Category: Homebrew & Houserules

Lifestyle Costs & Skill Use

MARKETABLE SKILLS   

5th edition simplifies player expenses, so that games don’t become exercises in accounting.  Chapter 5 of the PHB gives the daily cost for the various lifestyles (wretched, squalid, poor, modest, comfortable, wealthy, and aristocratic) and explains each lifestyle on pages 157 & 158.  The following system would allow players to ply a trade in order to live at a given lifestyle at no cost… but with no chance of monetary gain either.  I’d use this in place of Running a Business (DMG 129) to keep things relatively simple.

Lifestyle Proficiency Check:  I’d allow players to use proficiencies to make a living over the course of one month in place of charging lifestyle expenses.  Characters would have to spend the majority of their day (8-12 hours) engaged in skill or tool use to make a living off of it.  The base DC to achieve the listed lifestyle at no cost would be:

  • Wretched:  N/A.  This is scraping the bottom of the barrel.  PCs would never fall to this level without some major setback (see Carousing below).
  • Squalid:  0
  • Poor: 5
  • Modest: 10
  • Comfortable:  20
  • Wealthy: 25
  • Aristocratic: 30

Limits based on the wealth of the local population should apply.  For example, a character performing at a grimy tavern in the seedy section of town should be limited to modest lifestyle… even if his weekly performance roll indicates that he has earned a better lifestyle.

Here’s a breakdown of how each skill or tool proficiency could be used to earn a living, including notes on the lifestyle proficiency check roll:

Strength

  • Athletics:  Performing feats of strength (i.e. acting as a porter, wrestling in a fighting pit).  Roll at disadvantage because this represents the lowest form of labor.

Dexterity

  • Acrobatics:  Performing as an acrobat or juggler.
  • Sleight of Hand:  Picking pockets, stealing small objects, and confidence games.
  • Stealth:  Spying and scouting for guilds, military units, or other patrons would also require successful perception, investigation, and/or insight rolls.

Intelligence

  • Arcana, History, Investigation, Nature, and Religion:  The character could hire out as a sage or act as a consultant/researcher for a patron or group (i.e a guild or church).  Investigation could also be used by constables, reeves, church inquisitors, etc to perform their duties. Roll at disadvantage as plenty of apprentices would perform such services for free.  Roll normally if the employment has inherent risks to health or well-being.

Wisdom

  • Animal Handling:  Farmhand, animal trainer, mounted courier, or mounted mercenary. Roll at disadvantage unless the employment involves risks that allow for greater compensation.
  • Insight:  Fortune teller, con artist, local magistrate, judge, or adviser.
  • Medicine:  Veterinarian, goodwife, barber, apothecary, or physician.
  • Perception:  This would usually be used in conjunction with stealth to spy on others.  It could also be used for town watchmen or those who need to be observant (i.e. sailor in the crow’s nest or scout). Roll at disadvantage unless the employment brings the character into harm’s way.
  • Survival:  Frontiersmen, surveyors, guides, trackers.  Roll at disadvantage due to the nature and location of the employment.

Charisma

  • Deception: Fortune teller, con artist, charlatan, or beggar.  Beggars would roll at disadvantage while con artists and charlatans would not due to the higher stakes and risks involved with those endeavors.
  • Intimidation:  Gang enforcer, crooked constable, threatening beggar, highwayman.
  • Performance: Poet, actor, lay minister, musician.
  • Persuasion: Town crier, politician, adviser, orator, or lawyer.

Tools & Kits
Most tool or kit proficiency checks require the tools, supplies, and a space in which to work.  Assuming that these are available, the check is made with no modifier.

Gaming set
All gaming set proficiency checks are made with no modifier unless cheating is involved.  With a successful Sleight of Hands roll the gaming set proficiency check may be made with advantage.   A character caught cheating  will find that his fortunes change rather quickly.

Musical instrument
All instrument proficiency checks may be combined with performance checks or could be made to tutor pupils in the use of those instruments.

CAROUSING 

Characters who wish to carouse (DMG 128) live at one lifestyle rank lower than that indicated by their lifestyle skill check to account for the added expenses incurred by their wanton ways.

dwarves

TRAITS & PASSIONS SYSTEM IN D&D (Part 1)

My absolute favorite aspect of the Pendragon rules is its use of traits and passions to flesh out characters, define their motivations, and, at times, compel them to take actions that are in keeping with those traits and passion.

With WotC’s Unearthed Arcana with variant alignment system in mind, I thought I’d see if I could effectively shoehorn my favorite bit from Pendragon into my new favorite RPG.

 

INITIAL TRAITS

Roll 3d6 to determine each of the 13 traits listed in the left-hand column below.  These traits are also called virtues.

Add any cultural and racial modifiers to the relevant traits, to a maximum of 20 and minimum of 1. No starting trait may exceed 20, even after initial modifiers.  If no virtues are notable (14 or higher), you may raise one virtue of your choice to 14.

  • Values of 8-13 indicate no strong leanings with regards to that trait.
  • Values of 7 or lower show that you exhibit the vice listed in the column to the immediate right of the listed trait.
  • Values of 14 or higher show that you are virtuous, and strongly exhibit the virtue listed in the far right column.
Traits 7 or lower 14 or higher
Chastity Lustful Chaste
Constancy Arbitrary Just
Diligence Slothful Energetic
Generosity Selfish Generous
Honesty Deceitful Honest
Magnanimity Vengeful Forgiving
Mercy Cruel Merciful
Modesty Proud Modest
Piety Worldly Pious
Prudence Reckless Prudent
Temperance Indulgent Temperate
Trust Suspicious Trusting
Valor Cowardly Valorous

TRAIT MODIFIERS BY RACE

These should be left to individual DMs and be heavily dependent on the campaign world and tone that they are aiming for.  I’ve provided some quick examples that I’d use in my classic Greyhawk campaign.

Dwarf, Mountain or Hill:  +2 to Constancy, Diligence, and Valor/-2 to Generosity, Magnanimity, and Trust

Elf, High, Grey, or Valley: +2 to Diligence, Mercy, and Temperance/-2 to Constancy, Modesty, and Trust

Elf, Wood or Wild:  +2 to Diligence, Mercy, and Valor/-2 to Constancy, Magnanimity, and Trust*

* Wild elves suffer a -4 penalty to Trust

Gnomes, Deep:  +2 to Constancy, Diligence, and Prudence/-2 to Generosity,  Magnanimity, and Trust

Gnomes, Surface:  +2 to Mercy and Prudence/-2 to Magnanimity and Temperance

Halflings, All:  +2 to Generosity, Magnanimity, and Mercy/-2 to Diligence, Temperance, and Valor

Half-Orc:  +2 to Diligence and Valor/-2 to Magnanimity, Mercy, and Trust

Humans: While cultural modifiers could be used, I’d simply allow humans to add 2 to up to three traits and subtract 3 from an equal number of traits.

 

TRAIT SCORE MODIFIERS

When making a trait  test (which will be explained in an upcoming post) to resist giving into a particular trait’s, the trait score assigns a modifier which works just like ability score modifiers.

Score             Modifier

1                       -5

2-3                    -4

4-5                    -3

6-7                   -2

8-9                   -1

10-11                +0

12-13                 +1

14-15                 +2

16-17                +3

18-19                +4

20-21                +5

22-23                +6

24-25                +7

26-27                +8

28-29                +9

30                    +10

TRAITS & ALIGNMENT

Law/Chaos Axis

Honesty
Constancy
Prudence
Piety

Lawful:  Trait modifiers for these traits total +8 or more.

Neutral:  Trait modifiers for these traits total -7 through +7.

Chaotic:  Traits modifiers total -8 or less.

Good/Evil Axis

Chastity
Diligence
Magnanimity
Generosity
Mercy
Modesty
Temperance
Trust
Valor

Good:  Trait modifiers for these traits total +18 or more.

Neutral: Trait modifiers for these traits total -17 through +17.

Evil:  Traits modifiers total -18 or less.

dragon with hoard

Tool Proficiencies in 5th Edition

According to the DMG (239) the proficiency bonus for tool proficiencies don’t apply when making ability checks to ascertain the quality, or to discern the origin, of a crafted items, since these checks do not require tool use.

I strongly disagree with this because no one should be more qualified to appraise and examine an item or structure than someone skilled in its creation.

In the PHB, tool proficiency affords the following:

A tool helps you to do something you couldn’t otherwise do, such as craft or repair an item, forge a document, or pick a lock. Your race, class, background, or feats give you proficiency with certain tools. Proficiency with a tool allows you to add your proficiency bonus to any ability check you make using that tool. Tool use is not tied to a single ability, since  proficiency with a tool represents broader knowledge o f its use. For example, the DM might ask you to make a Dexterity check to carve a fine detail with your woodcarver’s tools, or a Strength check to make something out o f particularly hard wood.

I’d expand this slightly, by allowing tool proficiency bonuses on both investigation and appraisal checks made to examine items that would be made with those tools.  If the character is proficient in the investigation skill, he does not gain any additional bonus (as he already has a proficiency bonus to such checks).

Furthermore I’d allow characters with a tool proficiency to more capably run a business related to that craft.  In the DMG, on page 129, there is a chart that determines how successful a character is in the running of a business enterprise.  I’d allow characters with a tool proficiency bonus to multiply that bonus by 5 and add it to the percentile die result.  I wouldn’t add any ability score modifier to this bonus because, when running a business, various ability scores would come into play (CHA to deal with suppliers, debtors, and customers, INT to balance the books and deal with the minutia of running a business, WIS to know how to deal with the unexpected, to apply common-sense when tackling problems, and to have the strength of will to weather rough patches, STR and/DEX to work at creating goods for sale, etc.)

Fixing the Medicine Skill, Healer’s Kit, and Healer Feat (D&D 5th Edition) – Updated on 5/29

Reading the PHB, it’s pretty clear that the Medicine skill does nothing to aid in the treatment of wounds, ailments, or diseases.  As written, it only allows for stabilizing dying creatures and for diagnosing illnesses.

Here are my slight changes to Medicine (and associated changes to the healer’s kit and Healer feat):

SKILL

Medicine.  A Wisdom (Medicine) check lets you try to stabilize a dying companion, evaluate others wounds, diagnose illnesses, treat poisoned or diseased creatures, and examine corpses in order determine the cause of death.

With a successful Wisdom (Medicine) check you can stabilize a dying character at 0 hit points.

Medicine may also be used to provide long-term care to poisoned or diseased creatures.  When a poisoned or diseased creature is cared for by someone proficient in the Medicine skill, they make their recuperation saving throws (see Downtime: Recuperating on page 187 of the Player’s Handbook) with advantage.

EQUIPMENT

Healer’s Kit.  This kit is a leather pouch containing bandages, salves, and splints. The kit has ten uses. As an action, you can expend one use of the kit to stabilize a creature that has 0 hit points, without needing to make a Wisdom (Medicine) check.

If you expend one use of a healer’s kit to treat a poisoned or diseased creature, they make their recuperation saving throw (see Downtime: Recuperating on page 187 of the Player’s Handbook) with advantage.

FEAT

Healer.  You are an able physician, allowing you to mend wounds quickly and get your allies back in the fight. You gain the following benefits:

  • You have advantage on all Wisdom (Medicine) checks.
  • When you use a healer’s kit to stabilize a dying creature, that creature also regains 1d6+4 hit points.
  • As an action, you can spend one use of a healer’s kit to tend to a creature and restore 1d6 + 4 hit points to it, plus additional hit points equal to the creature’s maximum number of Hit Dice. The creature can’t regain hit points from this feat again until it finishes a short or long rest.

DOWNTIME

Recuperating.  You can use downtime between adventures to recover from a debilitating injury, disease, or poison.  After three days of downtime spent recuperating, you can make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw.  If you are treated by someone proficient in the Medicine skills, you have advantage on this saving throw.  On a successful save, you can choose one of the following results:

  • End one effect on you that prevents you from regaining hit points.
  • For the next 24 hours, gain advantage on saving throws against one disease or poison currently affecting you.

Lingering Wounds for 5th Edition D&D

As much as I’m digging 5th edition, the ability to completely heal all damage with a long rest doesn’t sit well with me.  Here’s a simple method that allows for lingering wound effects without bogging down the game.  It has the added benefit of giving new options for recovering from exhaustion effects (which is especially useful for berserker barbarians using the frenzy ability).

WOUND LEVELS

This optional rule allows for lingering wounds while keeping hit point recovery as is. To keep things abstract and simple, creatures take 1 level of exhaustion when they suffer a critical hit (instead of suffering increased damage) or drop to 0 hp. To offset the exhaustion effects associated with wound levels, cure wounds and restoration spells would remove exhaustion effects in addition to their curative effects. Cure wounds removes one level of exhaustion. Lesser restoration now removes up to two levels of exhaustion and greater restoration removes all levels of exhaustion.

EXHAUSTION

Some special abilities and environmental hazards, such as starvation and the long-term effects of freezing or scorching temperatures, can lead to a special condition called exhaustion. Exhaustion is measured in six levels. An effect can give a creature one or more levels of exhaustion, as specified in the effect’s description.

Level 1: Disadvantage on ability checks

Level 2:   Speed halved

Level 3:  Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws

Level 4:  Hit point maximum halved

Level 5:  Speed reduced to 0

Level 6: Death

If an already exhausted creature suffers another effect that causes exhaustion, its current level of exhaustion increases by the amount specified in the effect’s description. A creature suffers the effect of its current level of exhaustion as well as all lower levels. For example, a creature suffering level 2 exhaustion has its speed halved and has disadvantage on ability checks. An effect that removes exhaustion reduces its level as specified in the effect’s description, with all exhaustion effects ending if a creature’s exhaustion level is reduced below 1. Finishing a long rest reduces a creature’s exhaustion level by 1, provided that the creature has also ingested some food and drink.

Stealing from 5th Edition D&D for 5th Edition Pendragon

One of my pet peeves with Pendragon is its use of reflexive modifiers on opposed checks.

Example:
If a mounted lance-wielder attacked a dagger-armed man on foot, the mounted man would receive a +5 modifier to his Lance skill for being mounted, while the man on foot would suffer a –5 modifier to his Dagger skill for the disadvantage of such a tiny weapon against a lance in this situation.

Rather than applying such modifiers (which stack things heavily in favor of one combatant) I’d like to use a modified form of 5th Edition D&D’s advantage rules:

Advantage:
Sometimes circumstances dictate that you are at an advantage when making a d20 check. When that happens, you roll a second d20 when you make the roll and use the more advantageous die roll.  Examples of circumstances that grant advantage include:

  • Hunting with hunting dogs
  • Finding one’s way in local woodlands
  • Attacking a foot soldier from horseback
  • Attacking an unaware foe
  • Sneaking up on a distracted guard
  • Making a trait check when circumstances favor that trait heavily

Advantage can apply to both opposed and unopposed checks and, in instances where multiple variables are at play, consider if the overall circumstances are clearly favorable to the individual making the d20 check. 

Inspired characters gain advantage on their chosen d20 check.  In instances where both parties have some form of advantage (i.e. inspired Saxon berserker attacking a mounted knight), the advantages cancel each other out so that both parties make normal d20 rolls.  

A combatant using the “uncontrolled attack” option (which used to be called “berserker attack” in older editions of Pendragon) gains advantage on their d20 weapon skill roll.  Likewise, a combatant using the “defense” option gains advantage on their d20 weapon skill roll but cannot deal damage.  As such, the advantage gained through an “uncontrolled attack” would be negated by an opponent choosing “defense”. 

Disadvantage:

Disadvantage only applies to unopposed d20 checks when you are clearly at a disadvantage.  In such situations, roll a second d20 when you make the roll and use the less advantageous die roll.  Examples of circumstances that grant disadvantage include:

  • Finding ones’ way in a mist-shrouded forest
  • Attacking a heavily concealed foe with a ranged weapon
  • Climbing a wall in chain or plate armor

Disadvantage does not apply to opposed checks because, in such instances that favored one individual over another, the favored individual would gain advantage on their d20 roll.  

Examples:  A bear being hunted by a drunken knight would have advantage on its avoidance roll against the knight’s hunting roll.  Also, an alert guard would have advantage on his awareness skill check when rolling against a fully armored knight sneaking towards him.  If that guard were distracted, however, neither roll would have the advantage.

Skills by Culture (Pendragon 5th Edition)

I’ll get back to posting about other games (D&D 5th Edition in particular) but, first, I’d like to get back to my added options for creating 5th Edition Pendragon characters.

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CLASS QUALIFICATIONS

If your character has all the attributes listed below, he qualifies for that class. Check with the gamemaster for female player characters.

Squire
Skills: First Aid 6, Battle 1, Horsemanship 6, one other skill (normally Sword) at 5
Traits & Passions: Valorous 8, Loyalty (Lord) 10

Footsoldier
Skills: Great Spear 10, Other Weapon 5
Traits & Passions: Valorous 10, Loyalty (Lord) 10

Sergeant
Skills: Lance 10, Spear 5, Other Weapon 10, Horsemanship 10
Traits & Passions: Valorous 10, Loyalty (Lord) 10
The character must own a healthy combat-trained horse (rouncy, charger, etc.) with all tack, weapons, and a suit of armor.

Warrior
Skills: Primary cultural weapon 10, First Aid 6

Traits & Passions: Valorous 12, Loyalty (Lord) 10, Honor 8

The character must possess the traditional weapons and equipment for the culture.

Mercenary Knight or Knight Errant
Skills: First Aid 6, Sword or other weapon 10, Lance 10, Spear 5, Horsemanship 10
Traits & Passions: Valorous 12, Honor 5, Loyalty (Lord) 15
The character must own a healthy combat-trained horse (rouncy, charger, etc.) with all tack, weapons, and a suit of armor. — The character must be knighted by a lord for favors done or heroic acts performed during play, most commonly on the battlefield. Squires, warriors, and sergeants are all occasionally knighted for their actions, and if the lord performing the ceremony cannot support them, they must live as mercenaries or errant knights until another lord is found.
Sometimes during a campaign the son of a heroic player character will be knighted by the heroic character’s lord, as a favor for past services. This must be determined during play. As on the battlefield, if the lord cannot support more household knights, the new knight becomes a mercenary or errant knight.

Bachelor (Household) Knight
Skills: First Aid 10, Battle 10, Lance 10, Horsemanship 10, Sword 10, Any other 2 non-combat skills 10
Traits & Passions: Valorous 15, Honor 5, Loyalty (lord ) 15
The character must own a healthy combat-trained horse (rouncy, charger, etc.) with all tack, weapons, and a suit of metal armor. Normally a household knight must be the son of a knight and age 21. Thus continuity is preserved. Some exceptions to these qualifications exist. Specifically, eldest sons may turn out not to qualify according to these standards, but may be knighted anyway if they can make a fair showing at knightly skills, especially if they are heirs to the title and their father is dead. Thus there are a fair number of rich, powerful, spoiled, unqualified adolescents riding around as knights.

Vassal Knight, Banneret, Lord
Not available at the start of play using this book. All bachelor knight requirements are needed. In addition, the character must have hereditary rights to the position, or be granted it through play. See Pendragon and the “Noble Ambitions” chapter for more information.
Lucky player knights who are also eldest sons of a lord who has died may immediately take an oath of homage and fealty to their liege lord to obtain their rightful office. However, this may depend upon game play, since many lords insist that new knights first prove themselves worthy of their inheritance. The gamemaster controls the situation.

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