|Date Created:||13th October 2010|
|Editing:||Please feel free to edit constructively!|
Chapter 1: Basics and Bookwork
Before we can get into the meat of the rules, quite a few specific changes need to be made. These are designed to make the game easier to use and more sensible overall, as well as to remove some oddities of the systems, and the magic system in particular.
These changes have been categorised based on which section of the SRD they would come under, to the nearest approximation I can manage.
In short, there are far, far too many bonus types around in 3.5 DnD. Some of these are quite necessary and useful, while others basically allow people to stack on RNG-raping bonuses to things that frankly don't need them. Thus, this needs to be put straight. This isn't actually hard; it just requires a bit of discipline.
The following bonuses no longer exist in any form. Anything in the system that uses any of these needs to be retyped to something more appropriate, depending on what they apply themselves to.
Additionally, there are now rules regarding what bonuses may apply to. This is not really a big deal if the rules here are used as-is, but it is designed to assist people who want to make their own content using these rules.
The following bonuses can only be applied to the listed values and no others.
- Ability Modifier: Unchanged from SRD
- Armour: AC
- Competence: Ability checks, skill checks
- Dodge: AC, Reflex saves
- Enhancement: Ability scores, AC, attack rolls, damage rolls, save DCs
- Morale: Ability checks, AC, attack rolls, damage rolls, saves
- Natural Armour: AC
- Shield: AC
- Size: AC, attack rolls, grapple checks (special)
New Level-Dependent Benefits
Let's face it: having our heroes look like Christmas trees or hoboes isn't very cool. At the same time, the magic item system pretty much forces us to do that very thing. This isn't at all what the source material, or indeed, our own intuitions tell us, and results in people constantly fighting to get enough numeric-bonus items to keep in the game while neglecting to pick up interesting or fun stuff. This makes no sense, and frankly, numeric items don't even need to exist at all.
Secondly, the magic item system, as well as wealth-by-level, blatantly favours casters, as they have far fewer necessities as compared to the poor melee folks. While this whole document attempts to address this issue, one of the most pertinent problems needs to be addressed here specifically - the need for number-boosting items.
Thirdly, nobody gets enough feats. These are a good way to get generic abilities onto a character, but most people will only see about seven feats in their entire 1-20 career (assuming the game even goes on that long). This also needs to be rectified.
Level-dependent benefits no longer advance ability scores every four levels, or feats every three. Instead, feats are gained 'every odd-numbered level.
In addition to the normal level-dependent benefits table, all characters also gain the following benefits at the listed levels.
|Character Level||Enhancement Bonus to Attack Rolls, Damage Rolls and Saves||Enhancement Bonus to Ability Scores and AC|
|Why we killed XP|
|You may have noticed that there is a distinct lack of XP components in this game. There is a reason for that - XP is not helpful to anyone in any capacity. Although the DMG contains provisions for giving out XP for non-combat encounters, let's face it - nobody does that. This by itself encourages Final Fantasy-style XP dances in the woods, rather than incentivising things like bypassing combat encounters, negotiations or hell, going for the princess in the tower rather than beating up every goblin around it. This is silly by itself, and is reason enough to be rid of it.
On top of that, XP costs work rather a lot like a credit card, in that you get what you want now (namely, the ability in question) and pay for it later (namely, not levelling-up when you should). Now, if every game actually ran from 1st to 20th level, this could be defensible as balanced - except in practice, this rarely happens. People start games later than 1st level, finish them earlier than 20th level, and in some one-shot adventures, they might never level-up at all! This means the game ends before this 'credit card' ever comes due, and people have gotten something for nothing. The fact stands, however, that even the theory behind XP costs is silly, as they're designed to 'balance out' otherwise powerful abilities. However, if an ability is balanced enough to exist, mitigating costs aren't necessary - just raise its level. This gives yet another reason why XP costs are not needed.
Lastly, the rate of XP advance postulated in the DMG is ridiculous, as characters go from mud farmers to demi-deities in less than the time it takes to carry a child to term. No world can possibly remain sane or stable under this kind of advancement pressure, and if you attempt to slow it down, per-day abilities (such as pretty much all casters ever) become crazy-good. This is also a problem, and another reason to do away with XP altogether.
As a result of all the above, there are no XP components to crafting, and no XP costs, in this volume. I also strongly urge you to do away with XP in your own games, and simply level-up when the story requires it.
New Action Types
The addition of the swift and immediate action was one of the best things done in 3.5 over 3.0. However, especially where immediate actions are concerned, some timing restrictions were never put in place, leading to some confusion about whether these actions could be used before the ability they are 'responded to' with, or after. This is relatively simple to fix as well.
Immediate actions are now divided into two forms: immediate reactions and immediate triggers. Both function according to the rules regarding immediate actions, except for one difference. Immediate reactions take place before the action that they were declared 'in response' to, while immediate triggers take place after the action instead.
Flat-Footed and Touch AC
The way flat-footed AC calculations work in 3.5 is more than a little odd, as people with a Dexterity of 20 are penalised more for being flat-footed than those with a Dexterity of 10. This plainly makes no sense, as more agile characters would be less worried about being caught flat-footed than anyone else. Additionally, being flat-footed as written now does nothing whatsoever to people who have a Dexterity of 10 or below, which also seems strange. So let's fix both.
A flat-footed creature reduces its AC by 4. Flat-footed ACs no longer exist.
Wasn't that easy? Now, touch AC suffers from a similar problem, as characters who wear more armour become easier to touch. To me, this also plainly makes no sense - if more armour makes it harder to sword you, but not tap you on the shoulder, there's some serious versimillitude issues at work. So while we're here...
Whenever something is called a "touch attack" of any sort, it receives a +4 bonus on its attack roll. Touch ACs no longer exist.
This also has the added bonus of making the AC entry for monsters and PCs a fair bit simpler.
Dexterity is a hideously overloaded ability score, making it an extremely easy choice. Additionally, it is possible that a 1st level rogue has a better reaction time in combat than a 20th level fighter, and this strikes me as outrightly strange, given that the latter is much more experienced and powerful. So to correct for this, and give people a fair go of things, the following is being introduced.
When rolling for initiative, characters add one-half of their character level, rounding down, plus their choice of their Dexterity, Intelligence or Wisdom modifiers to the roll.
The fact that the base 3.5 system bases spell DCs on spell level is a substantial flaw for a number of reasons. First of all, from 0-level to 9th level spells, this produces a 9-point save DC disparity, which is very much unacceptable if you want people to either care about 0 level spells or not get massacred by 9th level ones. Secondly, this makes saves extremely difficult to balance, as they would quickly end up being either too good or too weak if this system is maintained. Lastly, this doubly screws casters which don't get access to 9th level spells at all, such as paladins and rangers, which isn't what we want at all.
Save DCs for all spells are now calculated as follows: 10 + 1/2 the caster's character level + the caster's relevant ability modifier.
Making caster level independent of character level is also very problematic. It makes casters who multiclass have to burn feats to not constantly lose to SR, makes partial casting in anything a problem to give out, and generally is subject to too many additional modifications all over the place through items, other spells and so on. It needs to be put back on secure and sensible pegs, and we're going to do just that.
A character that can cast spells of any sort, no matter the source, always has a caster level equal to their character level. Always, forever and eternally. Nothing can increase or decrease this for any reason whatsoever, whether by item, spell, ability, or anything else.
Since the SRD is actively contradictory on this, and that voluntary save failure is already in the system, there's no reason to make spell resistance as clunky as it currently is. Additionally, spell resistance needs a bit of clarification to interact with some new rules.
A character may elect to have their spell resistance fail automatically against any spell targeting them if they wish. This requires no action.
If the user of an ability fails to penetrate spell resistance, the creature is considered to be Immune to the ability.
New Magic Types
Not so much a fix as a clarification of an element of the Tome of Prowess, this creates an additional magic type on top of the original two of arcane and divine: natural magic.
There are now three forms of magic. Arcane magic comes from the imposition of a character's will onto their environment, divine magic is granted to a character from some higher power, such as an outsider or a deity, while natural magic is granted by a close connection to some manner of environment or plane in general. Bards, wizards and sorcerers wield arcane magic, clerics and paladins wield divine magic, and druids and rangers wield natural magic.
Spell Levels and Classes
Putting it really simply, spells are either level-appropriate or they're not. There is never a case when it is OK to give out a spell either ahead of time, or later than it's appropriate, without making it a different spell. As a result, this document standardises all spell levels, no matter what class they belong to.
All spells now have a fixed level, irrespective of which class list they appear on.
Schools of Magic Redefined
The schools of magic have traditionally had extremely poor definitions, with significant overlap, and some schools gaining far more than they should, while others gaining much less so. In order to try and bring some sense of order to the schools of magic, they are being rearranged and redefined as follows. Additionally, due to the expansion of their definitions, their wording needed to be changed, as they don't just apply to spells anymore.
Abilities from this school affect other abilities. These abilities are usually defensive in nature, but also often interfere with the workings of other abilities, or cause them to function in ways they normally wouldn't. Most protective abilities are abjurations.
If an abjuration ability creates a barrier that keeps out certain creatures or objects, this barrier cannot be pushed aggressively against such creatures or objects. If this is done, the user will feel a pressure against the barrier, and repeated attempts will cause the ability to fail.
Conjuration abilities create matter in all forms. [Summoning] and [Calling] abilities are nearly always conjurations, as well as any abilities that create objects out of thin air. Creatures that you conjure usually, but not always, obey your commands. Conjuration cannot manipulate matter (like transmutation), nor does it create or manipulate energy (like evocation).
A creature or object created by a conjuration ability cannot appear inside another creature, but an object that has at least one open side and that can fit the creature or object being created can accomodate them normally. The object or creature must appear within the range of the ability, but does not have to remain that way.
Divination abilities give access to information or sensory input that would not otherwise be available to the user. All abilities that involve perceiving anything that wouldn't normally be visible, audible etc., predicting things to come, or viewing remote locations are divinations.
A divination with a cone-shaped area extends from its user the given distance, and can move with them. It extends in the direction that the user looks, and the cone defines the area that the user can sweep or cover each round.
Enchantment abilities affect, control or alter the minds of other beings. Abilities that induce fear, emotion or similar things, as well as anything that affects memory, are enchantments. Most enchantments have the [Mind-Affecting] tag.
Evocation abilities create, control and alter energy. Abilities with the [Teleport] tag or that involve planar travel, as well as anything that controls gravity, fire or a similar energy, are all evocations. Evocations tend toward big, explosive effects. Evocation cannot create or manipulate matter (that's what conjuration and transmutation are for, respectively).
Illusion abilities affect, control or alter the senses of other beings, as well as magical or supernatural 'senses'. Abilities which create images of things that are not real, alter appearances and dull or remove certain senses are all illusions. Illusion cannot give access to genuine information, and also cannot be used to give senses (as both of those are divination's job).
Necromancy abilities manipulate life and death. Abilities that deal with negative and positive energy, healing, souls and the undead are all part of the school of necromancy.
Transmutation abilities alter and manipulate matter. Transmutation cannot create matter (that's conjuration's job) and it can't create or alter energy (that's evocation).
A Note on Subschools
As you might have noticed, subschools are gone. These have been turned into tags, which are described below in more detail.
While the descriptors used by 3.5 are a good classification tool, they ultimately don't go far enough. As a result, to replace descriptors and subschools both, a system of tags is being introduced. These determine how the abilities tagged with them interact with other abilities, as well as some additional rules, which will be described here. Just as with spell schools, tags are being expanded to affect all manner of other non-spell things, and so their wording will reflect this.
These are similar groups of tags that are listed near each other for ease of reference and to avoid repetition.
These tags indicate that these abilities bring creatures across large distances to serve the users of the ability.
Creatures brought by these abilities are fully real, and can enter antimagic fields without harm. Bringing a creature with an elemental subtype using such an ability gives that ability the appropriate [Elemental] tag as well.
Creatures brought by these abilities are only replicas. They can be 'dispelled' as if they were an area spell, and entering an 'antimagic field' causes them to wink out of existence. Such creatures are non-specific and untrainable, and cannot be brought into an environment that cannot support them. These creatures cannot use any abilities that summon or create creatures, nor can they use any [Teleportation] abilities or abilities that allow them to travel between planes. Bringing a creature with an elemental subtype using such an ability gives that ability the appropriate [Elemental] tag as well.
These tags indicate that these abilities alter the senses of their targets, making them perceive something that isn't there.
Creatures that encounter either an [Image] or [Phantasm] ability do not usually get a save to recognise it as not real. They do, however, receive a save (usually a Will save, marked as a "disbelief" save) if they carefully study or interact with the illusory perception in some way. Only if this yields a response that is atypical or strange will such a save be permitted. "Studying carefully" requires a lot of scrutiny, and this means that a casual glance, a few seconds of listening or something similar are not enough; thorough searching and probing, detailed listening for at least ten seconds and something of that degree are required to gain a save.
Additionally, most individuals don't expect their senses to lead them wrongly, and quite frequently, a wall made of fire might actually be a wall of fire spell, and very few individuals would risk checking this fact. Only highly-paranoid, aware or intelligent individuals, or those who understand they face illusions, should even be allowed to examine such effects to determine their veracity. This applies equally to NPCs as well, and players are within their rights in calling out GMs who do not play fair with these rules.
A passed save shows that the ability's effect is not real, but an outline of the effect remains. A failed save indicates that the individual has completely succumbed to the illusion, and will continue to insist that it is real. Future saves are not allowed. A creature who has disbelieved an [Image] effect can communicate this disbelief to others, granting them a +4 bonus on their saves (assuming they receive them). If other creatures understand that a creature is the subject of a [Phantasm] spell, they can communicate that this is not real to them, allowing them a +4 bonus on their saves. A creature that receives personal, incontrovertible proof that such an effect is not what it seems to be, after the normal save for disbelief (and the circumstances surrounding it), is allowed an additional save. If this is also failed, the individual in question has rationalised it so thoroughly that they insist the effect is real no matter what.
These abilities create something that is perceivable by anyone who views (or hears, or smells, etc) the ability's effect and is capable of processing this perception. These abilities cannot create intelligible speech unless the ability description states otherwise, and any speech they generate must be in a language known by the user, or it will come out as gibberish. Any such perception must be familiar to the user, and it will be dependent on their subjective perceptions of such a perception.
These abilities create something that only the user and the intended target or targets can perceive. It is a purely sensory effect between the user and the target, and third parties do not perceive anything where this ability's effect should be. Almost all [Phantasm] abilities are also [Mind-Affecting].
These tags indicate what elemental energy the ability draws upon. While there are some connections between Elemental and Energy tags, but they aren't absolute.
[Elemental: Air], [Elemental: Earth], [Elemental: Fire], [Elemental: Water]
These abilities have the given elemental type.
[Elemental: Air or Earth]
These abilities can be either elemental type, depending on the choices made when using the ability.
[Elemental: Air and Earth]
These abilities are of both elemental types.
These abilities are of all elemental types.
These tags indicate what type of damage the ability deals. While there are some connections between Energy and Elemental tags, they aren't absolute.
[Energy: Acid], [Energy: Cold], [Energy: Electricity], [Energy: Fire]
These abilities deal only the indicated damage type unless specified otherwise in the description.
[Energy: Acid or Cold]
'These abilities deal either type of damage. The tag changes based on the kind of damage the ability does.
Example: An ability with the tag [Energy: Cold or Fire] can deal either fire or cold damage, depending on what options are chosen. If it deals fire damage, the tag becomes [Energy: Fire], and if cold, [Energy: Cold].
[Energy: Acid and Cold], [Energy: Acid, Cold and Fire], etc.
These abilities deal all of these damage types. If a creature or object affected by this ability has resistance to any of these damage types, it may only apply the lowest of all shared resistances against the given energy types.
Example: An ability with the tag [Energy: Cold and Fire] deals both cold and fire damage. A creature that has fire resistance 5 and cold resistance 5 reduces the damage from this ability by 5. A creature that has fire resistance 10 and cold resistance 5 reduces the damage by 5. A creature that has fire resistance 20 and no cold resistance does not reduce the damage from this ability.
These abilities deal all energy damage types. If a creature or object affected by this ability has resistance to any of these damage types, it may only apply the lowest of all shared resistances against the given energy types.
These tags indicate that the abilities deal with darkness or light, either filling an area with it or removing it from an area.
These abilities negate all [Light] abilities within their areas or on their targets, as long as these abilities aren't higher-level. The [Darkness] ability is not affected by this, and the duration of so-negated [Light] abilities continues. Any Investment costs for such abilities must continue to be paid.
These abilities negate all [Darkness] abilities within their areas or on their targets, as long as these abilities aren't higher-level. The [Light] ability is not affected by this, and the duration of so-negated [Darkness] abilities continues. Any Investment costs for such abilities must continue to be paid.
These tags indicate how commonly-known the abilities tagged with them are. Nearly always used for spells, these indicate how easy they are to learn or acquire in-game.
These abilities are the most common of their kind. All characters of the class that this ability belongs to know such abilities.
Example: If the ability in question was a wizard spell, all wizards know it.
These abilities are less common, but still relatively widely-known. These can be selected by any character of the class that this ability belongs to.
Example: If the ability in question was a wizard spell, any wizard can learn it, but not every wizard will necessarily know all such abilities.
These abilities are the most rare and unusual of their kind, and are known by very few, if they're known by anyone living at all. These abilities can only be learned with GM permission or certain items.
Example: If the ability in question was a wizard spell, while any wizard could learn it, unless they had permission from the GM or an item that could teach it to them, they'd be out of luck.
|GM Notes: When are [Exotic] abilities OK?|
|The rationale behind the [Exotic] tag is to indicate abilities that carry with them a lot of baggage to do with mechanics or unforeseen or 'hidden' capabilities that not all GMs may want in their games or wish to handle. A good example of such an ability is the Leadership feat, as cohorts significantly change the way the game works, and may add significant additional complications.
So when should you give these abilities out? Basically, if you have been playing this game for a while and know the implications of these abilities, by all means, let people learn them as freely as you choose. You can have them find them on stone tablets, get them taught to them by another character, or, if you're feeling particularly generous, simply let them learn [Exotic] abilities as if they were [Complex] ones. However, if you're new to this, or aren't totally sure what characters are capable of, feel free to restrict these or even not have them available at all. Whatever works for you.
These tags show whether spell resistance applies to this ability and how. If the ability does not possess a tag relating to spell resistance, it does not apply.
These abilities require their user to test against the spell resistance of any of its targets, or all creatures in the area of the ability.
These abilities allow for spell resistance, but how it applies is unusual. Check the spell description for more details.
These tags indicate that the abilities channel positive or negative energy.
These abilities deal negative energy damage. These affect living creatures normally, while undead receive the Inverse effect instead. Creatures that are neither living nor undead are Immune.
These abilities deal positive energy damage. These affect undead creatures normally, while living creatures receive the Inverse effect instead. Creatures that are neither undead nor living are Immune.
These tags indicate what type of ability this is, in terms of how frequently and how it can be used.
These abilities can be used whenever the character that knows them has an appropriate type of action available to them.
These abilities can be used only a limited number of times or in specific circumstances. What these are is determined by the class that receives them.
These abilities are always active unless their users wish it otherwise. All such abilities are also [Investment] abilities.
These abilities rely on ambient magic and specific ritualistic actions. They are more widely-learnable than most abilities, but always take significant time.
These are standalone tags, which do not belong to any group.
These abilities change how the target or targets think of the user. Targets still act in a way consistent with their belief and alignment, but may be open to doing more for the user than normal. They are open to interpreting anything the caster tells them or does to them based on their own thinking (slightly modified by the ability). When such abilities end, any targets return to their normal thinking patterns regarding the user, as they were before the ability was used.
These abilities change the way the target or targets' minds work. This can (but doesn't always) force them to act in the manner the user wants, regardless of what they think or feel about it.
These abilities create matter out of thin air, in the place the user decides. If the ability has a duration other than Instantaneous, the power of the ability itself holds the creation together, and when the ability ends, the matter vanishes without a trace. If the ability has an Instantaneous duration, the matter doesn't depend on the ability to work, and behaves as normal matter of its type after the ability is used.
These abilities attack the target's soul. Any creature killed by a [Death] ability cannot be brought back from the dead (although some abilities can bypass this).
These abilities induce a condition of panic or terror in their targets.
These abilities use pure magical energy. Such abilities ignore incorporeal miss chances, and their damage does not possess a type.
These abilities tie up some of the intrinsic magical energy that their target or targets keep to attune and use magic items. For as long as the ability is active, its target or targets must reduce the number of attuned magic items they can have active by 1. For multiple-target abilities, all targets must reduce this number for themselves.
These abilities require the target or targets of the ability to understand the user. The understanding need not be two-way - the user only needs to be able to communicate something intelligible to the targets, which must be able to hear and understand it.
These abilities act upon the mind, and thus, creatures that are mindless cannot be affected by them.
These abilities can be made permanent by sufficiently powerful users. The X in the tag indicates the minimum character level (or CR, for monsters) that is necessary to make the ability permanent. Sometimes, this tag is written as [Persistible: Special], in which case, its own rules apply - check the spell description for more details.
These abilities generate a line or beam that strikes the target. It is aimed as a ranged attack, and usually requires a ranged touch attack as well. As with a ranged weapon, you can try and guess where a target it and fire at that. Unlike with a targeted ability, you don't need to see a creature to attempt to hit it with this, but intervening objects can provide cover to a creature.
If the [Ray] ability has a duration, it reflects how long its after-effects last, not the duration of the ray itself.
A [Ray] ability can score critical hits just like a weapon. It has a natural threat range of 20, and a critical multiplier of x2.
These abilities create an invisible magic sensor that sends the user information. Unless noted otherwise, the sensor can detect whatever the user normally could. This includes other abilities that affect the user, but not those that emanate from them. The sensor is a separate, independent sensory organ, and can work normally even if the user has been blinded, deafened and so forth.
Any creature with an Intelligence of 12 or more can notice the sensor with a DC 20 Perception check. Any damage destroys a sensor, and if the source of the sensor is a spell, it can also be dispelled.
Lead sheeting one inch thick stops a [Scrying] ability, and the user becomes aware of this.
These abilities spread, like a cloud or fog, from their point of origin. This can cause its effect to extend around corners or beyond the user's line of sight. When determining distance for [Spread] abilities, count around obstacles, not through them. The user must have line of effect to the point of origin, but not to everywhere the [Spread] ability's effect can cover.
These abilities allow the user to cross great distances at the speed of light (approximately 186,282 miles per second). Such an ability is blocked by at least three feet of stone or earth (thus, teleporting underground without using a fixed portal or something similar is not possible - hence the existence of castles and dungeons).
Components in DnD 3.5 simply don't work as intended. Material components are an actual, ha-ha-funny, joke. The fact you're not laughing right now shows that nobody gets it, and frankly, these have no business being there, as they're annoying and worthless if they cost no gold. If they do cost gold, they range from merely a nuisance (like the powdered silver for consecrate) to the highly-necessary and majorly-bad-to-be-without (like the diamonds for raise dead) to the utterly insane (like the insane amount of onyx that animate dead requires). None of these add anything useful to the game except flavour text, and frankly, that should be up to the players to decide, not the GM.
XP components are an altogether different problem. The whole use of these is a bit like paying for something using a credit card - you get what you pay for now (namely, the spell effect), but don't pay for them until later (namely, not levelling-up when you should). Now, this in itself is a problem, as this could only realistically work if every game started at 1 and went to 20. While this is the ideal, it almost never happens - people start the game at higher levels, finish at lower ones, and in some adventures, may never level up at all. Thus, it is totally conceivable that the credit card never comes due, which means that you are essentially getting something for nothing. This 'borrowing from the future' aside, XP components are also designed as a limitation on spells that are considered 'powerful' (such as raise dead) or on spells that give you things earlier than you're supposed to get them. Both of these are essentially flawed - if a spell is powerful enough to be included, it's powerful enough to be included, end of story, and if it's too powerful for its level, it needs relevelling. As a result, XP components serve no purpose, and need to die.
The following spell components no longer exist:
Additionally, casters end up playing an interesting war with the rules when it comes to buffs. While some issues (such as buffs displacing items) have been dealt to with the [Investment] tag, a problem commonly known as the Frank Cheat still remains - namely, abuse of long durations to re-use slots while the spells cast out of them remain active. To prevent this kind of nonsense, the following change is instituted.
An additional type of component is introduced: the Slot component, abbreviated 'Sl'. This causes the personal energies of the user, locking out one use of the ability until it is dispelled, dismissed or ends some other way (although suppression doesn't count). This means that the ability slot or use remains 'used up' even with rest or some other form of recovery if it is still active.