Dimgaard campaign – Houserule miscellany

Attuned Items

Attuning and de-attuning

A short rest is required for each and these cannot be taken in one “go” – but if a long rest can be taken, both operations can be considered achieved.

Familiar, beast companion

Your own maximum of three attuned items includes those you assign to a familiar or companion.

Checks – reductile instead of 4e

The principle of reductile checks is that a result of 1 or 2 means a fail and a drop to the next dice size down. Failing on a d4 is final failure.

The initial dice size relates to skill base, including features and ability bonuses.

  • 13+, d12
  • 9+, d10
  • 5+, d8
  • 1+, d6
  • Worse, d4

Where the challenge requires three successes, rather than just one, and it still makes sense to ask for that, the three need to be in a row.

Initiative 1

Each character rolls initiative using the normal PHB d20+ DEX modifier, and adds the highest of their feat or gadget based modifier, or proficiency.

The implication of this: as character levels increase, the advantage of having Alert feat’s +5 to initiative reduces, though it’s still better.

In a different 5E campaign, I would also be perfectly happy using something like the character’s middle modifier out of DEX, WIS and INT, plus the best of proficiency or Alert. I would not like to use Perception, because I don’t like systems where one skill dominates all others.

Initiative 2

The DM may choose to operate in order of appearance. Examples include single file into a restricted view, or plunging one at a time down a chute.

With standard initiative, at the rolling phase, a player character can choose to REDUCE down to next after any one other PC.

Inspiration

The main variant from RAW options on Inspiration is the usage rule. In my Dimgaard campaign, Inspiration works exactly like a benny or fate point: a player can choose to spend it after seeing the initial roll result. One d20 is rerolled.

If the character already had advantage, it acts as a third d20, or double advantage. I guess if a player wanted to they could use Inspiration to cancel disadvantage before rolling, but I don’t think anyone has done that since season one.

Just like RAW, a player can choose to donate their character’s Inspiration to another character. It’s supposed to be role-played but so far, no-one has role-played it. It’s just been “Seck gives Cat his Inspiration,” kind of thing.

For the first five seasons of Dimgaard I used Inspiration to encourage roleplaying character background and development, focusing on Flaws in particular, because they drive a narrative arc. Then, at the beginning of season six, I said (in effect) “guys, I love the narrative, but two characters are headed towards serious mental disorders or manias. That’s going to be a chore for me, and I’m not sure you would enjoy it.” Three players voted to not go there. So now there aren’t consequences for flaws, so I’m not awarding Inspiration for that.

Persuasion and reputation

An ascending mechanic fits on top of Persuasion, seduction, and sometimes Deception. It represents reaction to reputation. It has the same “fail on a 1 or 2” as the reductile mechanic.

Rep is expressed in dice, related to fame:

  • None ie starting out, d4
  • Village heroes, d6 locally
  • County heroes, d8 locally, d6 in the main center
  • Region heroes, d10 across the region, d8 adjacent regions
  • Realm heroes, d12

There’s always a chance that the person you are addressing just doesn’t like you, your smell/accent; whatever!

Saves – progression avoided if possible

I really dislike inflicting a sequence of saving throw rolls on players and look to “one roll” options.

Example: the DMG outlines the chase sequence where characters run away from/in pursuit of some other agent. One a character uses 3+CON modifier dash actions, it’s a DC10 CON check (not SV) or gain one level of “temporary” exhaustion. All levels recover on a short rest, though for preference if someone hits five levels and simply can’t go on, that sounds like one “real” level to me.

I would rather assign one resistance SV after a prolonged burst. “Make a DC12 CON SV” – “made it!” “Great! OK your lungs are burning but you haven’t lost any speed.”

I use this approach on forced march and similar efforts too. Carrying heavy gear in poor conditions is the life of many a medieval soldier and yes, such soldiers did fall out of the line of march and collapse or simply get left behind. But why would you want to do that SV (not check) each hour? Wouldn’t the weaker character signal that not all is well, or the more perceptive character figure that the weaker is going to need help? I look to one SV and then to supplementary information that makes the team pull together, or else fall apart. That’s part of the exploration pillar.

Sidekicks

Sidekicks are disestablished.

Supplements

Official only, and only at DM’s discretion. At present no Barovia, no MTG/Ravnica, and no anachronisms.

Fatigue and temporary exhaustion

A related mechanism that I’ve used in espionage/social elements is stress from attempting a task under speed or from attempting to outwit a social adversary. I believe it would be possible to harmonize with the above chase and march check/SV but have not fully thought it through.

Under this approach the character attempts the DC, or makes a resisted check for social adversaries. If they win, fine. If they do not but are close, they have the option of “upping the ante” at the cost of temporary exhaustion. So far as I’ve tested, a d6 on top of the original roll has sufficed. But one could look at a d4 for momentary inspiration (like a Bless effect) a d8 for high levels of risk (like a bardic effect) and so on.