A place to share thoughts and ideas about Dungeons and Dragons
Category Archives: Optional rules
March 31, 2018Posted by on
This is an expansion to a previous post. You may want to first read [D&D 5E – Creating the Party] before trying to make any sense out of this.
If you are using my “Creating the Party” rules to create your party, what if a new player joins the group?
The process will be similar to “Creating the Party” rules, but the other players will suggest his role and relationships.
The new player selects preferred Race and Class. Then all of the existing players have input regarding his role in the group and his relationships with the existing PCs.
First, have each of the existing players describe his character, its role in the group, its relationship with the other characters and its conflicts.
The group decides what role they would like for the new Player Character to assume in the party. If the new player would prefer to take on a different role then it is discussed and a mutually acceptable role will be agreed upon. The new player can change his selection of Race and/or Class at this time if he chooses to. He should also choose his character’s name.
2) PC’s relationships
The DM will ask for one of the existing players to come up with a relationship that his Character has with this new Character. If no one volunteers, the DM will randomly select someone. The group can all chime in with suggestions. It is okay if more than one existing Character has a relationship with this new Character.
If you are using this optional rule then, as with relationships, the DM asks for some player to come up with some trait or something from the new character’s past that his Character is uncomfortable with. Again, if the new player objects then it is discussed among the group until an agreeable conflict is selected. As with relationships – additional conflicts are okay.
4) Roll-up the character
Like everyone else did, using the role, relationships and conflicts as a guide for abilities and background.
If an existing player needs to roll-up a replacement character (if for instance his original character died), use the same process listed above, but allow that player to select a role, a relationship or two, and a conflict or two.
Because the player has been playing with the group, he already knows the relationships and conflicts that exist within the group so he can create a new character that can fit in well. Of course, encourage group discussion of his suggestions and allow the other players to suggest different options.
Refer to [D&D 5E – Creating the Party] for examples of Character Roles, Character Relationships and Objectionable Character Traits or Past actions.
The Player of this new Character can object to any of the other player’s suggestions and make counter suggestions of his own. The DM has final approval. Try to remember that this new Character must be fun for the player to play, if he has strong feelings for or against anything the others may want, you should typically allow his wishes to prevail – within reason.
March 7, 2018Posted by on
The Sedan Chair
This are my house rules for sedan chairs. Sedan chairs are essentially carts carried by strong humanoids, referred to as chairmen. All sedan chairs have silk tarps and heavy leather curtains to protect against snoops or the weather.
These portable covered chairs sport side windows and a hinged door at the front. Sedan chairmen insert long wood poles into metal brackets on either side of the chair. The poles are long and springy and provided a slightly bouncy ride. They are arranged in such a manner that the chair will remain in a horizontal position as the chairmen climb up steps or steep slopes. Passengers enter and exit between the poles.
For the more ornate sedan chairs, painters will create beautiful scenes on panels mounted on the sides, and many are extravagantly upholstered in silk on the inside. The less affluent have plainer, leather covered chairs.
Because these portable chairs can be carried inside buildings, people can be transported around the city without being identified. This makes it easier for people who were evading the law to go about their business, or for public personages to carry on trysts.
Chairmen have to be strong, fit and healthy as they are often standing outside in all weathers.
Cost for chairmen.
Permanent employ: 10 gp per week (5 gp for each chairman)
Per day: 2 gp per day (1 gp for each chairman)
Speed: The chair weighs 60 lb. If the total weight carried is under 200 lb. then the speed is 30 ft. If the total weight carried is 200 lb. or more, the speed is reduced to 20 ft. (Unless both chairmen have a strength of 20 or higher.)
January 27, 2018Posted by on
How do the PCs Come Together and Stay Together?
After watching this video “The coming revolution in role-play games? ” I started thinking that, when I begin a new Fifth Edition Dungeon and Dragons game I could do my character creation in a similar method. The reason that I might want to do this is that in many games the PCs don’t seem to have any good reason to be together, much else to function as a group. I have tried different things to encourage this, but borrowing some ideas from “Hillfolk” (a DramaSystem game) might work out well.
The idea behind DramaSystem is to build a varied and nuanced character with connections to other characters. This is not the sort of game that you go into with a preconceived notion of your character. Your character will change as you intuit the group’s overall build and decide that you would fit better in a different way. Then play takes place as a series of scenes. Each scene is determined by a player and may or may not include all of the other players. As you see, this is definitely not D&D.
DramaSystem is a true “role playing game”. D&D says that it is a role playing game, but it is primarily a “fight the monsters, get the treasure, save the world and get out alive” kind of game. I have no desire to turn it into an “explore your character’s true motivations and come to grips with your inner conflicts” kind of game. That being said, it wouldn’t hurt to start the game with the PCs having closer relationships with one another. So I borrowed heavily from DramaSystem to come up with this idea for running a session zero.
What is a Session Zero?
This is simply getting the group together before the first gaming session to roll characters together and talk about what kind of game it will be. It is not required and many DMs skip it altogether, or simply include it at the beginning of the first session.
Session zero usually involves the group meeting to discuss and establish the following.
- Game rules set to be played
- Table rules (table etiquette, behavior expectations, bringing up topics that players feel uncomfortable with, etc)
- House rules (changes from the core rules set, home-brew material, etc)
- Campaign expectations (Do we want to play an intrigue campaign? Dungeon crawler? An epic campaign?)
- Character creation
What I am suggesting here only addresses the last bullet point, Character creation.
Running Session Zero
Here is how I suggest that you as the DM might run a session zero.
The players may want to decide on their character’s race and class beforehand but otherwise they should not create their characters before they come to session zero.
You should start by describing the Campaign that you have in mind. Among the things you should explain to the players will be the level of magic and the overall theme of the campaign. Will it be mostly Gothic horror, nautical adventures, airships, a traditional dungeon crawl, or what? Then tell the players that they already know each other and have come together to form an adventuring party to rid the world of evil (or to explore ancient dungeons and get rich, or to find out what is causing all of the cattle to die, or to rescue the princess, or whatever the overarching theme is for your campaign).
1) PC’s Roles
Read aloud to the players, or paraphrase everything in maroon below, starting with:
You are not only creating your individual characters, but also their relationships with each other in order to create a group that can better function as a team. As you develop your PC each other player will build on that to develop his PC.
Have each player roll a d20. This will be a special initiative roll, but with no modifiers. Let ties be resolved by another roll between the tied players.
In initiative order describe your character including name, race, sex, class and what role your character will play in the group. Feel free to ask other players for ideas or suggestions. You should stop at that and not describe your character any further at this time. Specifically, you should not give your character any background information. That will come later. [Some examples of possible character roles are listed at the end of this page.]
Group participation is encouraged. By default, the first character to select a role to take in the group should get it, however if two characters both want to fill the same role, the other players can chime in and you can work it out as a group to everyone’s satisfaction.
If you are sitting around a battlemat; Write your character’s name in front of you on the mat, in large letters so everyone can see.
2) PC’s relationships.
Still in initiative order, explain your character’s relationship to one of the other characters of your choice. If possible, you should select a character that has not yet been selected, and that hasn’t selected you. How do you know that character? How did you meet? How long have you known each other? Tell us of some interesting event in your past that the two of you shared. [Some examples of possible character relationships are listed at the end of this page.]
We are just making stuff up here. The story you are telling about your character’s past is also helping to define the background of other characters in the group. If another player objects to what you say about his character’s background, he will say why he objects and suggest an alternative story. The group will decide what story they like best. I (the DM) will be the final arbitrator and can veto any story that I feel doesn’t fit into the campaign that I have in mind.
If you are sitting around a battlemat; Draw a line connecting your character’s name to the name of the character that you have a relationship with. Write a word or two along the line as a reminder to everyone as to what that relationship is.
If every character has a relationship with every other character or has a relationship with someone that does, you can continue on to step 3. In other words, if you can trace a path from everyone to everyone else that connects directly or goes through no more than one other character. If not, repeat step 2. Only add; This time you can select any other character that you want. It is okay if some characters are picked more than others.
3) PC’s Conflicts [Optional]
After step 2, you can quit this and have everyone finish creating his or her character as you normally would. Or for a little more interaction between PCs, continue on with this final step.
On your turn in the new initiative order, select someone else’s character. This does not have to be a character that you have a relationship with. Come up with one thing that your character doesn’t like about that character, or that makes your character uneasy. This can be something that he has done in the past, or some mannerism or personality trait. [Some examples are listed at the end of this page.]
Again, if the other character’s player objects, the group gets to decide if this would be fun for the group and the DM gets the final verdict.
4) Roll-up the characters
Have everyone roll-up his character as you normally would, but they should use the partial background just created as a jumping off place to assign ability scores and to fill in their character’s background. If there are backgrounds in the Player’s Handbook (PHB) that fit with what was discussed, he can choose one of those. If not, work with him to create a background that is unique to his character. Refer to “Customizing A Background” on page 126 of the PHB.
5) Play D&D
The idea here is to produce a Player Character Party where the individual members know each other better. Hopefully it will result in more personal interaction and cooperation between PCs than the typical “My character is an orphan. I just met these other guys. I couldn’t care less about them. I just thought I would have a better chance to survive if I wasn’t alone.”
EXAMPLES of CHARACTER ROLES
Some examples of what your character’s role in the group might be include:
the dealer with undead
the magical blaster
the magical buffer
the moral compass
the ranged support
the skill monkey
the spell caster
the trap finder
EXAMPLES of CHARACTER RELATIONSHIPS
This can be a family relationship such as wife, husband, father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, cousin, etc. Or it can be a longtime friend. Some examples using the name “Fred” as the PC you have a relationship with:
“I am from a large family. We lived just outside of a large city (the DM can insert the name of a big city here). When I was just a lad, we were attacked by goblins and they almost wiped out my entire family. My brother Fred and I were the only survivors.”
“I met Fred when I as a temple guard. He was a raw recruit and I taught him everything I know about enforcing the law.”
“Fred is several years older than I am. He caught me stealing fruit off an apple cart. He took me in and taught me everything I know about being a thief in the big city.”
“Fred and I just happened to be at the same bar when we were both impressed into the navy. We served on the same ship for three years and became fast friends.”
EXAMPLES of OBJECTIONABLE CHARACTER TRAITS or PAST ACTIONS
I don’t like the way he:
Looks down on people that are of a higher (or lower) class than he is.
Looks at me.
Thinks he is smarter than everyone else.
Eats his food.
Is never around when there is work to be done.
Treats (one of the PC’s).
Drinks too much.
Eats too much.
Is always primping.
Is always daydreaming.
Can never sit still.
Is always sharpening his weapon.
Talks too much.
Stole something from me.
Beat me in a contest.
Saved my life.
Stole the love of my life.
Played a practical joke on me.
Watched while I almost died.
Wouldn’t share his food when I was starving.
Borrowed money from me and has never paid his debt.
Broke my heart.
Nearly killed me.
Saved someone I love.
Whatever trait you choose, fill in some specific details like who, what, when and where?
December 29, 2017Posted by on
5.0-EZ Version 5
Download your free copy here.
A supplement to fifth edition dungeons and dragons for those who prefer simpler rules or want an easy way to introduce the game to new players.
This version is a major re-write after play-testing the previous version. The changes mainly relate to bringing the rules more in line with those in the Player’s Handbook to make it easier for a new player to transition from this to the full set of rules found there.
December 12, 2017Posted by on
Special Weapon Materials
With the exception of Adamantine armor and weapons, and Mithral armor, fifth edition does not (yet) have any official rules for weapons and armor made from other non-standard materials. If your campaign includes primitive lands, you might need rules for stone or bone. Here are some house rules you may want to use.
The metal weapons and armor in the PHB are assumed to be steel. In primitive areas, steel may not be available. In other areas more advanced materials such as Adamantine or Mithral might be available. Some of these materials grant the item the fragile property – a property that can be applied to both weapons and armor.
The Fragile Property
Fragile weapons cannot take the beating that sturdier weapons can. If you roll a natural 1 on an attack roll with a fragile weapon, you must then make a DC(10) Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) save or that weapon is damaged and only does half damage after that. If already damaged, the weapon is destroyed instead.
Armor with the fragile property falls apart when hit with heavy blows. If you are wearing fragile armor and are hit with a critical hit, you must make a DC(10) Dexterity (Acrobatics) save or the armor is damaged and the AC bonus it provides is halved. If already damaged, the armor is destroyed instead.
This is one of the hardest substances in existance.
Can be any Medium or heavy armor, but not hide. While you’re wearing it, any critical hit against you becomes a normal hit.
Melee weapons and ammunition made of or coated with adamantine are unusually effective when used to break objects. Whenever an adamantine weapon or piece of ammunition hits an object, the hit is a critical hit.
The adamantine version of a suit of armor, or a melee weapon or of ten pieces of ammunition costs 500 gp more than the normal version, whether the weapon or ammunition is made of the metal or coated with it.
Mithral is a light, flexable metal.
Can be any Medium or Heavy armor, but not hide. A mithral chain shirt or brestplate can be worn under normal cloths. If the armor normally imposes disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks or has a Strength requirement, the mithral version of the armor doesn’t.
An item made from mithral weighs half as much as the same item made from other metals. Mithral is too light to be used for Heavy weapons. If the weapon isn’t Heavy, it becomes Light. If it is already listed as Light it gains the Finesse property. If the weapon is Two-Handed it is now instead Versatile. Mithral ammunition it too light to be effective.
The mithral version of a suit of armor or a melee weapon costs 200 gp more than the normal version.
This iron, mined deep underground, known for its effectiveness against fey creatures, is forged at a lower temperature to preserve its delicate properties. Items made of cold iron weighs one and one half times as much as the same item made from steel.
Cold Iron armor
Can be any Medium or Heavy armor, but not hide. Medium armor imposes a -1 penalty to the DEX modifier for calculating the Armor Class (AC). Heavy armor requires a Str score 2 points higher than that listed in the PHB. Cold iron armor grants a +2 bonus to armor class against any attacks from fey creatures.
Cold Iron weapons
Items without metal parts cannot be made from cold iron. An arrow could be made of cold iron, but a standard quarterstaff could not. Cold iron weapons lose all Light and Finesse properties. A cold iron weapon grants a +2 bonus to hit against fey creatures. If the creature wielding it has a strength score of 15 or higher, and the weapon does bludgeoning damage, a +1 bonus is added to damage rolls.
The cold iron version of a suit of armor or a melee weapon costs twice as much as the normal version.
Steel is the default metal used for weapons and armor.
Steel is iron ore with unwanted impurities removed and other impurities introduced. These impurities strengthen iron, making it far more resilient.
Items made of iron weighs one and one half times as much as the same item made from steel.
Can be any Medium or Heavy armor, but not hide. Medium armor imposes a -1 penalty to the DEX modifier for calculating the Armor Class (AC). Heavy armor requires a Str score 2 points higher than that listed in the PHB.
Items without metal parts cannot be made from iron. An arrow could be made of iron, but a standard quarterstaff could not. Iron weapons lose all Light and Finesse properties.
Armor and Weapons made from Iron cost the same as those made from steel.
Before the advent of iron and steel, bronze ruled the world. This easily worked metal can be used in place of steel for both weapons and armor. For simplicity’s sake, similar or component metals such as brass, copper, or even tin can use the following rules, even though in reality bronze is both harder and more reliable than those metals.
Bronze can be used to create any medium or light armor made entirely of metal or that has metal components. It protects a creature as well as steel armor does, but it has the fragile property. Bronze armor has the same weight as normal steel armor of its type.
Bronze weapons have the same weight and do the same damage as steel weapons of the same type but also have the fragile property.
Armor and Weapons made from bronze cost half as much as those made from steel.
Stone Age weapons almost always utilize stone in some way. From rocks lashed to wooden hafts to create early maces and axes, to flint knives and stone arrowheads, these primitive weapons are still deadly.
Armor cannot usually be constructed from stone, but advanced, often alchemically enhanced stone armor made by dwarves or other stone-working cultures does exist. They are one third the weight of their base armor, and have the fragile property.
Light and one-handed bludgeoning weapons, spears, axes, daggers, and arrowheads can all be made of stone. Weapons made of stone are one third the weight of their base weapons, and have the fragile property.
Alchemically enhanced stone armor cost twice its standard cost. Weapons made from stone cost one quarter as much as those made from steel.
Bone can be used in place of wood and steel in weapons and armor. Other animal-based materials like horn, shell, and ivory also use the rules for bone weapon and armor.
Studded leather, scale mail, breastplates, and wooden shields can all be constructed using bone. Bone either replaces the metal components of the armor, or in the case of wooden shields, large pieces of bone or shell replace the wood. They are one quarter the weight of their base armor, and have the fragile property. The armor/shield bonus of bone armor is reduced by 1. If the armor normally imposes disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks or has a Strength requirement, the bone version of the armor doesn’t.
Light and one-handed melee weapons, as well as two-handed weapons that deal bludgeoning damage only, can be crafted from bone. Hafted two-handed weapons such as spears can be crafted with bone tips, as can arrowheads. Other two-handed weapons cannot be constructed of bone. Bone weapons have the the fragile property. Bone weapons take a –1 penalty on damage rolls (minimum 1 damage).
Armor and Weapons made from bone cost one tenth as much as those made from steel, but they are not normally available except in those cultures that use them.
We are talking here about non-tempered wood that is fashioned by hand with primitive tools into armor or weapons.
Rustic Wood Armor
Studded leather, scale mail, breastplates, and shields can all be constructed using roughly worked wood. Wood replaces the metal components of the armor. They are one quarter the weight of their base armor, and have the fragile property. The armor bonus of rustic wood armor is half that listed in the PHB, except no AC reduction for rustic wood shields. If the armor normally imposes disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks or has a Strength requirement, the wood version of the armor doesn’t.
Rustic Wooden Weapons
Light and one-handed melee weapons, as well as two-handed weapons that deal bludgeoning damage only, can be crafted from roughly worked wood. Hafted two-handed weapons such as spears can be crafted entirely of wood, as can arrows. Other two-handed weapons cannot be constructed of wood. Rustic Wood weapons have the the fragile property. Rustic Wood weapons take a –2 penalty on damage rolls (minimum 1 point damage).
Rustic Wood Armor and Weapons are not normally available except in those cultures that use them. A PC might make them himself, or barter for them.
November 19, 2017Posted by on
I just updated this file. I had left out the Ranger page. It is included in this new version.
The 5.0-EZ book contains rules for using the common Races: Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling. This supplement contains rules for the uncommon races: Dragonborn, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, and Tiefling.
The 5.0-EZ book contains rules for using the classic classes: Fighter, Cleric, Wizard and Thief. This supplement contains rules for these additional classes: Barbarian, Bard, Druid, Ranger, Monk, Paladin, Sorcerer and Warlock
These additional races and classes are by their nature more complicated to play than those included in 5.0-EZ.
October 4, 2017Posted by on
Laws of Motion
I see the D&D universe as a pre-Newtonian world. Very much controlled by something similar to Aristotle’s Laws of Motion. At least, that is the way that the most intelligent thinkers of the time believe that it works. All spells that affect the target’s speed or location, such as fly, levitate, teleport, etc. cancel all current forces acting on the target and replaces them with the effects of the spell.
So first I will present the laws of motion as known by most magic users in the D&D universe.
This is how it might be explained to you by the smartest man in the kingdom. [Please understand that the ideas below may represent a view of the world similar to that held in 300 BC, but was later replaced by Isaac Newton’s much more accurate laws of motion.]
The Celestial Sphere
“Objects in the heavens (the celestial sphere) move in circular motion, without any external force compelling them to do so. Objects on Earth (the terrestrial sphere) move in straight lines unless forced to move in a curve.
First, although most commoners think that the Earth is flat, it is indeed spherical. You know. Round like a ball. It only appears to be flat because it is so large. The Earth is in the center of the universe. It is surrounded by the celestial sphere, where lie the sun, the moons, all of the planets and the stars. All of these celestial bodies circle the Earth. The apparent motions of the fixed stars and planets are accounted for by the fact that they are embedded in rotating spheres made of an aetherial, transparent fifth element (quintessence), like jewels set in orbs. The fixed stars do not change their positions relative to one another because they are on the surface of this single starry sphere.
The stars, Sun, Moon, and planets are all made of fire. But whilst the stars are fastened on a revolving crystal sphere like nails or studs, the Sun, Moon, and planets, and also the Earth, all just ride on air like leaves because of their breadth. And whilst the fixed stars are carried around in a complete circle by the stellar sphere, the Sun, Moon, and planets do not revolve under the Earth between setting and rising again like the stars do, but rather on setting they go laterally around the Earth like a cap turning halfway around the head until they rise again.”
The Terrestrial Sphere
“To the motion of non-living things, such as a stone dropped from the hand, is explained by two principles; Natural Motion and Violent Motion.”
“The 4 elements [earth, air, fire and water] tend to seek their natural place in the order of things. So earth moves downwards most strongly, water flows downwards too, but not so strongly, since a stone will fall through water. In contrast, air moves up (bubbles in water), and fire goes upwards most strongly of all since it shoots upward through air. Most materials that you see around you are mixtures of elements. For example, wood has both earth and air in it, since it does not sink in water.
Natural motion causes undisturbed inanimate objects to travel in a straight line either toward the center of the Earth or away from it. Left undisturbed, a pure Earth would consist of an inner ball of earth surrounded by a shell of water over which would be a layer of air and above all would be an outer layer of fire.”
“Things also move because they are pushed. A stone’s natural tendency, if left alone and unsupported, is to fall, but we can lift it, or even throw it through the air. We call such forced motion “violent” motion as opposed to “natural” motion. The term “violent” just means that some external force is applied to it.
Heavier things fall faster, the speed being proportional to the weight. The speed of fall of a given object depends inversely on the density of the medium it is falling through. So, for example, the same body will fall twice as fast through a medium of half the density.
For violent motion, the speed of the moving object is in direct proportion to the applied force. This means that if you stop pushing, the object will soon stop moving.”
How this Effects Magical Spells
So the magic caster thinks that a body in motion only stays in motion as long as the force causing it to move continues to push it. Otherwise, it will eventually slow to a stop. So for teleportation – when the subject of the spell arrives at its new destination all external forces stop acting on it and it arrives at its destination as intended. External forces, in this case, would include what we refer to as inertia.
This also makes answering questions like this much easier:
“What if the PC walks through a teleportation gate and arrives at another location thousands of miles away?” Think of the actual, physical conditions. The Earth is spinning about 24 thousand miles per hour from West to East. Depending on where on Earth the other portal is located, inertia could be a big problem. Not to mention orientation.
Even something a simple as a feather fall ring. “What if the wearer was shot out of a cannon?” At the top of the arc, he would begin to fall. So feather fall kicks in and he begins to fall slowly. If inertia is still in effect he will travel much farther and still hit the ground at the speed that he was shot out of the cannon. This is obviously not the intention of the feather fall spell. If on the other hand, inertia and gravity are no longer pushing on the PC and are replaced by the magical feather fall rules, he floats gently down from the point where he begins to fall.
“If you are flying through space on a sailing ship that has a magical gravity bubble surrounding it, what happens if you fall overboard?” I would say that you fall as if you were on earth until you reached the edge of the gravity bubble and then slowly stop when the force of the magical gravity stops pulling you down.
July 10, 2017Posted by on
Viaggi, Avventure, Abbordaggi e Combattimenti tra le onde dei sette mari
(Travel, Adventures, Boardings and Fighting between the waves of the Seven Seas)
You can get your free copy of this here: http://homebrewery.naturalcrit.com/share/BJL8XcjyZ
Luke translated my D&D 5E – Nautical Adventures into Italian and created this amazing version. It is an excellent example of what can be done with the homebrewery site. http://homebrewery.naturalcrit.com/
June 25, 2017Posted by on
Download your free copy here.
Go here to download a supplement that adds all of the races and classes that are in the Player’s Handbook.
If you sometimes feel that the fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons rules are too complicated, this is for you. I created this set of house rules to simplify character creation and advancement among other things. It also introduces a whole new way to select and track the casting of magic spells.
One thing I tried very hard to do was keep the characters levels and power as close as possible to the Player’s Handbook characters so that if you play using these rules, you can still use published 5th edition adventures, and the monsters will require little or no modifications.
Here is what is on the EZ character sheet.