YOU ARE DEAD (or Hardcore/AD&D for D&D 5e House Rules)

Collected rules for my 5e game.

To keep the game feeling like sword and sorcery (and challenging the whole campaign), the following AD&D-inspired rules will be in play.

  • Everyone starts at level 0 as a nobody.
  • Character stats and races are determined randomly via a character funnel.  Though there is no restriction on class, your ability scores should influence what you pick – no point in becoming a cleric with 8 Wisdom.
  • There is no Darkvision, all references to Darkvision are replaced with Infravision:
    • Infravision.  Infravision is the ability to see into the infrared spectrum. Thus heat radiation becomes visible, and temperature differences allow infrared sight. Warm things are bright, cool things grey, and very cold things are black. Dungeon-dwelling monsters tend to have infravision to 120 feet. All infravision is spoiled if a light source is shedding illumination upon the creature possessing the infrared sight capability. Similarly, great heat will spoil the capability. Thieves hiding in shadows are successful concerning infravision only if there is a heat/light source nearby to mask their body heat or a very cold object or radiation to provide similar cover.
  • Ability score bonuses from class progression cap out at 18, not 20.
  • Max HP level is 10. This is to avoid the silliness of high-level play and keep the math simple. No more HPs after this except through in-game rewards. You do get max HPs at level 1. Monsters are unchanged, which makes them truly deadly at higher levels. Martial characters get 3 hps for each level after 10, and non-martial characters get 1 hp per level from 11 to 20+; others get +2.  CON bonus no longer applies to hps from level 11.
  • When reduced to 0 hit points, your party has until your next turn to save you; if not, you die.
  • Resurrection magic exists, but it always drains 1 CON from the target and permanently fails if the target fails to make a DC 15 CON saving throw. Familiars and animal companions can be automatically be resurrected and automatically lose 1 CON. True resurrection grants advantage on the CON saving throw.
  • Every character gets one action per round only. There are no bonus actions; reactions are OK. Edge cases will be adjudicated by the DM. Examples:
    • Disengage bonus action for rogues is fine.
    • Healing word bonus action is fine.  Though 5e has a ton of healing, the other rules already make the game deadly.
  • Martial classes with extra attacks are a little different. For each attack they make, they instead add a die of damage to their attack. This extra die can be applied to the same or adjacent target. The following exceptions/changes per class:
    • Monk. No change; they work exactly like the 5e class reflecting their speed with their fists and feet.
    • Fighter. You gain the through damage trait. If you overkill an enemy (do more damage than the target has) additional damage spills over against another target within range and of the same AC.
    • Ranger. You gain your full complement of attacks against your favoured enemy.
    • Paladin. You gain your full complement of attacks against the “unholy” creature of your oath/religion.  This will usually be undead.
  • Multiclassing is only applicable to demi-human races per this table. Humans can dual class.
  • Humans can have unlimited levels, demi-human races are level capped and class restrictions per this PDF.
  • Thou shall not feats (i.e., no feats). Feats are narrative-driven and rewarded via story/gaming directly. For example, a colossal magic axe that provides the iron-hand feat.
  • Encumbrance is a thing. You can carry a number of items equal to your STR with no issues. These slots represent your backpack/storage items on hand. Carrying over this amount means you are encumbered, and all ability checks (and related skill and combat checks) have Disadvantage – your movement is reduced by 5′ for every point of encumbrance over your STR.  For more generic items like treasure (or other edge cases), 500 gp or 5 items is equivalent to 1 slot.  Backpacks give you a bonus of 5 slots. To retrieve an item in combat, you roll 1d6; you retrieve your item on a 6 and can use it the same turn.  You get a +1 per free slot you have, and +1 for each round spent rummaging.  Fighters (and their subclasses) can add their STR and CON together to determine the number of slots they can carry.
  • There is no attunement.
  • Concentration exists but concentration spells stack.  That is, you can cast multiple concentration spells at once, but if you are forced to make a check, you make a check for all of them.
  • Spellcasting and shooting a bow in melee reach of an enemy provokes an attack of opportunity.
  • Shooting into melee is done with disadvantage. On a natural 1, the archer rolls a 1d6, on a 1-4 they hit another target instead of the intended target.  Determine the new target randomly.
  • All natural 1s are automatic failures, all natural 20s are automatic successes. Critical hits do an additional 1d12 damage.
  • PHB spells only.  Other spells may be discovered via adventuring, a mentor/master/teacher, or research. Wizards do not gain spells automatically – they must discover them through adventuring, learn them from a master or research them themselves (divine casters can also research new spells).  Research rules are here (replace any mention of silver pieces with gold pieces).
  • Cantrips and Orisons (level 0 spells) can only be cast if the caster makes a DC 10 ability check using their casting ability; otherwise, they are lost for the day.
  • Use the slow healing rules from the 5e DMG (link). That is, characters don’t regain hit points at the end of a long rest. Instead, a character can spend Hit Dice to heal at the end of a long rest.  A short rest provides no healing; it only exists for classes dependent on short rests mechanically.
  • Magic is different by class:
    • Wizards and Druids use Vancian magic.  That is, spells are memorised by slots; once cast, they are gone.
    • Clerics use standard 5e rules.  However, their spells fail on a natural 1, and they lose them for the day (or long, at the DM’s discretion) and must pay penance.  During a long or short rest, the cleric can spend 100gp per spell level (representing sacrifices) to appease their god and get their spell back.
    • Sorcerers are a unique class that can be found here.
    • Warlocks also use the base 5e class but are more heavily customised to match their patron, an example here.
  • Only Rogues can disarm/detect/set traps.
  • Where there is a mechanical effect or flavour related to a spell in AD&D that does not exist in 5e, the restriction/mechanics from 1e takes precedence.  For example, haste ages the caster 1 year, resurrection magic cripples a cleric for one week and so on.  The DM will point these out.
  • Arcane magic can misfire on a natural 1; roll on the miscast table here.
  • There is a 100 gp per level per month of living expenses to be paid on the 1st of each month. This cost covers mundane things but also covers the cost of identifying magic items (either through a sage or the spell).
  • GP = XP.
  • Magic items also provide XP (per the 1e DMG or C&C CK Guide).
  • Use 1e AD&D style XP progression charts (link). Once you gain enough XP to reach your next level, you stop gaining XP until you train (if you use the 5e xp tables, all monster xp should be reduced by 90%).

 

  • Item wastage due to massive damage can happen when a character is struck with enough force. If the attack affords a saving throw and you fail, you must roll for each item you carry to see if it’s destroyed.  You do this by slot, but containers that make the saving throw protect items stored in them. The DC is the CR of the attacking creature or a minimum of 10 by default. Magic items have an advantage on this saving throw and can add their plusses (if any) to the roll.  A natural 1 is always a failure, and a natural 20 is always a pass. Examples of damage types that can cause item destruction:
    • AOE. Any effect that requires a saving throw to avoid or mitigate the damage can destroy items on a failed saving throw – fireball, lightning bolt, dragon breath etc.
    • Blow, Massive. If you suffer massive damage that causes instant death.
    • Force. For example, disintegration spell. If the damage type is force, non-magical items are instantly destroyed, and magic items only get their plusses (if any) to the item saving throw.
  • It costs time and money (training) to level up, similar to AD&D 1e/2e rules.
    • You use your current level for all calculations.
    • It takes 1 week per level modified by your WIS ability score bonus to train for your next level (1-week minimum, 4 weeks maximum).
    • It costs 100 gp per level per week.
    • You can self-train for free, but it always takes you 8 weeks.
    • You can also condense the training to 1 week by doubling the final cost of training. For example, to train for level 5 as a fourth-level character it will cost 400gp (current level * 100gp) and take 4 weeks for a character with a +0 WIS bonus. Say the same character wants to push themselves and finish the training in 1 week. The final cost will be 800gp.
    • Once you get to named level (level 10), you no longer need a mentor to train, and it costs the following:
      • DIVINE/HYBRID = 2,000/level/week (vestments & largess).
      • MARTIAL = 1,000/level/week (tithes & largess).
      • ARCANE = 4,000/level/week (equipment, books, experiments, etc).
      • THIEF/MONK (Rogue) = 2,000/level/week (tools, equipment, etc).

Rules of Convenience

  • All loot will be measured in gp and the gp price quoted is the item’s sale price. Purchasing goods and services will still use all denominations (cp, sp, ep, gp and pp).
  • There is no bounded math; monsters can have 39 AC, PCs can have +5 swords, and so on.

Ninth World Specific changes

  • Real-time passes in between sessions.  That is, one week of real-time means one week has passed in the game world.  At the table, any number of days can be abstracted away.
  • We use group initiative. Everyone rolls a raw d20; the highest number goes first, and then combat proceeds clockwise around the table. The DM may use advantage or other mechanics to even the playing field, but normally, should just roll a single d20.
  • I use Target DCs for all encounters, that is, 1 number representing all the creatures, traps etc., AC and DCs. A boon and/or bane may influence this number. A 1d4 timer will also be used to indicate how many rounds before something (usually) bad happens.
  • Rangers may add their proficiency bonus to damage rolls against their favoured enemy.
  • Clerics are pure spell casters.  They do not start with any armour proficiency.  However, their spells are not limited by armour.  This puts them in the same camp as priests at a church/temple or cathedral.  The warrior priest and undead hunter archetype are filled by the paladin class.
  • When used, all non-consumable magic items (including items with charges) fail on a natural 1 in 20.  This reflects the fact that all magic is actually ancient technology with the current population of the world, with some exceptions like magic users, have no idea how to recreate or recharge these items.  There may be ways to recharge them, but it won’t be easy.  The exception are “plusses”.  Items with plusses, even if other traits fail, always retain their plusses.
  • Carousing is a generic term used to reflect a PCs downtime activity.  If a character spends downtime doing things appropriate for their class, they gain xp equal to the number of gp spent.  For example, a wizard building a laboratory and spending time researching would gain xp, a rogue doing a heist, a fighter training a squire and so forth.

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