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Skills
Technology is an additional option for characters with appropriate backgrounds (a member of the Shuul or a Grailwarden dwarf) or class choices (such as clerics of a technology god). I am not going to be overly picky in who I let choose it, but you do need to give me some sort of reason. Most wizards won't have it - why would they, when they can achieve the same outcome with a word and a wave of the hand?

Simultaneous Actions
In initiative, if there is a tie, all actions happen at once. This does mean you could kill an enemy in the same instant they kill you.

Inspiration
I like the general concept of inspiration in 5e, but not the execution. So I am going to use my take on something I found online - Inspired Action cards (though I am gonna HATE making the deck for this for the Roll20 game...). Basically you will have a card you can play at different times (some are social, some are combat, some are movement, etc.) that will let you have a dramatic impact on the scene. You can have up to three at any given time. You will automatically get one when you level, and can gain others thru solid roleplay and imaginitive combat participation.

When you gain a card, you roll 1d10 and draw from the appropriate deck: Copper (1-4) - Silver(5-7) - Gold (8-9) - Platinum levels (10). Cards are pretty much in beta-testing, so I do reserve the right to change the effect (while staying with the spirit of the card's name).

These seem to be working out in the test game, so I hope to implement them soon in all my games.

Rests
To encourage the use of rests, I am changing the times to the following:
Short Rests # Long Rests
15 min 1 8 hours
30 min 2 12 hours
1 hour 3 16 hours
2 hours 4 24 hours

 

Death Saves and Battle Fatigue
If you are brought to 0 hit points and are raised back to consciousness by gaining hit points, you gain 1 level of exhaustion. Also, your death saving throw failures remain, going away 1 at a time at the start of each of your turns that you remain conscious. This prevents players from exploiting the unrealistic fighting method of rushing a heavy character in and then healing them each round that they get felled by a bunch of enemies without any impact on the character’s ability to fight.

Rolls for Death Saves are also done “behind the DM’s screen” and players have to keep poker faces – remember even a successful save, unless it is the third one, means you are still in grave danger, and other characters would rarely know where you are at in the actual act of dying. Someone trained in Medicine who is actively examining the character (as in taking their action to do so, and physically checking the fallen character out) can roll to see if they know the success/failure numbers, and may share that knowledge as they wish. This way it makes a character going down a more tense “what should we do” situation – save the character or take out the BBEG,

Last Stand
When an allied player character (or an NPC the characters care about – DM’s call if you have shown you do or not, so ROLEPLAY!) dies in battle, all concerned allies who can see them when they die get advantage on the next attack roll, saving throw, or ability check they make before the end of their next turn.

Passive Knowledge
Each character has 10+your skill modifier in Arcana, History, Medicine, Nature, and Religion as your passive knowledge score in those skills. A character may attempt an active check to recall more information only if they are trained in that skill or if their character would have a clear reason to have more information (for instance: history pertaining to their own home region or religious lore about a deity they serve). This avoids six players making history checks to see if they've heard of some obscure event and just hoping to roll a natural 20, and assumes a druid with a passive nature score of 18 would easily recognize a common beast and know about its hunting tactics without risking rolling a "1" on a check. Active checks are still used for other applications of these skills (for instance: arcana checks to disarm a magical ward). No more than two players can roll a given Knowledge check (with an assistant each), unless circumstances change or dictate otherwise.

Note that a character’s backstory can preclude having a given passive score (raised in a culture that forbids religion of any kind, or a character who dismisses magic as useless, for example). That would be discussed at character creation.

Alcohol
Since this has come up multiple times now in a few of my games, here are the rules I am using for getting drunk.

There are 5 mugs of ale or mead to a gallon, and 6 glasses of wine to a bottle.

You can drink a number of mugs’ or glasses’ worth of alcohol equal to your Constitution modifier before you begin to feel tipsy. For each drink after that, you must make a Constitution saving throw against poison with a difficulty of 15 + the number of drinks you’ve consumed total. On a failure, you gain 1 level of drunkenness (see below). After each hour passes, you recover 1 level of drunkenness, and the number of drinks you have drunk is considered to be 1 fewer.

Drunkenness Levels (Effects are cumulative)
1 - Disadvantage on Dexterity, Wisdom, and Intelligence ability checks, saving throws, and attack rolls.
2 - Disadvantage on all other ability checks and saving throws.
3 - Your movement speed is halved; if you move any farther than this speed in one turn, you fall prone at the end of your movement. You cannot Dash. Standing up costs all your movement.
4 - You vomit, and then fall unconscious for 1d4 hours.

Maximum Ability Scores
Maximum ability scores are set to 20 + any Racial bonus. This merely reflects that Halflings should always have a slightly higher max Dex from other races, Half Elves are always more Charismatic, Dwarves have higher Con, Half Orcs are usually stronger, etc. Feats and ASI will not increase past this number, but magic items can per usual if described as such.

Changing Cantrips
Wizards/Clerics/Druids can swap out Cantrips on a long rest, but they can't have more than their normally allowed memorized. Extra cantrips can be found via scrolls or prayer for divine classes.

Bards/Sorcerers/Warlocks/Arcane Tricksters/Eldritch Knights can swap out cantrips on level ups only due to their spontaneous casting. They can change up to their casting modifier each level.

Crafting
We use the Xanathar's Crafting Rules (p78) of gaining advantage on crafting when a player has proficiency in a similar skill, and vice-verse when it applies. For single use items, the character needs to make one Arcana check and one Tool Proficiency check with a related set of tools. For permanent items, you must succeed on one check each per week.

Gathering Materials:
To find and collect appropriate special materials for crafting items, the following guidelines will apply:

Level DC Encountered
Common  DC 5  (CR 1-3)
Uncommon  DC 10  (CR 4-8)
Rare  DC 15  (CR 9-12)
Very Rare  DC 20  (CR 13-18)
Legendary  DC 25  (CR 19-24)
Artifact  DC 30  (CR 25+)

For example, if players kill a Frost Giant, they might try to bottle the blood to be used in Cold Resistance potions, Cold Damage traps or weapons, etc. A Frost Giant is CR8, so based on the info below, it would be a DC10 Medicine check to gather the blood (with advantage if they have a Healers' Kit). On success, the player would have 1d6 vials of Uncommon "Cold" crafting materials for later use (exact quantities gathered are at DM discretion).

In the table below, Total Time and Cost are for single use items, poisons, potions, and scrolls. For permanent items, turn the Long Rests into the number of Weeks and multiply the cost by x5. Special ingredients (see abpve_ can reduce the cost dramatically, based on the rarity of the substance and its appropriateness to the item being crafted (divided by half for each of the component’s level above the item’s rarity – meaning a Rare item being made using an Artifact level ingredient would cost only 1/8 the gold, to a minimum of 1gp per Spell Level). This cost is in addition to the item’s base cost, which is always triple the listed PHB cost, reflecting the quality needed to hold an enchantment, as well as the spell components for any needed spells.

Single Use Items (1 Arcana and 1 Tool Prof Check to make)

Quality

DC

Total Time to Craft

Caster Level

Dmg

Bonus

Spell Level

Craft Cost

Common

5

1x Short Rest

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

1gp (if any)

Uncommon

10

1x Long Rest

1st

Up to 1d6

0

1st , 2nd

25gp / level

Rare

15

2x Long Rests

5th

Up to 2d6

1

3rd , 4th

100gp / level

Very Rare

20

3x Long Rests

9th

Up to 3d6

2

5th , 6th

200gp / level

Legendary

25

4x Long Rests

13th

Up to 4d6

3

7th , 8th

400gp / level

Artifact

30

5x Long Rests

17th

Up to 5d6

4

9th

800gp / level

 

Permanent Items (1 Arcana and 1 Tool Prof Check per week to make)

Quality

DC

Total Time to Craft

Caster Level

Dmg

Bonus

Spell Level

Craft Cost

Common

5

1 day

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

5gp

Uncommon

10

1 week

1st

Up to 1d6

0

1st , 2nd

125gp/lvl

Rare

15

2 weeks

5th

Up to 2d6

1

3rd , 4th

500gp/lvl

Very Rare

20

3 weeks

9th

Up to 3d6

2

5th , 6th

1000gp/lvl

Legendary

25

4 weeks

13th

Up to 4d6

3

7th , 8th

2000gp/lvl

Artifact

30

5 weeks

17th

Up to 5d6

4

9th

4000gp/lvl


Intelligence and Proficiencies
For each permanent odd positive Int bonus increment (1, 3, 5 etc.) you gain proficiency in a new skill, tool, or language at the corresponding level. If you gain this during play (as opposed to at character creation), you must spend a level learning the new talent before gaining the benefit (this DOES apply to increases from leveling).

Perception in Combat
Each player (If they want) can make one 'free' perception check on something: their enemy, the environment, etc. If they roll well enough on this, I'll give them a bit of insight into something useful. This could range from how hurt an enemy looks, or any weakness it might visibly have, to noticing a precariously placed boulder above the dragon's head. It will not allow for complex details – for that, you will still need to take a full action.

Critical Rolls on Initiative
If anyone rolls a 20 or an 1 on initiative, they get advantage/disadvantage on their first action in that round.