Return of the Tyrant
All ability scores start at 8. The player then has 30 points to distribute as they see fit amongst the six abilities. A character cannot exceed 18 in any category (although racial adjustments may put you over). You may subtract points from the starting score of 8 in any category to add points to your pool if you wish.
We use 1d20 ability check rolls for many non-combat tasks. (Example: roll lower than or equal to your Constitution ability score to succeed at a drinking contest.)
Description: Humans of Volkstadt are typically of fair skin and dark hair, but players may select any skin color, body type, facial features, et al.
Bonuses: +1 to any ability score of the player’s choosing; 2 bonus proficiency slots (weapon or non-weapon)
Description: Humans with trace amounts of the diabolical in their blood. While at first glance appearing human, they often have telltale signs that belie their ancestry (dusky skin or dark/reddish hair; small horns, cat eyes, etc). Most tieflings try to hide their abnormalities from humans.
Bonuses: infravision 60 ft, +2 to INT, 5% resistances to Cold, Fire, and Electrical damage, able to cast ‘Blindness’ 1/day
Disadvantages: -2 to CHA
Description: Characters with a mix of human and elven blood. They are usually taller than a human but shorter than an elf. While they may inherit the delicate features of their elvish parent, their skin color is dictated by their human side. The ears of a half-elf may be pointed, but are usually less prominent than a full blooded elf.
Bonuses: 30% resistance to sleep and charm magic, infravision 60 ft
Description: Other races commonly describe dwarves as short, stocky, taciturn, dour, and eternally drunk, although not all PC’s need adhere to these standards should they select a dwarf. Dwarves in the northern lands are most often from the undermountain kingdom of Khet-Myram, though surface born dwarves are possible in bigger towns.
Bonuses: +1 to CON, +1 to attack rolls versus orc/goblinkind, -4 to AC versus giantkind, infravision 90 ft, +1 to poison saving throws, +1 to spell saving throws
Disadvantages: -1 to CHA
Duergar (Gray Dwarf)
Description: Duergar are very similar in appearance to typical mountain dwarves, save for their pale gray skin, fair hair, and bright colored eyes. They are somewhat rare on the surface world, with the majority of their kind remaining in underground warrens and cities. Those who do venture to the surface often make shrewd merchants or businessmen, although duergar skilled with a blade or axe can make a good living through mercenary work. Depending on the season or political climate, the duergar may be in league with the drow or against them. They maintain an intense dislike of the svirfneblin.
Bonuses: +2 to CON, +2 to poison saving throws, +2 to spell saving throws, -4 to AC versus giantkind, cast Invisibility 1/day, 60% resistance to paralyze magic
Disadvantages: -4 to CHA, ‘Day Blindness’ (-2 to attack, damage, and saving throws when outside during the day)
Description: The gnomes can be found in many different places all over the realm – from burrows beneath wooded hills to the sides of riverbanks to the heart of any major city. They are highly adaptable people, tolerant of all races, religions, etc. Their kinship with animals rivals that of the elves. Gnomes are typically shorter than dwarves, but their most distinctive physical feature is their large, round noses. Having a giant schnozz is a point of pride in gnomish culture.
Bonuses: +1 to INT, +1 to spell saving throws, infravision 60 ft, -4 to AC versus large creatures, +1 to attack rolls versus kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears, Speak With Animals 1x/day
Disadvantages: -1 to WIS
Svirfneblin (Deep Gnome)
Description: Usually only found underground, the reclusive svirfneblin look very much like their surface cousin gnomes – short with exaggerated facial features – save for their skin tone, which ranges from pale gray to a stone brown color. The svirfneblin are an historically mistreated race, used as slave labor for centuries by both the duergar and the drow. The duergar in particular are considered the eternal enemies of the deep gnomes, for it was at the hands of the gray dwarves that their people were first indentured. Adventuring svirfneblin are often escaped slaves trying to move away from their past or raise enough money to buy the freedom of their people.
Bonuses: +2 to DEX, +2 to WIS, +1 to attack rolls versus kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears, +1 to spell saving throws, Invisibility 1/day, Blur 1/day, Mirror Image 1/day, infravision 90 ft
Disadvantages: -2 to STR, -4 to CHA, ‘Day Blindness’ (-2 to attack, damage, and saving throws when outside during the day)
Description: Halflings are somewhat rare in the northern lands, although a few of the easygoing wee folk can be found below the knees or in the shadows of humankind in the city of Amaranth. Others have given in to their insatiable curiosity and wanderlust and roam the land looking for adventure. Halflings are only about 3 feet tall. In rare instances, a halfling can grow up to 4 feet, although this usually leads to hushed whispers of human blood in their veins. Halflings are mostly of lean build with slightly pointed ears and tufts of coarse hair on their calloused feet.
Bonuses: +1 to DEX, +1 to all saving throws, +1 to attack rolls when using thrown weapons or slings, infravision 30 ft
Disadvantages: -1 to STR
Elf (Moon Elf)
Description: The moon elves are the most common type of elf found in the land. Tall, graceful, fragile, and sleek – they are often seen as ‘the beautiful people’ by other races (except for the dwarves, who cannot stand the flighty nature of fey peoples). Their skin sometimes takes on an icy blue hue, their hair a black, blue, or silvery white, and their eyes green or blue with occasional specks of gold. Moon elves are traditionally nomadic folk, although many have managed to settle in Thorn, the city of elves located deep within the Moonwood.
Bonuses: +1 to DEX, 90% resistance to sleep and charm magic, immune to ghoul touch, +1 to attack rolls when using a bow, infravision 120 ft
Disadvantages: -1 to CON
Wood Elf (Sylvan Elf)
Description: Wood elves are slightly shorter yet more muscular than the moon elves. Their skin takes on a coppery brown hue at times; their eyes a dark brown or hazel color. Wood elves keep to the woodlands where they feel most at home, though occasionally great quests or extreme wanderlust will take them away from their homes among the trees. In Volkstadt, many wood elves live alongside their moon elf cousins in the city of Thorn.
Bonuses: +2 to DEX, 90% resistance to sleep and charm magic, +1 to attack rolls when using a bow, infravision 90 ft, Speak With Animals 1x/day
Disadvantages: -2 to INT
Drow Elf (Dark Elves)
Description: A great many drow elves hail from Khazid-Hirn, the great metropolis of the Underdark in the southlands, but many smaller enclaves or settlements may exist under the surface. For the most part, drow are an evil race, with involvements in slavery, murder, war, and more. Adventuring drow are rare, and when they do appear, they are smart enough to keep a low profile. Appearance-wise, drow have skin colors to match the dark caverns they were born in – black, gray, dark blue, or occasionally violet. Their hair color is usually white or silver.
Bonuses: +1 to DEX, +1 to INT, +2 to CHA, immunity to sleep magic, 90% resistance to charm magic, +2 to spell saving throws, +1 to rod/staff/wand saving throws, Faerie Fire 3x/day
Disadvantages: -2 to CON, ‘Day Blindness’ (-2 to attack, damage, and saving throws when outside during the day)
Description: The bastard offspring of human and orcs. Half-orcs often have a greenish, gray, or brown pigment, in addition to select features passed down from the orcish parent (usually a sloping forehead, jutting jaw, coarse body hair, pig-like snout, or prominent ‘tusk’ canine teeth).
Bonuses: +2 to STR, infravision 60 ft, +2 to poison saving throws
Disadvantages: -1 to INT, -2 to CHA
Description: This somewhat disturbing hybrid comes from the union of ogre and human parents. They average 7–8’ tall, have ruddy complexions, dark hair, and dark eyes. They look like huge, ugly humans.
Bonuses: +3 to STR, infravision 30 ft, ‘Tough Hide’ (natural AC of 8), +1 to poison saving throws
Disadvantages: -2 to INT, -3 to CHA, Half-ogres also qualify as ‘Large’ type creatures and suffer more damage from many weapons. Also, certain smaller races enjoy combat bonuses against them.
-Begin at 1st level with max HP for your starting class.
-Racial restrictions: gone. Play a dwarven mage or a gnome bard if you so desire. The ONLY exception to this are certain types of specialty priests (see the Pantheon for more info).
-Multi-classing: is done away with. No racial restrictions on dual classes make this a moot character option.
-Dual-classing: allowed AFTER 2nd level for any race; must meet the prime requisite requirements for the class you wish to dual in.
List of available classes:
- - All clerics are treated as ‘priests of a specific mythoi’. See the Pantheon section for more information on the gods and goddesses.
Bard kits – Blade, Jester, Skald
Druid kits – Avenger, Outlaw, Shapeshifter, Totemic Druid, Wanderer
Fighter kits – Berserker, Peasant Hero, Wilderness Warrior
Paladin kits – Chevalier, Ghosthunter, Inquisitor
Ranger kits – Archer, Beastmaster, Explorer, Mountain Man, Stalker, Warden
Barbarian kits – Wizardslayer
Thief kits – Assassin, Bounty Hunter, Buccaneer, Burglar, Spy, Thug, Troubleshooter
Wizard kits – Academician, Witch
Other kits are available upon request. Obviously kits that are out of sync with the flavor of the campaign (Masque of the Red Death kits, Gladiator kits, etc) are disallowed. If there’s some niche kit that isn’t covered and you want to try it (anti-paladin, blood mage, etc), we’ll talk about it.
Certain nonweapon proficiencies that fall under the purview of combat-related have now been moved to the weapon proficiency section. These include…
-Ambidexterity (costs 1 slot; used as per the CFHB).
-Blind-Fighting (costs 1 slot; available to warrior classes and rogues).
-Tumbling (costs 1 slot; available to warrior classes and rogues).
The rest of the weapon proficiencies available are lumped together in groups (ala 3rd edition style). Each group costs 1 proficiency slot. Only single-classed fighters can specialize (put additional slots into the same proficiency for attack bonuses).
-Bows (longbow, shortbow, etc)
-Crossbows (heavy, light, hand, etc)
-Small blades (dagger, short sword, etc)
-Large swords (long sword, scimitar, etc)
-Great swords (two handed sword, etc)
-Polearms (halberd, lance, spear, etc)
-Axes (battle axe, hand axe, etc)
-Missile weapons (darts, slings, etc)
-Maces (mace, morningstar, flail, etc)
-Hammers (warhammer, great hammer, etc)
-Quarterstaff (staves, clubs, etc)
-Exotic weapons (whip, bastard sword, shuriken, scythe, etc)
-Unarmed combat (martial arts, wrestling, etc)
1st level weapon proficiency slots by classes:
Warrior classes: 4 (1 additional every 3 levels)
Rogue classes: 2 (1 additional every 4 levels)
Priest classes: 2 (1 additional every 4 levels)
Mage classes: 1 (1 additional every 6 levels)
A non-trained character can use any weapon, but at a -4 penalty. (The exception being clerics, who may be forbidden to use certain types of weapons by their order.)
The ‘Number of Languages’ subcategory from your base Intelligence score has been supplanted by Number of Bonus Nonweapon Proficiencies. These bonus slots can be used for either a language or nonweapon proficiency. Single class warriors can also use these bonus proficiencies as weapon proficiency slots.
Most of the class-exclusive NWPs have been moved to an all-encompasing ‘general’ section to allow greater customization of your character. (Who says you can’t have a warrior that’s into poetry and ancient history or a cleric who knows how to play games of chance?) There are still a few that remain linked to a particular class. They are purchasable by outside classes by spending an extra NWP point.
A few NWPs have been removed altogether. Fire-building. Every hero knows how to build a fire, dammit. A few have been added (mostly stuff from the class/race handbooks).
Negative check modifiers are gone. You’re heroes. You should have a decent chance at success. (I mean, why is there a default -1 to Bowyer/Fletcher anyway?) If you’re unskilled and you want to attempt something, you can make a check at half of your ability score. (EX: You don’t have the direction sense proficiency, but you’re lost and you want to give it a shot anyway. Your WIS score is 14. You would make a d20 check and hope to roll 7 or lower.) Round up for odd numbers. (11 = 6, etc).
You may choose to insert additional slots into an already learned NWP to give yourself a +1 bonus for each point spent.
All characters begin being able to speak Common and their native racial language (if applicable).
1st level non-weapon proficiency slots by classes:
Warrior classes: 4 (1 additional every 3 levels)
Rogue classes: 5 (1 additional every 3 levels)
Priest classes: 5 (1 additional every 3 levels)
Mage classes: 6 (1 additional every 3 levels)
(skill name, # of slots required, governing ability check)
Acting, 1, CHA
Agriculture, 1, INT
Ancient History, 1, INT
Animal Handling, 1, WIS
Animal Lore, 1, INT
Animal Training, 1, WIS
Appraising, 1, INT
Armorer, 2, INT
Artistic Ability (pick one), 1, WIS
Astrology, 2, INT
Athletics, 1, DEX
Begging, 1, CHA
Blacksmithing, 1, STR
Bowyer/Fletcher, 1, DEX
Brewing, 1, INT
Calligraphy, 2, DEX
Carpentry, 1, STR
Cartography, 1, INT
Charioteering, 1, DEX
Cobbling, 1, DEX
Cooking, 1, INT
Dancing, 1, DEX
Debate, 1, INT
Direction Sense, 1, WIS
Disguise, 1, CHA
Drinking, 1, CON
Eating, 1, CON
Engineering, 2, INT
Etiquette, 1, CHA
First Aid, 2, WIS
Fishing, 1, WIS
Forgery, 1, DEX
Gaming, 1, CHA
Gem Cutting, 2, DEX
Geography, 2, INT
Haggling, 2, WIS
Heraldry, 1, INT
Herbalism, 2, INT
Hunting, 1, WIS
Juggling, 1, DEX
Jumping, 1, STR
Languages, Ancient, 1, INT
Language, Modern (pick one), 1, INT
Law, 1, INT
Leatherworking, 1, INT
Local History, 1, CHA
Looting, 1, DEX
Mercantile, 1, WIS
Mining, 2, WIS
Mountaineering, 2, WIS
Musical Instrument (pick one), 1, DEX
Navigation, 1, INT
Persuasion, 1, CHA
Pottery, 1, DEX
Reading/Writing, 1, INT
Religion, 1, INT
Riding, Airborne, 2, WIS
Riding, Land-based, 1, WIS
Seamanship, 1, DEX
Seamstress/Tailor, 1, DEX
Set Snares, 1, DEX
Singing, 1, CHA
Stonemasonry, 1, STR
Survival (choose environment), 2, INT
Swimming, 1, STR
Tattooing, 1, DEX
Tightrope Walking, 1, DEX
Toxicology, 2, INT
Tracking, 2, WIS
Ventriloquism, 1, CHA
Weaponsmithing, 3, INT
Weather Sense, 1, WIS
Weaving, 1, INT
Winemaking, 1, INT
Alchemy, 2, INT
Cryptozoology (Monster Lore), 2, INT
Demonology, 3, INT
Occultism, 1, INT
Spellcraft, 1, INT
Undead Lore, 1, INT
Fast-Talking, 1, CHA
Intimidation*, 1, CHA
Reading Lips, 2, INT
Camouflage, 1, WIS
Intimidation*, 1, STR
Light Sleeping, 1, CON
*- same proficiency, different means of attempting it depending on class. If an outside class wishes to buy this proficiency, pick either the rogue or warrior version.
-Max starting gold for class as per PHB (or for your kit if you choose one).
-Encumbrance will not be strictly enforced, but will be monitored casually. Just use common sense. A character with a STR score of 7 isn’t going to be carrying around 2 long swords, a battle axe, a large treasure chest, 29 torches, and a full keg of ale.
-The biggest change for any spellcasting class is the use of spell points as opposed to the traditional Vancian magic spell selection of AD&D. Instead of ‘pre-loading’ your spells for the day, the caster has his/her entire repertoire at their disposal. The spellcasting PC is only limited by their allotted spells per level. EX: Celeste, a 2nd level mage, is allotted two 1st level spells per day. Her spellbook includes Detect Magic, Feather Fall, Magic Missile, and Read Magic. Earlier in the day, Celeste and her party engage in combat with a group of bugbears, during which Celeste uses a Magic Missile spell. Later, the party crosses an old bridge over a rocky precipice. Celeste decides to cast Feather Fall on herself, just in case the rickety bridge gives way. Her spell allotment used up for the day, Celeste will have to rest before regaining her two 1st level spells.
Note that the caster is allowed to double, triple, or quadruple up on a particular spell if they so desire (and provided their level allows that many spells per level). If Celeste wanted to cast Feather Fall twice that day, she could have.
This system applies to all casters, not just mages (clerics, bards, rangers, paladins, et al). We have tested it extensively through a number of sessions and found the system to be a more fulfilling option for spellcasters, giving them more flexibility and versatility. (In addition to preventing the age-old problem of mages loading down on nothing but Magic Missile spells and clerics loading down on nothing but Cure Light Wounds).
We don’t. Or rather, we will assume your wizard already has the required components gathered. Many of them are mundane items anyway. The only exceptions to this are spells that demand a component for the end result (ala ‘Magic Jar’, etc).
-A saving throw for sleep spells is now being used. (Save vs. spells).
A mage can wear armor if desired, but at his/her own risk. The more heavily armed the character is, the greater the risk of a spell failure. The same rate of spell failure applies to bards/specialist wizards too.
-Arcane casting failures for mages/bards wearing armor
(Armor type, % of spell failure)
Ring mail, 25%
Studded leather, 25%
Scale mail, 40%
Chain mail, 55%
Splint mail, 60%
Banded mail, 65%
Bronze plate mail, 75%
Plate mail, 85%
Field plate, 90%
Full plate mail, 95%
-XP is awarded for monsters slain, major treasures recovered (magical items, not simply gold pieces), quest goals achieved, brilliant/clever/interesting ideas (even if they don’t pan out, I appreciate players who like to think outside the box), and character development. XP lump sum awards are divided among party members present.
-Hirelings/henchman get 1/2 XP.
Combat will be greatly simplified (ala B/X D&D style).
-THAC0 remains unchanged. It’s simple math like ascending style D&D iterations, just going the opposite direction.
-Initiative is 1d10, lowest goes first. For large groups of combatants group initiative may be used.
-Weapon speeds/casting times are out. We’re going for quick, narrative-driven combat here, not wargaming.
-Hovering on Death’s Door optional rule is being used (0 HP = unconscious, -10 = dead).
-Critical hit = a natural 20. You automatically inflict double damage dice.
-Fumble = a roll of 1. You have dropped your weapon and must draw another weapon to fight with, fight unarmed, or spend 1 round recovering your dropped weapon.
-The thief skills of Detect Illusion and Escape Bonds have been added to the traditional eight skills.
-All skills start at 0%. The thief PC then has 180 points to spend on skills. No skill may be above 70% at 1st level. NOTE: This is to be decided by the player BEFORE making racial, DEX, and/or armor adjustments.
-As per the PHB, thieves receive 30 discretionary points per level (bar some kits, like the assassin, which only receives 20 points).
-Once a thief reaches 90% in a particular ability, for every point ABOVE 90%, it costs 10 discretionary points. Thus, if Wren the 6th level thief is at 90% in Open Locks and earns enough experience to reach 7th level, it would cost him 30 discretionary points to reach 93%.
-When rolling for new hit points, the player is granted a reroll if a 1 or a 2 is rolled.