Fight In Spirit
This is a special combat action that you can take when you are out of the fight altogether. Once a round you can specify how your character is still there ―fighting in spirit‖ alongside the other party members. Come up with some story about what your character has done that could boost party morale. The GM may grant any ally a +1 bonus to attacks, Armor Class, or Saves. The first time each battle that someone fights in spirit may be a +2 bonus. The bonus lasts one to two rounds. If the fight is still on and you have something else to add to the story, sell it to the GM.
If you’re still (even partly) in the fight, then you can’t fight in spirit.
Backgrounds & Skill Checks
Backgrounds represent pieces of your character’s history that contributes to your character’s history as well as their ability to succeed with non-combat skills.
This is a variant rule from the DMG that replaces skills and tools proficiencies with character backgrounds. These are broad categories of experience (cat burglar, for example) rather than specific implementations of that experience (climbing and hiding).
Backgrounds don’t sync to a specific ability score, though some backgrounds obviously may get used more often with certain ability scores than others.
Anything that would grant the character a skill or tool proficiency provides no benefit. Instead, a character can add his or her proficiency bonus to any ability check to which the character’s prior training and experience (reflected in the character’s background) reasonably applies.
For example, the player of a character with the noble background could reasonably argue that the proficiency bonus should apply to a Charisma check the character makes to secure an audience with the king.
If the character has the Expertise feature, instead of choosing skills or tools to gain the benefit of that feature, the player defines aspects of his or her background to which the benefit applies. Continuing with the noble example, the player might decide to apply Expertise to “situations where courtly manners and etiquette are paramount” and “figuring out the secret plots that court members hatch against one another.”
Additionally, the player can apply the proficiency bonus to any ability check directly related to the character’s positive personality traits. For example, a character with the positive personality trait of “I never have a plan, but I’m great at making things up as I go along” might apply the bonus when engaging in some off-the-cuff deception to get out of a tight spot.
However, when a character’s negative personality trait directly impacts an ability check, the character has disadvantage on the check.
Success At A Cost
Failure can be tough, but the agony is compounded when a character fails by the barest margin. When a character fails a roll by 5 or less, you can allow the character to succeed at the cost of a complication or hindrance. Such a complication can run along any of the following lines:
- A character manages to get her sword past the hobgoblin’s defenses and turn a near miss into a hit, but the hobgoblin twists its shield and disarms her.
- A character narrowly escapes the full brunt of a fireball but ends up prone.
- A character fails to intimidate a kobold prisoner, but the kobold reveals its secrets anyway while shrieking at the top of its lungs, alerting other nearby monsters.
- A character manages to finish an arduous climb to the top of a cliff despite slipping, only to realize that the rope on which his companions dangle below him is close to breaking.
It is up to the player to determine if they want to succeed with cost, then the DM will determine the cost.
Alignment is a general descriptor of how a creature is likely to behave. Thus when you generalize about halflings you can expect that most of them are good natured and lawful in outlook. Similarly, when you generalize about orcs you know that they are evil and care nothing for the orderly trappings of society. However, these are merely generalizations and any individual creature may or may not prove the exception to the rule. There are therefore good orcs and evil unicorns, just not very many.
The exception to this generalization is when you are referring to denizens of the outer planes that are created from the stuff of good or evil. These creatures are actually and truly good or evil and cannot be anything but. If they were to somehow be something else, they would cease to be what they are. An angel who is good by its very nature, that became evil, would cease to be an angel and would be something else. Similarly, a devil, evil by nature, that somehow became good, would no longer be a devil. There are no evil angels or good devils.
Prone works as stated with the following addition. When prone you can use your bonus action to steady your aim and negate the disadvantage penalty with your next ranged attack.
Personal Characteristics: Ideals, Flaws, Bonds, Inspiration
We will be using the Player Awarded Inspiration variant. Under this variant the players are the ones primarily responsible for keeping track of and handing out Inspiration. During every session, each player can award inspiration to another player. A player follows whatever guidelines we all agree on for awarding inspiration. I suggest we start with the basic guidelines from the PH.
Optionally, a player can grant inspiration more than once in a session…however…If you do so, the first time you do so in a session it is free. Whenever that player awards inspiration later in that session, the DM gains inspiration that he can spend to give advantage to any foe of the player characters. There is no limit to the number of inspiration points that the DM can gain and unspent inspiration carries over from one session to the next.
Additionally, a character can gain an inspiration point for an act of heroism regardless of personal characteristics. This is to encourage a good, heroic themed campaign.
Furthermore, unless a character is acting towards one of their personal characteristics, they will lose their existing inspiration, if they have any, if they behave in an explicitly anti-heroic manner (not to be confused with non-heroic). This will largely be handled by the GM, but is up for discussion by the table if there is a consensus that the action is not suitably anti-heroic.
When a player is missing we will have them stay at the inn/guard the horses if convenient. However if in a dungeon or other place where it isn’t convenient then we will use the “shadow character” option that we used last campaign.
Shadow characters are with the party during the adventure, but fade into the background for most of the time. However, at any time another player can have the shadow character say/do something that is in character for that individual. During combat another player can have the shadow character use their at-will attack. They take no damage, but if one of the characters present takes a killing blow the shadow character is instead knocked unconscious for the rest of the session. Healing magic can bring them back to walking/talking functionality as normal.
Magic Is Dangerous
There is a reason that the average person distrusts magic–magic is dangerous. As it happens, most villains and most adventurers disregard this danger, though for different reasons. The villains disregard it because they are self-centered and uncaring of the consequences. The adventurers disregard the danger because they are filled with hubris.
What makes magic dangerous? This varies by individual of course and by the source of magic. But at its heart is that sometimes it just goes wrong and can’t be trusted.
Additionally, when casting rituals, there is a 1% chance per level of the ritual that there will be a mishap. If there is a mishap, roll on the following table.
|1||Barrier between the worlds thins and something comes through. Roll (d6-3) and add this to the average level of the party. A random monster of this CR steps through the veil between worlds confused and angry at being disturbed. If the ritual is being cast during an encounter, the creature appears 1d3 rounds after the encounter starts.|
|2||Barrier between the worlds thins and 1d6 hours later an elemental appears and goes on a rampage for 1d6 hours before returning to its own plane.|
|3||Barrier between the worlds thins and 1d100 minutes later a demon of CR 1d20 appears and does whatever it feels like for 1d20 hours before it returns to its own plane. If there is a body nearby it may possess it in which case it can extend its time in the material plane by a factor of 10.|
|4||A surge of magical energy appears striking 1d4 random creatures within 100′ of the magic user (as well as possibly the magic user) causing 1d10 dice of damage of the following type (roll 1d8):
1 fire d8s
2 cold d10s
3 acid d6s
4 poison d4s
5 necrotic d6s
6 radiant d4s
7 lightning d10s
8 thunder d8s
|5||Magic drains from the area creating an anti-magic zone of radius 50′ + 5d10′ centered on the magic user (does not move with the caster). The zone lasts for 2d6 days (if either die roll is a 6 continue rolling and add to the total duration).|
|6||A random spell effect takes effect of a similar power level to an effect that should have taken effect. For example, when a spell caster tries to cast comprehend languages instead some other 1st level effect goes off (not necessarily a ritual effect); the new effect could also be a lower level spell that manifests at a higher level spell level equal to the rituals power level (so if a 6th level forbiddance ritual went wrong, it might manifest as a 6th level magic missile and blast people in the area or heal someone nearby just as likely).|
The following items may see play, we’ll see:
If a creature is attacked from surprise the attacker can attempt to knock them out. After successfully making an attack with surprise, the attacker can attempt to knock out the opponent. The opponent must make a DC 10 Con save. The save is adjusted up or down based on the difference in level/HD of the opponents (thus if a 3rd level character attacked at 5th level character the DC would be 8; or if an 8 HD monster attacked a 4th level character the DC would be a 14, etc.). A failed save indicates the creature is unconscious, usually for the rest of the encounter (though occasionally a creature might wake up if it has special recuperative powers, a companion aides it, etc.). If the attacker has multiple attacks or the defender is vulnerable to the attack then the save is at disadvantage. If the defender is resistant to the attack then the save is at advantage.
We’re not trying to make you waste your spells. When you want to cast a spell like Power Word that targets enemies beneath a certain hit point threshold, the GM should tell you whether you have a legal target. However, you can’t use this to metagame information that your character wouldn’t know (e.g. you can say you are casting Charm Person on something to see if it is a humanoid when you are trying to determine if it is really a vampire in disguise…you still cast the spell in that case and it gets wasted).
There will be altered spells. We’ll discover those as we play.