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Boons & Banes

I like the advantage system but I don’t really track it very well.  So I am going to keep that system as is and dish out the reward as needed, but since I am inattentive to it, I am reintroducing Fate Points from my previous campaigns (stolen from WFRP back in 1987) as I feel that suits the theme of my homebrew setting much more since its more mythic fantasy (Conan the Barbarian) than medieval fantasy (Lord of the Rings).

Edit 20012019: This has gone through a few iterations.  Latest version replaces inspiration entirely and renamed from “Fate Cards” to “Boons & Banes”. Name stolen from Shadow of the Demon Lord.


Fate is the essential difference that marks you as an adventurer, rather than an ordinary run-of-the-mill citizen.  Adventurer characters have a destiny, a mission, a definite goal in life. You may not be aware of what this is. It may not be very glorious, it may not even be particularly pleasant, but you are is marked out by the gods to do it – whatever it is.

Because you are marked by destiny, you are unlikely to be cut in two by the first goblin to swing an axe in your direction – you are marked for better things!  To represent this, characters are allotted a number of boons, which can be used during the game to save them from serious injury or death.    With this option, a character starts with 1 boon at 1st level. Each time the character gains a level, he loses any unspent boons and gains a new total equal to half his character’s level (rounding down, minimum of 1).

A boon allows the character to add a d6 to a d20 roll they make. A bane imposes a -d6 on any d20 roll. This can be declared after the roll is made but before the results are known. A d20 can only be modified once by a boon or bane die. A player can spend a boon die in the following ways:

  • 1 boon can be used as a boon on any attack roll, ability check, skill check or saving throw.
  • 1 boon can be used to prevent death, however, the PC automatically losses 1 CON and the equivalent Will to Live number*.
  • 1 boon can be used as a boon or bane on another creature’s d20 roll (so any PC, NPC or Mob).
  • 1 boon can be used along with a bonus action to spend a Hit Dice to heal yourself.  The healing effect of this hit die is maximised.
  • 1 boon may be used to gain an additional reaction.
  • 1 boon may be used to “have a flash of insight” to automatically figure out a problem – like a puzzle, or remembering a bit of relevant historical information etc.
  • 2 boons may be used to score a critical hit.
  • 3 boons can be consumed to get an automatic success on any attack roll, ability check, skill check or saving throw.
  • All boons can be used to change the narrative and overrule the DM (minimum of 1 boon per PC, DM’s discretion).

PCs may earn boons (or banes) if they play within their alignment and/or some other character trait like a bond or flaw. They are also rewards from defeating powerful enemies.

* Will to live is my way of tracking how many resurrections a PC can endure before they die permanently. This is represented by the characters original CON score.
Posted in Dungeons & Dragons, House Rules, The Ninth World


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