Backgrounds for the Doomed – Dark Sci-Fi backgrounds for 5E

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Across the wastelands and into the mega-cities, all sorts of people dwell in truly dark places.  Many fall to corruption, whether from inside of or outside of its “protective” walls.  Many adventurous folk are not merely content with a mediocre life as a drone or even the life of a delivery courier.  While the latter explores the world outside, they are still tethered to a track, lest they quickly find themselves in over their head.  The rest who make their way across the strange and bleak world?  Thrill seekers, mercenaries, civilians on a vital but deadly mission, absolute maniacs!  But, haven’t adventurers always been this way?

Author’s Note: Yes, I know my RPG Blog Carnival is done.  But, I’m still quite inspired!  With that, here’s a couple of new backgrounds and how to incorporate them into a more average fantasy setting… and not so average settings.  Dark Sun, Ravenloft and other darker worlds might make for good fits.

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DM’s Guild – A Planar Grimoire

Planar Grimoire Cover Image

Pardon the somewhat inconsistency in my posts.  I’ve been trying to revise old work while work on some personal projects I hoped to get out on the web (like this one), while balancing a stressful work life and home life.  But I digress, I was never too happy with my original planar spells posts.  Some were blatant rip-offs of previously existing D&D spells, while others were just poorly worded.  So, I did a fair bit of clean up while making some other not-so-subtle homages!  But, no matter, here’s over 15 pages of extraplanar goodness for your 5E Spellcasters!  Enjoy.

A Planar Grimoire is Pay-What-You-Want, you may find it here.

Strange Things in Bloodied Wyvern Peak Adventure Report: Part 2 & 3

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“THEY ARE AMONG US!”

At long last, the players are ready to embark into the mountains ahead, unsure of what strange things await them within the jagged lands beyond.  What dangers will they face?  Will their ranks thin?  Will some go mad?  Will they awaken new horrors upon the land?  Only time will tell!

Author’s Note: Due to a handful of things, part 2 was cut very short.  As such, I decided to merge the recap with part 3.  Stay tuned for more after the jump!

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Grittier Magicks: Alternatives to Cantrip Rules

Abusing cantrips can be taxing on the mind!

While house-ruling the game to fit higher/epic fantasy games seems pretty simple (lift restrictions on magic items, utilize cantrips RAW, modify crafting to be less toilsome), lower fantasy seems to be a bit more of a challenge.  Before I accidentally cause backlash, I find cantrips to be a neat idea and realize their intent is balancing out caster classes for the newest edition.  No matter, I pondered ideas on modifying cantrip casting in an effort to make classes fit other narratives, genres, and gaming styles.  Of course, I thought of alternatives that are hopefully pretty balanced against cantrips themselves.  Plus, I’ve been curious on how to merge OSR-inspired mechanics and concepts into more modern gaming such as D&D 5e.  As a result of that thought experiment, here are some ideas to replace the cantrips mechanic.  All of these replace the rules for cantrips as written.

  • Basic Idea – Choose one of the following below.  Unless an ability below says otherwise, you may cast Cantrips as many times as your casting stat + 1 before taking a short rest.  (If you feel proficiency bonus is more appropriate than caster stat, replace it with that instead.)

Exploiting Resources – You may safely cast Cantrips as many times as your level + your casting stat mod per long rest.  Upon casting cantrips after this, you must make a saving throw (DC 12 + 1 for every successful save) using your casting stat for the saving throw.  Failure results in losing your action for that round. This modules allows for at-will casting, but at a potentially dangerous price.

In addition, the DM can choose one of the following options.

  • You may not use cantrips again until you take a short rest.
  • Depending on the severity of the failed save, the character suffers from a level of the Madness condition.
  • Failure could result in arcane corruption akin to 3rd Edition’s “Tainted” mechanics.  This will be covered at a later time.

AD&D Style – Instead of the short rest mechanc, you gain 1 extra Lv. 1 spell slot.  In addition you always know the spell “cantrip” (or “orison” for divine characters.)  This spell lasts for 1 hour and replicates the effects of any cantrip spell from your appropriate class list.  However, you only gain the benefit of one of those cantrips at a time, unless an ability states otherwise.

Imbuing Power – You’re able to form magic into a minor weapon of some sort as an action, using your caster stat for attacks (e.g. A shard of ice dealing d4 + caster cold damage, a small flame on a staff dealing d4 fire + caster damage, or the like).  You can only have 1 minor magical weapon at a time, each lasts for 1 minute.  You may do this as many times as your caster stat before taking a short rest.

Battle Knowledge – Weapons you’re proficient with can use your casting stat instead of their regular stat for attack/damage.

Slot-Like Cantrips – You can cast each 3 times before taking a short rest; also, you can sacrifice 1 cantrip to cast another more times.

Arcane Scholar – You may use Detect Magic as a class ability as many times as your proficiency bonus + 1 per Long Rest; Also, the Read Magic cantrip is rolled into the Arcana (or possibly Religion) skill.

These house rules are very volatile, as they haven’t been tested.  If you try them, let me know what happens!  Also, I’m always open to feedback in general.

Image Source: Xzar by Myrskyt

On The Hunt: Alternate Favored Enemy

I enjoy the ranger’s new take on favored enemy, but still want the flavor of older versions.  So, I propose this house rule for variant favored enemies.  While I ready myself for the week ahead, here’s a home rule to alter the Ranger in a way that’s more thematic while keeping them balanced against other classes through a situational bonus.

Alternate Favored Enemy – You gain advantage against a target that falls under your favored enemy list. After making this attack, this target cannot be selected for at least 24 hours. You may designate a favored enemy target as many times as your Wisdom modifier before taking a Short Rest or Long Rest.

To give credit where credit is due, this was a mix of my own idea (found in my House Rules page on the original tumblr site, as well as Samuel from the Homebrew D&D 5th Edition facebook group.)  Image is from Witcher III: Wild Hunt

Wild Magic – An Arcane Tradition for D&D 5th Edition

Author’s Note:  I’m not sure why, but I’m not overly fond of the Sorcerer as presented.  Plus, I wanted to convert the AD&D Wild Mage (including the BGII version) to D&D 5th Edition.  Without further ado, enjoy.

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Neera, Iconic Half-Elf Wild Mage

New Wizard Arcane Tradition – Wild Magic

Whether this unofficial school of magic was created through a desire to become the most powerful or out of sheer madness, wild magic is perhaps the most misunderstood and confusing method of magic.  WildMagic is understanding the raw powers of arcane energy itself, trying to harness it to the fullest, and seeing where the energy takes you as a result.  For obvious reasons, this school of magic faces more persecution than the necromancy school.

Crunch after the jump

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The Ursine – A Bipedal Bear Race for D&D 5th Edition

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Bear Cavalry, with more bears!

Physically, the ursine look like somewhat bipedal bears.  While actual bears rarely move on their hind legs, these creatures are somewhat bound to it by default.  However, they can move on all fours like their wild cousins.  Tribes are typically what separate the ursine from one another.  Usually, each tribe is based off the species they originated from.  Beyond that, each tribe has a caste system of sorts; hunters/gatherers, farmers, traders, guards, and the elder councils.  While there is no official hierarchy, some social branches gain more respect than others. Despite their bestial appearance, they tend not to be hostile with ‘regular’ humanoids.  Their actions with outsiders rarely venture beyond trade and negotiations, but it isn’t too uncommon to see an ursine travel as a guide or bodyguard.  Within their lands, many tend to live off a diet associated with their wild equivalents, while some have successfully imported and maintained food stock from the outside world.  While this has lead to slight infighting and social conflict, these resources have been a blessing in tougher times.

EDIT Aug 2017: I removed some of the content here, in part because it came to my attention that people were plagiarizing my work.  While I’m happy that people are inspired by this blog, the copying and theft has become disheartening for me.  Since this is likely to be revised in a product, I might remove the stats from this page as well, supplying a link in its place.  In the meantime, here is my revised draft for this race!

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