Notes and Whatnot on UA: The Ranger, Revised

So, I never actually got around to seeing the revised ranger in play until recently.  With that, here’s a few concept I propose for fixing a couple of (what I perceive to be) bugs.

UA Revised Ranger – Proposed House Rules List

  • Natural Explorer. This MUST tie to a type of environment.  At Level 1, choose two environment types.  At levels 6, 11 and 16, choose another.  Benefits are granted in that environment.  Meanwhile, the Advantage to attack enemies only works for ONE ATTACK while in that environment.
  • Natural Explorer (ALTERNATE). Add proficiency bonus to initiative checks while in your terrain.  1/Short Rest gain advantage on an attack against a favored enemy.
  • Beast Conclave – Companion’s Bond. Companion only gains proficiency in Strength and Dexterity saving throws, not proficiency in ALL saving throws.  Alternatively, choose two saving throws instead.
  • Deep Stalker Conclave – Underdark Scout. You do not get the extra attack on your first turn.  Possibly grant 1d6 sneak attack damage instead.

IMAGE CREDIT: Sojourn by Todd Lockwood, copyright 2015.  Drizz’t Do’urden is copyright of Wizards of the Coast and R.A. Salvatore.


Purity & Corruption – Struggles against Tainting Evil in D&D 5th Edition

Don’t worry, he’s completely fine.

Darkness preys upon countless innocents, dragging them into their clutches as it sees fit.  It awaits for us to falter and turn to it in search of aid, courage, control.  It happily responds, in hopes of enthralling those who get too close.  This wickedness is no one being, but the very nature of evil itself.  It seeks to take everything that is true goodness, and destroy it any way it can.  For true evil, the failure of hope and prosperity is its ultimate goal.  And in the end, it has plans to make us all pawns in its twisted games. 

However, heroes rise up to combat the darkness and help bring light to the world.  But in the end, they risk falling to the same evil they combat.  Their feuds against wickedness risk corrupting them as well, making their valiant efforts all for naught.  Such adventurers may become the very monsters they quested forth to destroy, in the end.  Only a true champion of justice can withstand an onslaught of defilers and diabolic forces.  All everyone else can hope for is solace and sanctuary, for it’s all we have in an endless struggle to fend off powers far beyond our control.  We have no control, you see!  The darkness comes!  It will damn us all!

The forces of corruption are a new threat to your players.  Similar to the Sanity stat, Purity is an alternate option to measure your players’ endurance against forces of absolute evil.  The lower their purity is, the more likely they are to succumb to its dark embrace, similar to the Dark Lords of Ravenloft or the hellish creatures found in countless dark fantasy tales.

Author’s Note: I’m back with another rule module for you all!  In short, I gave the Pureness stat some playtesting, but found out it was wasn’t properly defined or fleshed out.  That and the base concept was tied to either Gamma World style mutation or “Arcane Corruption” (DCC style spellcasting).  The resulting feedback concluded that a mix of Ravenloft’s Dark Power effects charts, disease tracks and mutation were the best way to go.  In a sense, this is a compilation in addition to expansion on what I already have.  In short, this is a revision of the purity idea from my Arcane Corruption post.  It’s still similar to the rest of the post, same as my post for mutation.

Also, one of my players wanted me to delve deeper into the Curse of Undeath, making a post inspired by Dark Souls.  So, stay tuned for an expansion on that!

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Arcane Corruption: The Dark Side of Magic for D&D 5th Edition

Wizards are weird.

In darker settings, distant beings and magical powers are hard to trust… and for good reason.  In older iterations of the game, as well as darker fantasy RPGs like “Dungeon Crawl Classics”, delving into the supernatural had a risk far beyond a price tag and losing a spell slot or gaining the ire of a church.  Exploitation of eldritch powers could leave the victim becoming mad, diseased, or both.  Turning the forces of chaotic energy into an orderly event is by all means a paradox in and of itself, taking its toll on those who craft too much.  Likewise, making bargains with incomprehensible entities too takes its toll.  Those who take either too far risk becoming mad or warped beyond recognition.

And worse than exposing yourself to the unknown in immersing yourself is realms tainted by absolute corruption.  Desecrated lands, alters to dark gods, creatures that are the truest essence of evil and so on.  These sources of the most vile powers in existence are just as likely to twist and decay the soul into something it is not… or was not.  While some struggle with sanity, distortion at the hand of dark powers are far worse.

If you prefer, here are some alternative lists that can work as well.  Mutations – Part 1 (Benefits), Mutations – Part 2 (Drawbacks), Wild Magic Surge (Alternate)

Author’s Note: This is inspired by corrupted magic from Dungeon Crawl Classics, Carcosa, Taint from D&D 3.5 Heroes of Horror and the Insanity option from the Dungeon Master’s Guide.  At its core, this is a variant of the Sanity and Madness rules from the D&D 5E DMG.  Also, this is merely a draft for my concept.  Expect revision at some point!

Made by Doctor Necrotic, for Doctor Necrotic Media.

IMAGE SOURCE: Dungeon Crawl Classics

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Physician, Heal Thyself!: Alternate Healing & Dying

In addition to a handful of options found in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, I made a small handful of ideas and options for grittier and darker D&D games where healing powers aren’t prominent and health is usually a concern.  Whether these are mixed and matched with your games is completely up to you.

NOTE:  This will make your game much more lethal.  More characters will likely die as a result of these house rules.

Sacred Healing:  In worlds overrun with wickedness, it truly takes a toll on the body.  In order to heal up to full HP after a long rest, you must be in a holy site; a temple, a sacred druid grove, a special divine landmark, etc.  Evil characters must seek desecrated and unholy lands.  If the character cannot find a location like this, they do not gain this benefit.

Comfort and Joy:  You may only spend hit dice if you’re resting in a comfortable environment.

Longer Rest Time, but not TOO long:  Short Rest is now 3 hours and Long Rest is 24 hours.  Under this module, you could use a day of downtime during the long rest.

Less Intense Long Rests:  You regain HP = your remaining hit dice + your level.  You regain hit dice after the end of your long rest.

Slower Healing Magic:  Healing magic and healing-related powers (like Lay On Hands) would have ritual casting time.  Higher level and more elaborate spells (like Raise Dead) take a couple of hours instead.

Bring on the Pain!:  Consult the “Death and Dismemberment Chart” for dying characters.

More Pain!:  Here’s my take on Death & Dying.  Roll from either of the following d10 tables when you’d normally roll death saving throw. Getting attacked requires you to roll again.
* Table 1:

  • 1 – REALLY Dead (You are dead but CANNOT be resurrected),
  • 2 – Dead (You are dead but can be resurrected)/
  • (Alternatively) 1 – 2 –  Just Dead (ignore resurrection related content),
  • 3 Almost Dead (Fail 2 Death Saving Throws),
  • 4 – 8 Dying (Fail 1 Death Saving Throw),
  • 9 Not Dead (Succeed Saving Throw),
  • 10 Miraculously Invigorated (Automatically Stabilized)

* Table 2 (alternate):

  • 1 – 2 – Death,
  • 3 – 4 – Almost Dead (2 Fails)
  • 5 – 7 – Dying (1 Fail)
  • 8 – 9 – Nothing Happens
  • 10 – Success (1 Success)

Death and Dying: Nightmare Mode:  You die at 0 Hit Points.

For rules like this and more, please check out the D&D 5th Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide.

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

Grittier Arms and Armor: Enfeebled Equipment


Diving into my old and new Dark Sun books (as well as replaying Baldur’s Gate) gives me an interesting idea, a weapon property that characters can obtain (BUT DON’T WANT!)

Feeble: “The quality of you weapon has seriously degraded overtime.  Perhaps the materials that crafted for your weapon were either meant to be temporary or not intended for constant stress.  While wielding this weapon, targets have resistance to its damage.  Targets that have resistance to non-magical weapons are immune to attacks from this weapon.  Furthermore, rolling a Natural 1 on the die destroys this weapon.  In addition, armor with the feeble property grants -1 AC penalty upon any armor above leather.  If a target scores a natural 20 against your armor, it shatters.  However, if either the target or attacker is wielding a feeble weapon and the other has feeble armor, this quality is ignored.  However, the Nat 1/Nat 20 rule still applies.”

Now, this is pretty damn harsh!  How would it be applicable?  Perhaps a recreation of the Iron Crisis/Bhaalspawn saga would work for this?  Maybe the majority of weapons in Athas would carry this trait (considering they’re mostly made of rock and bone, something I can’t imagine taking too much abuse before breaking.)

On top of that, I’d probably replace the Rust Monster’s ability with the ability to make weapons feeble.  Furthermore, if it attacks a feeble weapon, it is automatically destroyed.  5E Rust Monsters are a lot more intimidating than their 4E counterparts, but they’re still not scary.  To be fair, the Tarrasque needs some fun buffs as well.