Arcanearth house rules for D&D 5th Edition
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|
- This proficiency-by-level system is replaced by ‘advancement points’ if using the optional Skill system detailed later.
- Notes on arcanearth 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. Note: most amorphous or incorporeal creatures do not have a ‘flank’, such as jellies/puddings/slimes, elementals, shadows, ghosts, etc.
The Dodge action is not available to those who are stunned, bound, hobbled or otherwise unable to move freely.
Weapon Reach: in VTT, attack ‘reach’ is always measured from the center of medium-or-smaller-size circular-format tokens to the nearest edge of the enemy token or image. For large-size or larger tokens or images, reach is measured from the nearest edge of the token or image to the nearest edge of the enemy token or image. For giant-size-or-larger top-down images (not circular tokens), attacks from specific body parts (tail, bite, etc) are measured from the nearest edge of that body part.
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)
Dark vision: no playable races have dark vision except goblins (20’ range)
1. New race: Rogue Modron
Modrons are partially mechanical beings created by Oghma, the god of knowledge, for the purpose of exploration, research and acquisition of knowledge. They are organized in a hierarchy starting with the lowly monodrone, designed to deliver messages, explore new areas, and perform maintenance. A monodrone unit sometimes becomes defective, either through natural decay or exposure to chaotic forces. Rogue monodrons don’t act in accordance with Oghma’s wishes and directives, breaking laws, disobeying orders, and even engaging in violence. Other modrons can instantly identify such rogues and hunt them relentlessly.
Ability Score Decrease/Increase: Your Intelligence and Strength scores decrease by 2 and two other ability scores of your choice increase by 1.
Age: Modrons are immortal so long as they remain on the plane of Mechanus. The mechanical clockwork that runs a Modron takes roughly 100 years to decay when outside the plane of Mechanus, but can be increased with advanced maintenance.
Alignment: A rogue modron is by nature a rebel and ‘defective’ by Mechanus standards. It can have any alignment other than lawful neutral.
Size: Your size is Small (3’ tall, 60 pounds).
Speed: Your base walking speed is 25 feet.
Limited Flight: You have small rotors providing a flying speed of 20 feet for up to 1 hour per day. Maximum altitude of 20 feet above ground level. The flight is noisy and imposes disadvantage on any stealth checks. Modrons can fly much faster and farther in Oghma’s vault of Mechanus.
Constructed Nature: You are a mechanical construct with a soul. You are immune to diseases. You have a natural base AC of 15 (bonuses and shields are cumulative, but additional armor is not). You can be stunned, but not by a monk’s manipulation of Ki-energy. You cannot be healed by normal rest, healing spells or magic items. Instead, you are healed only by the mending cantrip cast at 1st or higher level ((1 point + CON bonus) * spell slot level). You do not need to eat, drink or breathe, but you can ingest food and drink if you wish. Instead of sleeping, you must enter an inactive state for 4 hours each day. You do not dream in this state; you are partially aware of your surroundings while inactive (disadvantage on perception checks, half normal passive perception).
Mechanical Legacy: You can cast the mending cantrip once per day as a 1st level spell. You have expertise in ‘Tinker Tools’ and possess the related tools integral to your being.
Focused Mind: You cannot be charmed.
Macroid Eye: You have Truesight to a range of five feet (right next to you).
Languages: You can speak and read Modron (a mechanical language of clicks/bleeps/boops). You can speak, read and write approximately 300 words of the Common tongue (disadvantage on charisma ability checks and related skills). At 5th level you learn Common sufficiently well to remove this disadvantage.
2. 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.
3. High Elf: in Arcanearth these are known as Light Elves (Ljosalfar), Seelie or Summer Court elves. They are otherwise identical to 5e High Elves and gain the same benefits and features.
4. Drow: in Arcanearth these are known as Dark Elves (Svartalfar), Unseelie or Winter Court elves. 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.
5. 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.
6. Gnome: in Arcanearth Rock Gnomes are known as ‘Open Sky Dwarves’ or Luchuirp. They share ancestry with the Khazad dwarves. Forest Gnomes are a completely different race related to Halflings, Elves and other Fey beings created by Sucellus and Cernunnos.
7. 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 mortal stock. 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.
- Two-Weapon Fighting Style: allows the Fighter to add ability bonus to the off-hand attack damage (no change from standard rules). A fighter can also take the dual-wielding Martial Proficiency to be able to use a single-handed non-light weapon in the primary hand, as described in section 8 below. (secondary weapon must still be light)
- 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).
- Stunning Strike: My interpretation of Ki is based on PHB p76: “This energy is an element of the magic that suffuses the multiverse – specifically, the element that flows through living bodies” and “…some of their special attacks can hinder the flow of Ki in their opponents”. So my interpretation is that 1. you need a body and 2. you need to be living in order to have a Ki that can be hindered by a monk’s special attacks.
So, Stunning strike won’t affect incorporeal or non-living creatures. These amount to Constructs like golems and animated objects, certain creatures having or assuming a gaseous or mist form, ethereal creatures or creatures projected into the astral plane (rather than being there physically), and creatures having ‘incorporeal movement’ like ghosts, wraiths, spectres, will-o-wisps, etc.
Most everything else is ‘living’ and has a body with Ki, including fiends, elementals, puddings, etc. Undead are ‘alive’ in that they have a kind of unlife force, so these are vulnerable to monk stunning strike (though I think a DM would be justified in ruling undead aren’t alive so don’t have Ki). But if you encounter something that is an animated object like a golem or a walking table, or is misty/incorporeal, you probably can’t affect it with Stunning Strike.
If a monk or anyone else punches something that inflicts any type of touch or contact damage, you will suffer that damage each and every time you hit. For example, punching a fire elemental would inflict burn damage, a black pudding acid damage (only), touching a wraith would cause a save vs. Life Drain, a ghoul would cause a save vs. paralyzing touch, etc. For non-monks, this could be reduced or eliminated by wearing armored or magic gauntlets, but monks must fight with bare hands. The existence of such enemies is a great reason for monks to carry at least one backup monk-weapon.
- 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, god and/or cause. 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 (the rider must be one size smaller than the mount). 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 locations.
Sorcerous Origins: there are three additional sorcerous bloodlines found in arcanearth.
- Blood of Kylorin: At 1st, 6th, 14th and 18th levels, gain superior control of one mana type of your 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. This is a very powerful bloodline. To keep it balanced, the sorcerer will be at -50% effectiveness (or -2 spell save DC) when casting spells from mana types in the mana-branch opposite them (on the other side of ‘metamagic’ which is in the center). See the mana ‘tree’ diagram. For example, a Fire-mana sorcerer would be at a severe disadvantage casting spells related to Shadow or Water. For this reason Sorcerers will avoid picking mana types that are in diametrically opposed ‘branches’ as this would cancel at the benefit of both mana types. Metamagic is the only exception as it is located in the center of the mana-tree. Metamagic is magic ‘about magic’. The classic example of a metamagic spell is ‘dispel magic’. For this reason many Sorcerers will eventually pick metamagic mana type since there is no downside.
- 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.
1. New Skill System (WIP)
Characters gain 2 ‘advancement points’ each level after the first. Each ‘advancement point’ assigned to a martial, skill or tool proficiency advances that proficiency by one ‘rank’. Points can be saved up across levels and spent any time a new level is gained, or even between levels if some in-game event justifies it (such as learning how to sail ‘on the job’, finding a new magic weapon, etc). This system replaces the standard ‘Proficiency Bonus’.
Each Martial, Skill or Tool proficiency is ranked as follows:
- Initial 1st level martial, skill and tool proficiency starts at the ‘Novice’ rank. Initial skills at 1st level are assigned per standard PHB rules (class, background, etc).
- New skills gained after 1st level also start at Novice rank (costing 1 advancement point), but additional points can be spent to immediately increase skill rank (up to the max rank for your level).
- Remember that martial proficiency is now divided up into more groups than just ‘martial’, ‘simple’, ‘shields’, etc. So a fighter type will need to spend more points to advance in multiple types of weapons.
- when 2 or more martial skills are required, use the bonus from the lowest ranked skill. For example, throwing a spear from horseback uses the lowest rank of pole arms, mounted combat or throwing.
2. New Skills
- Scout (PE): 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.
- Climbing (DX or ST, player choice): 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. 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 (IN): 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 (CH): 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.
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.
- Alchemy (IN or WS, player choice): required for divine and arcane casters to create potions (‘herbalism’ is still used to create various healing and curative potions). Alternately, the services of an alchemist can be obtained in a limited number of cities (at great expense).
- Sailing (PE or WS, player choice): crew and operate ships (anything above canoes/rowboats). This includes navigation when on such a vessel. A minimum number of ‘sailors’ are required to get the most out of a ship (speed, maneuvers, surviving adverse events like storms or collisions), depending on the ship type and size. This skill could be applicable to other types of ships, such as airships or astral spell-jammers.
- Tinker Tools (IN or DX, player choice): mastery of the tools needed to create and repair complex items such as clocks, spyglasses, sextants, automatons, etc. The ‘Mend’ spell can give advantage on the check, but by itself cannot repair complex items which may be non-functional for a variety of reasons beyond simple material breaks, such as parts missing, deformed, corroded or assembled incorrectly.
3. Changes to 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 (PE or WS, situation dependent): used in wilderness environments (on the surface or underground). Also applies to improved outdoor areas such as farmland, quarries, camps, plantations, roads, etc.
- Streetwise (PE or CH, player choice): 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 proficiency is 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.
- Arbalest: includes 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’.
- Dual-wielding: allows use of a non-light one-handed weapon in the primary hand (a light weapon is still required for the off-hand bonus attack and only fighters with ‘Two-Weapon Fighting’ Style get to apply their Ability bonus to damage inflicted by the off-hand bonus-action attack).
- 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, ballista, siege engines, etc
Applicable proficiency 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 proficiency, but select 1 or more at 1st level, based on class:
- Cleric, Druid, Bard: 3 at start (Druids can wear only non-metallic armor).
- Monk: 4 at start (wearing armor or using non-Monk weapons prevents use of many class features)
- Fighter, Barbarian, Paladin, Ranger: 6 at start
- Rogue: 2 at start
- Wizard, Sorcerer: 1 at start
- Warlock: 2 at start
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.
- Using a magic item, such as drinking a potion or reading a spell from a book or scroll uses your action.
- 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.
Rolling a 1 on any attack roll could result in a mishap of some sort, even if the attack still hits due to bonuses. Use the following table for additional hilarity (courtesy of Leelo/Keelo):
- Melee 1-10
- Hit Yourself automatically for normal damage
- Hit an ally: make another roll to-hit against random ally within reach/range (if no ally within range, hit yourself automatically for normal damage)
- Break your weapon
- Throw your weapon far away: 3d6*3 feet in a random direction
- Drop your weapon on your foot: can’t dash or dodge this and all of next round
- Drop or fling your weapon 1d6*3 feet away in random direction
- Fall prone
- Wardrobe malfunction: can’t dash, dodge or use Attack action remainder of this and all of next round.
- Drop or fling a random piece of important gear 1d6*3 feet in random direction, such as a magic item, shield or unequipped weapon
- Uncontrollable rage: continue attacking nearest random friend or enemy with deadliest melee weapon until all within 60’ are dead or incapacitated, or you are dead or incapacitated. Gain a +2 to-hit and damage bonus on all attack rolls for the duration.
- Spell Casting 1-10
- Rip the magical fabric of the universe: random effect occurs, character temporarily disappears, new creature appears, etc (DM discretion)
- Spell affects a different unintended random target (friend or foe, including yourself if you weren’t the original target)
- Cast wrong spell by accident (pick randomly)
- Inexplicably trigger a random spell effect on a random target (level appropriate)
- Poke yourself in the eye and blinded for this and next round (somatic spells) or go mute for this and all of next round (vocal-only spells)
- Spill all your spell components all over the ground (1 full action next round to collect) or fling your spell focus object 1d6*3 feet away in a random direction.
- Trip and fall prone; spell has opposite effect (healing harms, fire becomes ice, etc).
- Wardrobe malfunction: can’t dash, dodge or cast spells remainder of this and all of next round.
- Drop or fling a random piece of important gear 1d6*3 feet away in a random direction, such as a magic item or your spell book.
- Gain 2 extra ‘corruption’ points (3 total)
Only 1 Long Rest is allowed per 24 hour period (it is possible to rest the entire day however, see below).
Up to 2 Short Rests are allowed per 24 hour period.
‘Hit Dice’ for healing are not used. A ‘Long Rest’ allows recovery of 1 hit point per level plus constitution bonus at the end of the Long Rest. For example, a 10th level character with 18 constitution can regain 14 hit points per long rest…
Resting for a full day allows recovery of 2 hit points per level plus 2x constitution bonus. Example: a 10th level character with 18 constitution can regain 28 hit points per day of full rest. A full day of rest requires 24 hours of not doing anything strenuous such as fighting, exploring, traveling or spell-casting (for example, this prevents a cleric from both resting the full day and casting healing spells during that period). Non-strenuous ability checks and tool use such as reading, research, calligraphy or inscribing spells is OK.
Only ONE death saving throw is allowed, at the end of your next turn after the turn when you were brought to 0 hit points. A SINGLE Luck-based ‘advantage’ or inspiration die can be used by the dying character to re-roll the death save before of after seeing the death save roll result. Success means you become stable (see 5e stabilization rules).
Damage at 0 Hit Points: each time you are wounded again after falling to 0 hit points, you must make another DC:10 death save. As above, a luck-based or inspiration die can be used by the dying character to re-roll the death save before of after seeing the death save roll result. Track negative hit points incurred by hits after falling to 0 hit points: if brought to negative hit points greater than your maximum positive hit points, you are killed outright with no death save allowed.
Per standard 5e, being ‘stabilized’ means you are still at zero hit points and unconscious for 1d4 hours, but no longer must make death saving throws (unless you are hit again, in which case the process starts anew). Healing to at least 1 hit point is required to become conscious. A Healer’s Kit gives advantage when attempting to stabilize someone with zero hit points (DC10:Wisdom(Healer)). A nat20 on a death save or stabilization check raises you to 1 hit point and you become conscious (but you gain the WOUNDED condition, see below for details).
- New Condition: WOUNDED
Characters brought to zero hit points but not killed gain the WOUNDED condition. Creatures affected by the WOUNDED condition have disadvantage on Attack Rolls, Ability Checks and Saving Throw and cannot take the dash or dodge actions.
Removing the WOUNDED condition requires two weeks uninterrupted rest, minus the PC’s constitution bonus in days. This rest time is required even if magical healing is used to restore all lost hit points. The spells ‘heal’ and ‘wish’ can also remove the WOUNDED condition. A full day of rest requires 24 hours of not doing anything strenuous such as fighting, exploring, traveling or spell-casting (for example, this prevents a cleric from both resting the full day and casting healing spells during that period). Non-strenuous ability checks and tool use such as reading, research, calligraphy or inscribing spells is OK.
1/21/2019 update: Use the standard 5e Exhaustion mechanic.
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.
Wizard Spell Books
Creating a new or backup spell book costs 100gp in materials for the first 10 levels of spells copied into the new book (1000gp total). After that, cost to transcribe spells into the ‘backup’ book is as normal. These Spells cannot be read, copied or cast directly from ‘backup’ spell books, as is possible with scrolls or the original ‘primary’ spellbook. Wizards can create any number of ‘backup’ spell books. If the original spellbook is lost, one existing backup can be designated as the wizards new ‘primary’ spellbook.
Spells traded to another wizard disappear from your book or scroll and appear in the recipients book (and vice-versa). Spell trading typically requires you to be a member of the same ‘mage guild’. Monetary inducement of 100gp per spell level is also the norm, though there are exceptions.
Magical books such as spellbooks and scrolls (all types) cannot be easily destroyed by normal means such as non-magical fire, immersion in water, freezing, bludgeoning, piercing and slashing. Most AOE attacks from creatures such as dragons, winterwolves, etc are considered ‘magical’. Magical books and scrolls get a save vs. magical damage if they are not carried by the caster, stored in a chest, or otherwise lying unprotected within the area of effect (fireball, etc). The save is vs. the Spell Save DC of the caster and is usually made with at least a + 5 bonus. If known, use the spellbook/scroll owner/creator’s Spell Attack Bonus as the save bonus. Magical books or scrolls carried by someone failing their save vs. a damaging area of effect spell, such as fireball, result in the books/scrolls having to make a save with advantage or be damaged or destroyed. Spell scrolls and spellbooks lose 1d8 random spells. Other magic scrolls and books are simply destroyed.
Sorcerers regain ALL spell slots after a long rest. Unlike Wizards or Warlocks, 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 PHB.
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 (up to 3 short rests are possible per day).
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.
Creating Magic Items
- Minimum spell-caster level needed to create types of magical items:
13th: all other magic items
We’re going to start using the standard 5e attunement rules as of session 38, which limit number of ‘attuned’ magic items to 3 at a time. Not all magic items require attunement. Basic +? items without any special features or powers or expendable items like potions and scrolls don’t require attunement.
It takes 1 short rest to ‘attune’ to a magic item, and 1 short rest to ‘de-tune’ an item to trade it or make room for another item. So switching out one attuned magic item for another requires 2 short rests. As previously mentioned, only two short rests can be taken per day. A long rest also counts as a short rest for purposes of attune/detune. You can have one long rest per day. So keeping track of which items you are attuned to at any given time will become important once you have multiple magic items (> 3) or want to trade items on short notice. Attunement prevents instant transfer of items between characters, since both ‘de-tunement’ and attunement rest periods are needed.
See the Arcane Magic wiki.
As we’ve previously handled up to this point, one of the standard/tiny familiars cannot use the Help action…but it could count as an ally to grant a rogue sneak attack benefit by slightly distracting one enemy. The rogue wouldn’t get advantage in this case. A more significant familiar like a psuedodragon, homunculus or Imp could use the Help action and give you advantage.
- Special Familiars
Getting one of these requires special effort above and beyond the 10 minute ritual.
- Homunculus: must be created in a magical vat using your own blood, various rare & expensive ingredients, and a lot of gold (need to research and get help from an alchemist such as Grenl). Cost: 5k gold and 2 months downtime (2.5k/1 month after the first time).
- Psuedodragon: must be found and befriended, typically in sylvan woodlands (Lyosalfar/Svartalfar lands for the most part). Cost: typically double that of the Homonculous in gold/time, but the nature of the effort is different (build an elaborate shrine/home designed to attract a pseudodragon, consult sages and naturalists, sacrifice at Fellowship temples, search the most remote sylvan woods, etc).
- Imp: requires striking a deal with a greater demon or devil – always a hazardous undertaking. Cost: typically double that of the Homonculous in gold/time, but the nature of the effort is different (summon and bind or negotiate with a greater fiend, forge a binding pact, donate treasure to the fiend, probably blood-sacrifices and other nasty stuff as well…)
Unlike the standard familiars summoned by the typical 10 minute ritual, these more significant familiars can use the ‘Help’ action. Tiny/standard familiars can use their action to distract an enemy to allow a rogue sneak attack or give advantage to someone attempting to sneak past, but they can’t use the Help action.
The cosmology of Arcanearth differs from standard D&D great-wheel in a number of ways, but many of the concepts will be familiar or even identical to current or past D&D editions. ‘Creation’ consists of the following planes:
- The Outer Planes consist of the ‘vaults’ created by the 21 Angels of Creation (‘gods’ in Age-of-Rebirth parlance) before their power to create was revoked by the One God. These include the Seven Hells (vaults of the Seven evil gods).
- The Inner Planes consist of the material realm (Arcanearth and other worlds) and the elemental planes of air, earth, fire, water, life and death created on the sly by Agares. The vaults of Life and Death correspond roughly to the positive and negative materials planes of classic D&D.
- The Spirit Realm: the classic astral and ethereal planes are simplified into one concept variously referred to as spirit-realm, aether, ethereal or astral. This plane functions as the ‘glue’ that holds the outer and inner planes together and allows for travel between them. In most cases the spirit-realm functions similar to the classic D&D ‘ethereal’ plane.
- Pocket Dimensions or ‘Bairs’: powerful arcane or divine beings have created numerous pocket dimensions ranging in size from tiny (‘rope trick’ spell, bag of holding, etc) to huge (the Bair of Lacuna created by Ceridwen to succor Os-Gabella, or the Shadowed Vale created by Esus for the Dark Elves during the Age of Ice).
Heaven: above and outside these planes looms the One True Heaven, severed ages ago from the rest of Creation by the One God in response to the rebellion of Agares.
- Entering, Leaving and Transiting the Spirit Realm
There are two components to the spirit-realm, the ‘deep’ and ‘border’ aether.
Deep Spirit-Realm: when in the deep spirit-realm, one can travel distances that equate 1:1 with distance on the inner planes. You cannot perceive or interact with anything in the inner planes, nor can you be perceived or affected by those inhabiting inner planes. Using 1 Action you can transit to either the Border Ethereal adjacent to any inner plane or directly into any inner plane. You must know of this location on the destination inner plane, personally or by first-hand detailed description. Transiting directly from the deep aether into an inner plane and ending up in a desired location requires a successful DC20 IN or WS check. Each point of failure increases the distance you missed the target by a certain increment (10 feet for your home plane, 10 yards for other planes). Apply disadvantage if you haven’t personally been to this location before.
Border Spirit-Realm: when in the border spirit-realm, one can travel similar to the deep aether, however movement is somewhat constrained by the presence of material creatures and objects within the adjacent inner plane. You can pass through inner-plane objects and creatures while in the border aether, but if you end your turn in the same space as a solid object or creature on the adjacent inner plane, you suffer 1d10 force damage (per round). This is also how the ‘Incorporeal Movement’ trait functions. You can use 1 Action to travel from deep to border aether of any known plane, or from the border to deep aether, or into the adjacent inner plane. When in the border aether, objects and creatures in the adjacent inner plane appear as misty, insubstantial monochromatic shapes. While in the border aether, you are permanently ‘invisible’ and incorporeal to those in the adjacent inner plane and deep aether. Creatures on the inner plane might still perceive you as a ghostly, incorporeal form (disadvantage on the perception check). Certain common tricks used to reveal invisible but physical beings are ineffective in this case, such as throwing talc or flour into the air, since you are also incorporeal while in the border aether. You cannot affect creatures and objects in the adjacent inner plane, only those in the same border aether as you. There are exceptions such as a night hag’s nightmare ability, though in these cases I typically allow beings on the inner plane to affect or attack that creature in the border aether, at least until they retreat to the deep aether. Usually magic or silver weapons, or spells, are required to affect such a creature.
Fiends and Celestials
All celestials, demons and devils (fiends) are originally ‘angels’ created by one of the 21 Angels of Creation or by one of their Archangels. Fiend, demon and devil are common terms for angels who have fallen from heaven (tainted by the rebellion of Agares), though this distinction is rarely understood outside the circles of sages, theologians and other pedants. Those still referred to as ‘angels’ have not yet been corrupted by the whispers of Agares.
The various types of fiends and angels constitute a common population, differentiated only by alignment, which typically but not always is derived from their creator or current master (an Angel of Creation or one of their Archangels). Terms such as demon, daemon and devil simply refer to classes of fallen angels having a common alignment, master or creator. ‘Celestial’ refers to the various types of non-fallen angels. Angels joining Basium’s rebellion or otherwise intervening in creation are sometimes said to be ‘falling’, as in having departed the estate of heaven but not yet completely corrupted (‘fallen’).
Since the true power of creation was revoked by The One, new souls cannot be created except through the established process of birth in mortal stock (souls can however be destroyed). Therefore all new angels and fiends are created using existing souls who have passed on after death. These souls start out in a rank of angel or fiend consonant with their power in life.
This system is intended for use with the New Skill System and Critical Misses optional rules.
1. All spells now require a d20 ‘spell check’ roll when cast. If this is a spell that already requires a d20 roll(s), that roll counts as a ‘spell check’ in addition to its other purposes (such as a to-hit roll). Use the casters primary attribute bonus plus skill proficiency bonus if available. Arcane spells use Arcana skill. Divine spells use Religion skill. Regardless of spell check bonus, a result of 20 is always a critical success and a result of 1 is always a critical failure.
- Spell Check DC: 11+ spell level. Success indicates the spell functions normally. Failure indicates the spell slot is expended and the spell does not function (is lost). For spells with to-hit rolls vs. AC, success or failure has the normal effect (target is hit or missed, in either case the spell slot is lost).
- Critical Success: a roll of 20 on a regular spell to-hit roll vs. AC has the normal effect (double damage). A roll of 20 on other type of spell (fireball, cure wounds, etc) increases one aspect of the spell by 50% such as range, area, duration, number of targets affected, damage or healing dealt, etc (round down, so 9d6 becomes 13d6, 3 targets become 4, etc). Alternately, spells requiring a save can gain a +4 to spell save DC. The caster chooses which aspect to enhance for this casting.
- Critical Failure: a roll of 1 on the spell check or to-hit roll has the normal random effect as shown in Critical Misses topic. In addition, the spell caster gains 1 ‘corruption point’. Corruption points accumulate over time and cause various problems, increasing in severity until eventually, if the corruption is not somehow reduced, the spell caster will die or suffer some horrible fate. There is no standard way to remove corruption. Corruption points might be reduced (or increased) by powerful entities, arcane artifacts, holy relics or legendary locations at the DM’s discretion.
2. New spells gained automatically per level by wizards/warlocks/sorcerers/bards are always randomly assigned from all spells for that class.
3. Wizards are unique in being able to learn additional spells by finding spells in scrolls or books or by trading with other wizards during downtime. Spell traded away are always removed from all spellbooks possessed by the wizard and generally require the PC wizard to pay a 100gp*spell-level inducement. Finding a fellow wizard willing to trade spells requires a weekly Arcana skill check of varying DC depending on size of settlement, how common are wizards in that area, and spell level sought (DC10-30+spell level; +10 DC if a specific spell is sought). Each game-month, NPC wizards will be willing to trade up to 1d3 spells of the level sought by the PC wizard.
4. Wizards are at a disadvantage on spell checks when casting spells outside their magical school (roll twice and take the lower result). This effectively doubles the chance of a critical failure and corruption (see Critical Misses topic).
5. Wizards may learn additional magical schools at the cost of 4 ‘advancement’ points (see New Skill System topic).