015/02/10/rest-and-recovery-in-5e/
Only ONE death saving throw is allowed, on your next turn after you were brought to 0 hit points. A Luck-based ‘advantage’ can be used on the roll. Failure indicates death. Success means you become stable (see 5e stabilization rules). A Healer’s Kit gives advantage when attempting to stabilize someone with zero hit points (DC10:Wisdom(Healer)).
Damage at 0 Hit Points: If wounded again after you are at 0 hit points and prior to the end of the next round, you suffer -4 on the death save (for both dice, if using advantage).
Characters recovering from zero hit points are invalids requiring 2 weeks rest (@20 hours/day), minus their constitution bonus in days. This is true even if magical healing is applied (certain powerful spells such as ‘heal’ may get around this). If forced to fight, move or perform other work during this period, the invalid has disadvantage on everything and moves at half rate.
Exhaustion reduces all ability scores by 1 down to a minimum of 1, with related debilitating effects (you lose your bonuses, then get penalties). When Constitution reaches 1, you become an invalid (death follows a number of days later equal to your constitution).
Exhaustion reduces abilities at the end of a day when any of the following are true:
- day without sleep (at least 1 eight-hour ‘long rest’): 2 points *If armor was not doffed for at least 1 long rest in the day, you will gain 1 exhaustion.
- day without water: 1 point
- day without food: .5 point
- day forced march (travel more than 12 hours): 1 point
- day exposure to extreme temperatures, rain or snow without adequate gear: 1 point
- Extreme weather events such as blizzards, storms, gales, volcanic eruption, tsunami, earthquake, etc.: 1-3 points
Example: someone with 10 Constitution can continue for about 3 days without sleep, food and water, 6 days without food and water, 9 days without water (but eats food containing water), 18 days without food, etc.
Exhaustion is recovered at the rate of 6 points for each day when all requirements are met (food, water and 1 ‘long rest’ per day) and no forced-march occurs.
Appendix I – Notes on Magic
Wizards regain ALL spells slots after a long rest (this is true of all spell-casters). Wizards ALSO can regain a few spell slots once per day after finishing a short rest (1 hour): The Spell Slots can have a combined level that is equal to or less than half your wizard level (rounded up), and none of the slots can be 6th level or higher. For example, if you’re a 4th-level wizard, you can recover up to two levels worth of Spell Slots. You can recover either a 2nd-level spell slot or two 1st-level Spell Slots. See pages 114-115 of guide.
Sorcerers also regain ALL spell slots after a long rest. Unlike Wizards, Sorcerers can’t recover any spell slots after a short rest, BUT they get ‘Sorcery Points’ that can be exchanged for various effects such as regaining a spell slot on the fly (Sorcery Points are recovered after a long rest). See page 101 of guide.
Warlocks have many fewer spell slots than Wizards or Sorcerers, BUT they are the only class that can regain all their slots after any single short rest in the day. In Arcanearth house rules, I reduced this to a single short rest per day (cantrips can be recovered after ANY short rest). So the Warlock can regain all their 1+ level spell slots up to twice per day, and all cantrip slots multiple times per day. Warlock’s depend on their weapons, armor, Pact Boons and Eldritch Invocations.
Ritual Casting doesn’t expend the spell slot, but it takes +10 minutes casting time so you usually can’t do it in combat, and it only is available for certain spells.
Cantrips: In Arcanearth house rules, the only at-will cantrips are those you get from race or some archetype features. All the cantrips a sorcerer/wizard/warlock knows are fixed in their mind and always prepared, but require at least a short rest to recover all expended ‘0-level’ slots (your 0-level slots are always equal to the number of cantrips you know). Basically, you can recover all your cantrip slots if you have at least 1 hour to rest between each fight or other encounter.
Schools of Magic: A wizard’s ‘school of magic’ doesn’t prevent you from learning spells in other schools, it just reduces cost and time by half to transcribe the spells of your school into your spell-book. Your school of magic is always beneficial, it never penalizes you with regard to spells not in your school.