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JoeJ
2016-05-10, 03:27 PM
I've had a request to share these house rules, so I'm posting in case anybody else is interested as well.

My goal with these changes is to be able to run a D&D game inspired by the King Arthur legend, particularly as portrayed by Sir Thomas Malory. It's not literally a King Arthur setting that I'm aiming for, but a world of my own that has that same feel. I actually ran a campaign like this long ago, using 2e AD&D rules after I couldn't find enough people willing to learn Pendragon, and so I was curious to see if I could come up with something similar in 5e. To my great surprise, it turned out to actually be less work that it was in 2e.

Most people reading this will no doubt notice that I have hugely nerfed every kind of spell caster. This is deliberate! Magic in this campaign is supposed to be overshadowed by martial prowess. Players coming to this game should expect Excalibur, not Harry Potter.

Anyway, here are the rules. Oh, and you should probably listen to this music (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3cXcS49D64) while you read them:

Player characters must be human, although there are three different cultures to choose from in the main campaign area. PCs must begin at 1st level with armor proficiency in medium armor and shields, and weapon proficiency in lance and some type of sword. There are no specific background limits, but PCs should come from the upper class and be suitable to be knighted.

The feats and multiclassing optional rules are in use, as are the Honor rules found on pp. 264-265 of the Dungeon Masterís Guide.

The training to gain levels rules on p. 131 of the Dungeon Masterís Guide are in use. Players who want to multiclass must declare what class they intend to enter at least one full level ahead of time, so that opportunities to obtain the necessary skills can be played out.

The monk and sorcerer classes do not exist. Warlocks and wizards exist, but are not available for PCs. The Arcane Trickster, Battle Rager, Eldritch Knight, and Oathbreaker Paladin subclasses are not available.

Every player character gains Mounted Combatant as a bonus feat at 1st level. The Crossbow Expert feat does not exist. The benefits of the Polearm Master feat only apply when wielding the weapon using both hands.

Christianity and two different pagan religions exist, and I strongly recommend that all of the clerics and paladins in the party belong to the same religion (which one is up to the players). Death, Light, Tempest, and Trickery domains are not available, but the Arcana domain is. A cleric of any religion may choose any allowed domain.

Transforming into or out of Wild Shape requires a full minute for druids of any circle. The Elemental Wild Shape trait of Circle of the Moon druids does not function.

The spectral vines created by the Natureís Wrath option for the Channel Divinity ability of the Oath of the Ancients exist only in the mind of the target and can not be seen by anyone else. The ability otherwise works as described.

Rangers must have actually been in a particular type of terrain before choosing it as a favored terrain. There is no arctic, desert, or Underdark in close proximity to the campaignís starting location.

Choice of a ranger's favored enemy should take into account that aberrations, oozes, and humanoids other than humans are not likely to be encountered with any frequency.

Inspiration can be accumulated as points. Player characters begin with 1 point of inspiration at the beginning of each game session, and can gain more through roleplay (see Playerís Handbook p. 125 for details). Inspiration must be spent during the same session in which it is earned. Any remaining unused inspiration at the end of the session is lost. No more than 1 point of inspiration may be used on any roll of the dice.

You can gain inspiration by roleplaying your personality traits, ideal, bond, or flaw in a way that causes a story complication, or makes things more difficult. You also gain inspiration if the DM uses your personality traits, ideal, bond, or flaw to create a complication. Medieval stories about knights usually show the characters inspired and driven by their passions, so player characters should be doing this frequently.

Remember also that a player character who has inspiration can give that inspiration to another player character, which is yet another way you can get it.

Magic is a lot more subtle than it is in the most D&D worlds. Flashy spells like Fireball donít exist, and most of those spells that do exist take longer to cast. Too long to be cast during combat, in most cases.

Casting times of most spells are increased by 1 increment. That is, casting times of 1 Action or 1 Bonus Action become 1 minute, casting times of 1 minute become 10 minutes, casting times of 10 minutes become 1 hour, and casting times of 1 hour become 8 hours. Spells with casting times of 8 hours or more, or those that are cast as reactions remain unaffected. Casting time increases apply only to the actual casting of spells, not the use of spell slots for other purposes (a paladinís Divine Smite, for example). Spell duration is also increased in the same way, although Instaneous duration spells are not affected, nor (obviously) are spells that last until dispelled.

The following spells from the Playerís Handbook do not exist:

Acid Splash, Antilife Shell, Arcane Gate, Armor of Agathys, Arms of Hadar, Awaken, Banishing Smite, Banishment, Barkskin, Bigbyís Hand, Blade Barrier, Blight, Blinding Smite, Blindness/Deafness, Blink, Blur, Branding Smite, Burning Hands, Call Lightning, Chill Touch, Chromatic Orb, Circle of Death, Clone, Cloud of Daggers, Cloudkill, Color Spray, Cone of Cold, Conjure Barage, Conjure Volley, Control Water, Cordon of Arrows, Create Food and Water, Create or Destroy Water, Crown of Madness, Darkness, Daylight, Delayed Blast Fireball, Demiplane, Destruction Wave, Dimension Door, Disintegrate, Divine Word, Drawmijís Instant Summons, Earthquake, Eldritch Blast, Ensnaring Strike, Entangle, Etherealness, Evardís Black Tentacles, Expeditious Retreat, Fabricate, Faerie Fire, Find Steed, Finger of Death, Fireball, Fire Bolt, Fire Shield, Fire Storm, Flame Blade, Flame Strike, Flaming Sphere, Flesh to Stone, Fly, Forcecage, Gaseous Form, Giant Insect, Globe of Invulnerability, Glyph of Warding, Grasping Vine, Grease, Guardian of Faith, Guards and Wards, Guiding Bolt, Gust of Wind, Hail of Thorns, Harm, Haste, Heat Metal, Hellish Rebuke, Holy Aura, Hunger of Hadar, Hypnotic Pattern, Ice Storm, Incendiary Cloud, Inflict Wounds, Insect Plague, Jump, Leomundís Secret Chest, Leomundís Tiny Hut, Levitate, Light, Lightning Arrow, Lightning Bolt, Mage Hand, Magic Missile, Magic Mouth, Maze, Meld Into Stone, Melfís Acid Arrow, Mending, Meteor Swarmm Mirror Image, Misty Step, Moonbeam, Mordenkainenís Faithful Hound, Mordenkainenís Magnificent Mansion, Mordenkainenís Sword, Move Earth, Otilukeís Freezing Sphere, Otilukeís Resilient Sphere, Passwall, Plane Shift, Plant Growth, Poison Spray, Power Word Kill, Power Word Stun, Prismatic Spray, Prismatic Wall, Produce Flame, Raise Dead, Raryís Telepathic Bond, Ray of Enfeeblement, Ray of Frost, Ray of Sickness, Reincarnate, Resurrection, Reverse Gravity, Rope Trick, Sacred Flame, Scorching Ray, Searing Smite, Shatter, Shocking Grasp, Silence, Sleet Storm, Slow, Spider Climb, Spiritual Weapon, Stinking Cloud, Storm of Vengeance, Sunbeam, Sunburst, Swift Quiver, Telekinesis, Teleport, Teleportation Circle, Tenserís Floating Disk, Thorn Whip, Thunderous Smite, Thunderwave, Time Stop, Transport via Plants, Tree Stride, True Resurrection, Tsunami, Vampiric Touch, Wall of Fire, Wall of Force, Wall of Ice, Wall of Stone, Water Walk, Web, Wind Walk, Wind Wall, Wish, Witch Bolt, Word of Recall.

The effects of the prohibited spells listed above may, in some cases, occur as miracles, or be created by magic items.

Those spells that do exist generally donít have special effects that are immediately recognizable as unnatural unless they are essential to the working of the spell. So, for example Feather Fall will still make someone fall slowly, but Alarm produces a snapping twig or an animal call instead of the sound of a bell, and Shield simply causes the target to dodge or parry a bit better that round.

Casting a spell as a ritual generally involves remaining in the same place so that components can be positioned, symbols drawn on the ground, etc. It canít be done while walking or riding a horse (although it could be done while riding in a wagon or on a ship).

Spells from sources other than the Playerís Handbook can not be learned or cast unless they are encountered in play. No character can start off being able to cast them.

I will often use a map to help keep track of locations during combat, but the grid is only there to help in measuring distances. Movement, positioning, and spell effects are not restricted by grid lines or spaces.

I will be using the Action Options, Hitting Cover, Cleaving Through Creatures, Injuries, and Morale rules found on pp. 271-273 of the Dungeon Masterís Guide.

To unhorse a mounted character, whether in a joust or serious battle, make a shoving attack. A creature that is successfully pushed or knocked prone is knocked off their mount. The dismounted rider falls prone and must make a DC 10 Dexterity save to avoid taking 1d6 falling damage.

Some weapons are so simple that nearly anybody can create one in just a few minutes. Any character that has proficiency with club, quarterstaff, or sling can manufacture the weapon for free provided only that they have access to materials and a suitable cutting tool. This requires a few minutes, and can not be done in combat.

There are no gunpowder weapons and no explosives.

The renown rules on pp. 22-23 of the Dungeon Masterís Guide are used as an indication of the degree to which characters have distinguished themselves in service to their leige lord. Only characters who have sworn service to some lord can gain renown.

Mithril and adamantine do not exist. Platinum has not been discovered (in our world it was first brought to Europe from South America in the mid 1500s).

Death saving throws for characters who are at 0 hit points are not made until the character is healed or checked on, at which time all the accumulated saves for the number of rounds since they fell are rolled at once. Characters who survive after failing one or more death saving throws must roll on the Lingering Injury table on p. 272 of the Dungeon Masterís Guide.

Use of a healerís kit is necessary in order to spend hit dice after a short rest, as described on p. 266 of the Dungeon Masterís Guide.

Final Hyena
2016-05-10, 04:07 PM
As was your intent you've nerfed magic into the ground, but not smite or wild shape.

I would be concerned that spellcasting classes are as good as dead, except that someone will want to try them to see if they can make it work or to be unique, but will be disappointed by the result.

An alternative is to ban all spellcasting classes/archetypes and make magic something that can be discovered and learnt through the campaign.

2D8HP
2016-05-10, 04:33 PM
This is awesome!!:smallbiggrin:
Thanks!
I've also been toying with the idea of different regions (Faerie and the "world"?) having different types and levels of Magic available so that I Spellcasters may find that they can cast some spells in one place but not in another.
P. S. Thanks for the music link! I saw "Excalibur" in the theater when it came out (with my mom, to my shame) and it still seems as BADASS now as then! Most Hella Metal (if anyone still says that)!
Helen Mirren never looked better (even if she has grown even more badass!!! since), and I'm pretty sure it's not a coincidence that the woman I married looks a bit like Cherie Lunghi (YOWZA!).

JoeJ
2016-05-10, 09:58 PM
As was your intent you've nerfed magic into the ground, but not smite or wild shape.

I would be concerned that spellcasting classes are as good as dead, except that someone will want to try them to see if they can make it work or to be unique, but will be disappointed by the result.

An alternative is to ban all spellcasting classes/archetypes and make magic something that can be discovered and learnt through the campaign.

The idea is that if a character learns magic it will be just a few tricks to supplement their melee skills. I don't think anybody could look at these rules and think that a primary spell caster could be effective in combat

The basic premise of the campaign is that the PCs are knights, and every player would be aware of that going in. If somebody really really wanted to play an advisor or other supporting character I'd probably allow it, but only after making sure they understood the limitations of that role.

Venardhi
2016-05-11, 01:03 AM
I ran a 3.5 campaign years ago where everyone started as a "mundane" classes (they were soldiers from a defeated invading army in an unfamiliar land, left to die by friends and foes alike) and could only wield magic through pursuing story hooks to gain levels in those classes in-game. A rogue took up Druidic ways after they cleansed a corrupted forest in the first few adventures, a Fighter became a Paladin after an encounter with a fallen Cleric soon after, another was awoken into a Psychic Warrior by a traumatic incident during some plane-hopping shenanigans a while after that, etc. Each of them got their own plot arc that made them really value their new abilities and feel like they had achieved something and I got some really interesting solutions out of them during both combat and puzzle encounters because they didn't have a wizard or cleric to give them an easy way out (though the opportunities to become either were there). The best part was that they made these choices organically as part of the campaign rather than asking to become X or Y. They saw the opportunities I was presenting and took advantage of them.

I'm not sure what I originally meant to write before I got distracted by reminiscing, but this kind of limiting of options can really bring a campaign to life IMO. I wish you luck!

Knaight
2016-05-11, 10:15 AM
Some weapons are so simple that nearly anybody can create one in just a few minutes. Any character that has proficiency with club, quarterstaff, or sling can manufacture the weapon for free provided only that they have access to materials and a suitable cutting tool. This requires a few minutes, and can not be done in combat.

I'd be inclined to add a poor quality class for these, along with shoddy versions of other weapons - something like a -1 to attack and damage. You can make a club, quarterstaff, or sling in a few minutes, sure. It's not going to be nearly as good as ones made more carefully, and that takes longer. Plus, it helps with the whole Arthurian knight thing. A knight is likely to have well made equipment, some Saxon barbarian is probably going to be using something crappy. It also reflects how Britain was a bit of a backwater, how the technological sophistication of the King Arthur stories is below that of the late medieval milieu that D&D generally pulls from. There are other changes I'd make to better emulate the literature as well. A few notable ones:

Cut down on the armor list a bit. It's the age of mail, and the non-mail metal armors just don't fit the setting.
When characters are dropped, having something for armor damage is a good idea. There's a lot of cleaving through helms and mail in Mallory, and even in de Troyes there's a fair bit.
Add a mechanism that strengthens horses, particularly for high level characters. This might be having different breeds, some of which are more expensive than others. More likely, it's something like an HP boost to horses based on character level. How often does Lancelot or Gawain get unhorsed by some chump? Not very.
Pick creatures carefully. Most of the monsters are way out of place, especially the humanoid ones. Goblins just don't fit, and while there's the ocassional mythical beast (the Questing Beast stands out here, along with that dragon), mostly you have people and animals. The animals are important too - you need your snakes, your european lions, your deer. How else is Yvain/Owain going to happen?
For metals, it's worth observing that you've still got some bronze in places, and then there's a distinction to be made between iron and steel.

2D8HP
2016-05-11, 01:06 PM
Pick creatures carefully. Most of the monsters are way out of place, especially the humanoid ones. Goblins just don't fit, and while there's the ocassional mythical beast (the Questing Beast stands out here, along with that dragon), mostly you have people and animals. The animals are important too - you need your snakes, your european lions, your deer. How else is Yvain/Owain going to happen?

While the "Weird Tales REH/Lovecraft ("Tower of the Elephant etc.) monsters that inspired a lot of D&D seem out of place, they are supernatural events in Mallory, Breton and British local legends have Arthur battling Giants, The Mabinogion has some weird elements, and in "Sir*Gawain and the Green Knight", after the "beheading game", the Green Knight picks up his severed head and reminds Gawain that his beheading is in a year and a day. Not exactly human!
As to how to have an otherworldly "Faerie" vibe without getting too "Creature Features" might be tricky. Maybe watch "Excalibur" and "Conan the Destroyer" to see the difference? Or pick up the old Pendragon adventure "The Grey Knight" (sorry I don't know more recent examples, I'm from the 20th century).
http://www.nocturnal-media.com/store/king-arthur-pendragon-the-grey-knight

Knaight
2016-05-11, 03:32 PM
While the "Weird Tales REH/Lovecraft ("Tower of the Elephant etc.) monsters that inspired a lot of D&D seem out of place, they are supernatural events in Mallory, Breton and British local legends have Arthur battling Giants, The Mabinogion has some weird elements, and in "Sir*Gawain and the Green Knight", after the "beheading game", the Green Knight picks up his severed head and reminds Gawain that his beheading is in a year and a day. Not exactly human!

Like I said, there is the occasional mythical creature, it's just a matter of using them carefully.

Wulfskadi
2016-05-11, 10:11 PM
You might want to consider adding and/or requiring the usage of alternate druid circles such as the circle of the fountain or the circle of the beast.

The circle of the fountain allows the character to imbue mundane water with healing energy which could help balance the abnormally long casting times and allow faster magical healing. Additionally such characters can be holy grail or lady of the lake themed healer characters.

The circle of the beast allows for an animal companion which (if I do say so myself) is much more versatile than that of the ranger. this gives an animal tamer feel

Additionally You could alter the wild shape feature to function on the companion instead of on the druid. This would match the kind of celtic summoning theme I think your going for.

Links below. If they don't work check the DnD website, links for free* download are there somewhere

*do not distribute/sell this stuff (for monetary or otherwise self gain), it aint mine and it sure aint yours

file:///C:/Users/winickerson/Downloads/Druid_Circle_-_Circle_of_the_Beast_(8971940).pdf

file:///C:/Users/winickerson/Downloads/Druid_Circle_-_Circle_of_the_Fountain_(8971973).pdf

JoeJ
2016-05-13, 03:49 AM
Some good ideas. Thanks everyone. :)

On the monsters, beasts, fey, giants, some undead, some lycanthropes, and the occasional dragon would be appropriate. Goblins work if you change the type from humanoid to fey and describe the nimble escape trait in a way that makes it sound a bit uncanny. Still, the most common enemies, by a wide margin, would be other humans.

I can't see having a penalty for making your own club, quarterstaff, or sling. With bounded accuracy, -1 is much too bit to model the difference between a tree branch and a different tree branch.

I'll check out the new druid circles, but I don't really want to add more options for spell casting classes in a game that focuses heavily on knights.

Wulfskadi
2016-05-13, 03:17 PM
I'll check out the new druid circles, but I don't really want to add more options for spell casting classes in a game that focuses heavily on knights.

I suggested them more as a possible replacement or for usage in NPC's as the classic druid circles may be OP or not fit in in a magic limited campaign

Knaight
2016-05-14, 11:25 PM
I can't see having a penalty for making your own club, quarterstaff, or sling. With bounded accuracy, -1 is much too bit to model the difference between a tree branch and a different tree branch.
-1 is still a small difference, and I'm not saying it should be a penalty for making your own so much as a penalty for making your own really hastily. It's the difference between "I need a staff in a minute, so I'm grabbing the nearest reasonably sized and shaped stick, cutting all major protrusions after it, and calling it a day" versus "I need a staff, I'm going to cut down a tree, cut the tree into sections, and make a staff out of one of them". Or in the case of slings, it's the difference between "I need a sling now, so I'm grabbing the nearest reasonably sized scrap of leather, tying string around it on both sides, and then tying a knot on one end and a loop on the other" and "I need a sling, so I'm going to braid one top down, and if the pouch isn't part of the braid it's going to be carefully shaped and attached well".

Wulfskadi
2016-05-15, 10:22 PM
Instead of making a list of prohibited spells, could you make a list of allowed spells, so when we DM we can add what we want instead of going through the entire list and seeing what makes sense and what doesn't for our particular campaign

DeadpanSal
2016-05-16, 05:17 AM
I'd skip out on spells as defined entirely instead. Rather than defining what spells do and don't exist in the world sounds like way too much overhead.

Maybe you should figure out what you want magic to accomplish instead and come up with something that isn't as categorical as D&D's spell list. So instead of deciding if you want feather fall or Cure Light, maybe you can instead figure out what effects magic can have on the world and determine the cost of each component.

Like a spell can never be used for damaging purposes. But a spell can always be cosmetic at a low cost (It looks like you make the premium for powerful spells a time component), glamours on a sword for instance. A spell that offers protection sounds pretty vital to the campaign world, so I'd figure that out first. Just going from that, a spell that makes a shield shiny and gives it +2 AC starts at an hour casting time (again, an arbitrary guess). The cosmetic effect doesn't cost any more time, but each +1 doubles the casting time and material components.

Uh...hope that's a worthwhile idea.

Wulfskadi
2016-05-16, 12:32 PM
I would like the list, because what this guy has done with the spells is a good idea.

It provides me a baseline with which to limit spell casters, but I can't sort through the information, it's not in an efficient formatting for others to use.

Normally I'd just do the work myself, but that would only give me the list, not all the others who use this site or the people in the future who will look at this post and go "huh, that's a great idea"


Your idea, Master of Aeons, is a good one, however it is complicated, it is too open for alteration.

This system is made to resemble the 5e simplicity aspect, while giving it an Arthurian theme. Adding unnecessary complications would be. Illogical.

JoeJ
2016-05-16, 02:00 PM
Instead of making a list of prohibited spells, could you make a list of allowed spells, so when we DM we can add what we want instead of going through the entire list and seeing what makes sense and what doesn't for our particular campaign

I don't have time right now, but it wouldn't be hard for anyone to do. Every spell in the PHB that isn't on my list is available.


I'd skip out on spells as defined entirely instead. Rather than defining what spells do and don't exist in the world sounds like way too much overhead.

Maybe you should figure out what you want magic to accomplish instead and come up with something that isn't as categorical as D&D's spell list. So instead of deciding if you want feather fall or Cure Light, maybe you can instead figure out what effects magic can have on the world and determine the cost of each component.

Like a spell can never be used for damaging purposes. But a spell can always be cosmetic at a low cost (It looks like you make the premium for powerful spells a time component), glamours on a sword for instance. A spell that offers protection sounds pretty vital to the campaign world, so I'd figure that out first. Just going from that, a spell that makes a shield shiny and gives it +2 AC starts at an hour casting time (again, an arbitrary guess). The cosmetic effect doesn't cost any more time, but each +1 doubles the casting time and material components.

Uh...hope that's a worthwhile idea.

That sounds interesting, but the point of this exercise was to use 5e with as small a set of house rules as I could reasonably make work. What you're suggesting would be a great idea if someone was creating their own system.