Please review the house rules. I would encourage each of you to respond to the house rules with any concerns or ideas. These may move according to play experience and should be considered up for debate.
I want to lay down the expectations for the game and also for the rule variants I would like to use. First and foremost, we are all here to have a fun time. Jokes, silliness and bad puns will be used, sometimes liberally, and out of character jokes and fodder are allowed.
The biggest table rule that we should enforce should be cooperative play. This can be defined as helping the characters and players express themselves in a mutually agreed upon fashion, even in conflict. If there is an argument among the characters, I want to suggest that the players acknowledge each other out of character with a word or two of encouragement, such as, “well played,” or “nice freak out, dude!”
Try to foresee and mitigate distractions and avoid checking phones and such.
Rule discussions can be had at the table. As always, after hearing the rule, the DM always has the right to overrule it based on circumstances which the players might not be aware.
We will approach missing players on a case by case basis. Ideally, there will be a reason for the character to leave the adventure for the duration, either physically or mentally. If not, the DM will run the character and adjudicate what abilities, tactics and actions the character will take. If a player cannot make it, the DM will do their very best to keep the character alive for the duration.
Because we want to encourage great story telling and character interaction, I would encourage everyone to share as much player knowledge with each other as they are comfortable. It is each person’s responsibility to act only on the knowledge their character knows.
Character actions break into two categories for game mechanics. Things that can be observed and things that cannot. Generally, a character has to have a good reason to act on the unobserved actions of their companions, be it skill checks, attacks, motivations, etc.. This reason should be narrated and if it cannot be reasonably defended, the DM may not allow the course of action.
The DM will be awarding an inspiration token at the beginning of each session to be used as the players see fit. Once, per session, a player can give inspiration to another player. This is encouraged and welcomed. The inspiration must be based upon the excellence of the receiving player’s performance. Inspiration will be signified by a stone given to the player. Each player can only have one Inspiration stone at a time but they are immediately usable.
Players can use inspiration for two things. First, they may use their stone to reroll any dice that affects their character. This can be their attack, save or it can be to reroll their opponent’s attack, save, etc.. Second, players can use their stone to “Succeed At A Cost.” Their action will succeed by using their inspiration but the cost of the success will be commiserate to the success. Once example might be, a character succeeds at dodging the fireball but his cloak took the full brunt of the spell and is destroyed.
Flanking and Facing
Both Flanking and Facing rules will be used from the DMG. Please familiarize yourself with these rules.
Choose two personality traits and one each of Ideals, Bonds and Flaws. Please liberally edit the traits to your character and discuss any changes with the DM. You may purchase more Traits by taking more flaws at a one to one ratio.
Personality traits, flaws and bonds can come into play adding advantage or disadvantage to rolls made by the character. For example, if a character has the trait, “No one can stay angry at them for long…” the character can roll with Advantage on any attempt to diffuse a situation. Also, if a character has the flaw, “I’m a sucker for a pretty face.’ That character might roll at a disadvantage to deceive a beautiful character.
Upon character creation, everyone receives the skill, tool and kit proficiencies allowed as per the PHB and Castlemourn setting. Characters also receive their Intelligence modifier in extra points they can spend as per the rules below. No Intelligence modifier means no extra skills at first level, however, negative modifiers do not take away skills or points.
These points can be used to buy any skill using the levels of Novice, Proficient and Expert. Novice is half your proficiency bonus, Proficient is full and Expert is double.
The skills listed in your class, race and background are your Class Skills, even if you did not choose them in character creation. Mark those skills so you remember your class skills. To be proficient in Class Skills past 1st level, one skill point can buy Proficient and two extra points can buy Expert. Expert is the highest ranking a character can achieve in a skill via training alone. Only one skill can be upgraded to Expert per level advancement, including 1st level. You can be an expert in one skill at first level. It is allowed to save points and grow your skills over multiple levels.
Characters can also choose skills that are not Class Skills, however the costs are doubled, ie, one skill point can buy Novice (half proficiency bonus), one more point can buy Proficient and two more points can buy Expert. Characters can also train for any new skills or kits (PHB p 187) outside of the point allowance. The costs are half the time and gold for Novice, the other half for Proficient and double all costs to go from Proficient to Expert. Any skill, kit or set of tools can be trained, provided someone qualified, and above your level, will train you.
New skill points are gained at levels 2, 3, 6, 9, 12, 16 and 20. Each character gains 2+Intelligence bonus in additional skill points, with every character receiving a minimum of two points.
All points are cumulative, ie, it takes 3 points to be expert on class skills and a whooping 6 for non class skills.
Fear and Horror will be used. Please familiarize yourself with these rules. DMG p. 266
Slow Natural Healing will be used. Please familiarize yourself with these rules. DMG p. 266
Healer’s Kit Dependency
During a short rest, a character has a choice for binding wounds and healing. They must expend the use of a healer’s kit to attend to the wound or they must narrate how the wound is treated, possibly using strips of cloth from their clothing or surrounding materials to bind or set the wound. If neither of these options is available, the character can only spend one Hit Dice for healing until a long rest.
The first aggressive action in combat will begin the combat regardless of initiative, effectively being treated as a single action, whether attack or movement. For example, if you are facing off with orcs with weapons drawn, the first character or orc to say, “I attack!” will get that attack and then initiative will begin. You cannot draw your sword, move and attack as a surprise, as the surprise action is a single action.
All Action Options in the DMG p271-272 are allowed and encouraged.
Creating Magic Items
Under most circumstances, characters will not be able to create magic items without instructions. Instructions will be extremely hard to come by.
Hit Points and Injuries
Hit points represent a character’s ability to continue fighting by way of stamina, will power and raw grit. They do not represent any serious injuries to the character. They are nothing more than a measurement of how many times, or how hard, a character can be hit, poked, prodded or mentally attacked before they lose the ability to continue fighting. Note, losing final hit points is usually a lethal blow and the additional effects of that type of blow are covered below under Injuries.
As illustration, some non-magical class abilities allow a character to regain hit points easily, such as the fighter’s Second Wind. That being true, how could these possibly represent physical injuries? Is the fighter literally regenerating tissue on the fly? To go further, given time, that fighter will regain all their hit points by simply resting and recharging throughout the day. Clearly, Second Wind is not meant to convey that a fighter can be physically mutilated, take a Second Wind, be fine and move on to be physically dissected again and again on the very same day! No, instead of hit points representing that fighter’s, or any character’s, ability to miraculously heal wounds and mend broken bones, they represent the character’s ability to withstand physical punishment and, likewise, their ability to recover from the trauma of combat and extreme situations. Rest also replenishes a character’s hit points; it does not heal character’s supernaturally quickly from serious injuries. Since Hit Points are defined more clearly as the abstract representation of a character’s ability to withstand punishment and continue, there must be another mechanism to represent when they are seriously injured.
A character will sustain a serious injury under certain conditions, such as taking a critical hit, suffering massive damage, dropping to 0 hit points (indicating a moral blow dropped the character), suffering a specific injury, such as a leg caught in a steel trap, failing a death saving throw by five or more or various situations as determined by the DM, such as falling off a cliff. When a character receives an injury, they will be handed one or more Injury Tokens to represent the Injury. These tokens will be the character’s indicator as to the nature of their injury and how they should adjust their rolls according to the type of injury. The DM may assign multiple injury tokens to a character for a single, major injury, such as a broken leg to indicate how long that injury will take to heal naturally. These injuries are physical or physiological and affect the character’s actions until healed by a) time or b) magic.
If not healed by magic, injuries heal more in line with our understanding of a body’s ability to heal itself. Injuries heal one token per week of each injury type received, if the body is left to heal naturally. This means that if a character has one Strength injury and one Wisdom injury, after a week, both injuries are healed. if the character has two Strength injury tokens, after a week, only one would be healed, the other would heal after the following week. Once the injury is healed, the character’s ability to act normally returns. For flavor, a character who had a broken leg could still walk with a limp and a character with a major head injury might still zone out on occasion, but these left to the player and DM to determine.
If injuries are healed by magic, they heal at the rate of one injury token per healing spell level if the spell is used for that purpose. If used as such, they do not heal hit points. i.e., A 2nd level Cure Wounds would remove two Injury Markers of the healer’s choice. A healer could use a healing spell and break it up into various components. That 2nd level spell could heal one injury and one level of hit points, etc.. A paladin’s laying on of hands would heal one injury per 5 hit points. Healing potions, poultices and other forms of non directed healing magic heal hit points first and injuries only after all the hit points have been healed at the rate of one injury per die of healing or per 5 hit points worth of healing if a die is not used in the description. Needless to say, this makes healing magic extremely powerful for healing in the world, as without it, injuries take weeks to heal.
When a character receives an injury, they will be given a token to help remember the injury. It is up to the DM and the player to determine the specifics of the injury. Those tokens are:
M – Movement and Dex bonus to AC is halved
S – Strength and Strength Based Attacks are rolled with Disadvantage
C – Charisma, spells based on it, and social interaction skill checks are rolled with Disadvantage
I – Intelligence, Wisdom and Spells based on those are rolled with Disadvantage
D – Dexterity and Dexterity based attacks are rolled with Disadvantage