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Jester's 5e Ravenloft Rules (draft) 
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Jester of the Dark Comedy
Jester of the Dark Comedy
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Post Jester's 5e Ravenloft Rules (draft)
The First Draft is Done and available HERE

--Edited 03/02/2015--



With the base design for 5e in place, it's possible to start thinking about how Ravenloft might work in 5th Edition.

I'm putting some of the ideas up here for the community to look at and weigh in on. So I'm posting content as it's presentable as I write, so I can apply feedback and allow testing.

Comments can be posted HERE.

I'm currently work on some monsters, but have that document available on the Google Docs for Ravenloft Monsters. So people can comment with ideas, suggestions, and the like.

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Wed Oct 30, 2013 12:59 pm
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Jester of the Dark Comedy
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Post Fear, Horror, Madness
Madness
Insanity
Mental illness is a disease of the mind, it is injury without visible wounds or scars.

Instability
Stressful situations, unnatural creatures, and some special abilities can lead to a special condition called instability. Instability is measured in six levels. An effect can give a creature one or more levels of instability, as specified in the effect’s description.

Level Effect
1 -
2 -
3 Disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks
4 Disadvantage on Charisma checks
5 Madness gained
6 Madness intensifies

If a creature with a level of instability suffers another effect that causes instability, its current level of instability increases by the amount specified in the effect’s description. A creature suffers the effect of its current level of instability as well as all lower levels. For example, a creature suffering level 4 instability has disadvantage on Charisma checks and Wisdom (Perception) checks.
An effect that removes instability reduces its level as specified in the effect’s description, with all instability effects ending if a creature’s instability level is reduced below 1. Spending seven days of downtime recuperating allows a creature to make a DC 15 Charisma saving throw. A successful save reduces a creature’s instability level by 1. Creature needs to be in a safe and comfortable location to reduce instability through downtime. Being in a dungeon or other hostile environment imposes disadvantage on the check, while being in an asylum grants advantage. Instability cannot be removed while in an alien or inhuman environment. Spells such as greater restoration will also reduce a creature's instability level by 1.

Madnesses
Madnesses are subconditions of instability. A madness is gained when a creature reaches an instability level of 5 or higher. Creatures can only have a single madness at a time. If cured of a madness and driven insane again, a creature gains the same madness not a new madness.
The Dungeon Master and player should work together to choose an appropriate madness that fits the character. If no obvious choice of a madness, a random madness can be inflicted.
Each madness has two stages, regular and intensified. A creature reaches the first stage when they gain the madness, typically by reaching an instability level of 5. When a creature reaches an instability level of 6 the madness intensifies, moving to the second stage.
Madnesses cannot be removed while a creature has a level of instability. Once any levels of instability have been removed, spending thirty days of downtime recuperating allows a creature to make a DC 15 Charisma saving throw. A successful save removes a creature's madness, or diminishes it if the madness has intensified. Creature needs to be in a safe and comfortable location to reduce instability through downtime. Being in a dungeon or other hostile environment imposes disadvantage on the check, while being in an asylum grants advantage. Instability cannot be removed while in an alien or inhuman environment. Spells such as heal will also remove or reduce a madness.
Multiple personalities
new personality, alignment one step. roll randomly on personality traits of random background
Intensified: 1d4+1 personalities. no alignment restriction. roll randomly on personality traits of random background
Amnesia
lose bonds and flaws
Intensified: lose personality traits, can't gain inspiration. forget to use skills


Curses
Reserved for curse thoughts

Thoughts & Discussion Points
Madness
I'm currently leaning to a concept like the exhaustion rules for Sanity/Madness. So the character gains instability from certain actions, and each further exposure moves them down a step with increasing penalties. Which removes the need to track Sanity or worrying about starting Sanity.

Curses
These be hard.
Not sure if they should be an attack or a save. If a save, should it be physical (Con) or mental (Wis)? Or variable.
Maybe just a straight d20 roll. Or should curses just happen?

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Jester of the Dark Comedy
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Post Curses
Races
New Races go here

Caliban
Twisted humans, caliban were cursed birth, tainted by dark magic while still in the womb. The birth of a caliban is seen as a sign of witchcraft in the community, or that the parents performed an unnatural act so foul that it corrupted their unborn child.
Caliban Traits
Your caliban has a number of traits as a result of their magical corruption.
Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2.
Age. Caliban theoretically have a lifespan similar to humans but their hard lives force them to grow up quickly and often leads them to an early end. They reach maturity in their mid-teens and seldom live longer than 75 year.
Alignment. Caliban have the same potential for good and evil as humans, but their treatment has made them fearful of the other races and strangers, pushing them towards neutrality. Many are wary of authority and lean towards chaos rather than law.
Size. Caliban are somewhat larger and bulkier than humans but are often slouched or hunched over so their full size is not apparent. You stand between 6 and 7 feet in height and weight 150 to 250 pounds. Your size is medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Darkvision. The twisting magic has given you keen but animalistic senses. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Outsider. You gain proficiency in the Intimidate skill.
Merciless. When you score a critical hit with a melee weapon attack, you can roll one of the damage dice twice when you roll extra damage for the critical hit.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write your regional language and one extra language of your choice.
Subrace. Caliban vary greatly from land to land. As the largest region, most caliban come from the Core, but others hail from distant clusters and look remarkably different. Each caliban is still unique, but the types of deformities are quite different. Scholars theorize it is the presence of different magic or forms of corruption that make calibans look d
Core
Caliban hailing from the Core tend to be visibly deformed and common features include twisted frames, asymmetrical features, gangly limbs, or a pronounced hunchback. Caliban from the Core are particularly hardy after a lifetime of adversity.
Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 1.
Relentless Endurance. When you are reduced to 0 hit points but not killed outright, you can drop to 1 hit point instead. You can't use this feature again until you finish a short or long rest.
Verdurous
The caliban of the Verdurous Lands cluster and the island land of Rokushima Taiyoo have animalistic rather than asymmetrical features. They have either a mixture of human and bestial traits or appear as a human/beast hybrid akin to a werebeast. In fact, many Rajian caliban are slain at a young age under the mistake that they are a rakshasa or lycanthrope.
Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.
Improved Darkvision. Your darkvision increases to 120 feet.
Keen Senses. You have proficiency in the Perception skill.
Zherisian
Caliban of Paridon are albino-pale and lithe, unnaturally skinny with skin stretched tightly over their protruding bones.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 1.
Slight Frames. You add your proficiency bonus to Dexterity checks to squeeze through a tight space or escape from restraints. Additionally, whenever you make a Dexterity (Acrobatics) to escape a grapple you care considered proficient in the Acrobatics skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.
Shadowlands
Nidalan caliban look diseased, as if they were inflicted with leprosy or beset by tumours.
Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 1.
Caliban Resilience. You have advantage on saving throws against disease.

Gargoyles
As much stone as flesh, dread gargoyles are a rare and forgotten race that dwells unseen in the remnants of humanity. They lurk in ruins and graveyards, guarding the ancient grounds for reasons unknown. The origins of dead gargoyles is unknown. It is rumoured they are statues brought to life, of an evolution of the more common gargoyles. Some believe that dread gargoyles were once mortals corrupted by elemental forces, who have since forgotten they were ever human.
GargoyleTraits
Your gargoyle character has a number of traits tied to their individual strengths.
Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2.
Age. Young gargoyles grow quickly. They walk hours after hatching, attaining the size and development of a 10-year-old human by the age of 3, and reach adulthood by 15. Once they reach maturity, gargoyles age at half the rate of humans living a couple centuries.
Alignment. Gargoyles are territorial and protective, tending towards lawful alignments. They have no predilection towards good or evil.
Size. Gargoyles are taller and heavier than humans, standing well over 6 feet tall and averaging almost 250 pounds. Your size is medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Damage Resistance. You have resistance to a damage type of your choice: acid, cold, fire, lightning, or poison.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write your regional language and one extra language of your choice.
Subrace. There are three types of dread gargoyle, whose connection to the elements manifest in different ways. Flame-gazers can focus their element power into a blast of energy, sky-watchers have wings large enough to carry them aloft, and stone-lurkers can hold still enough to be mistaken for an unmoving statue.
Winged
You possess small bat-like wings that allow you to catch the air, falling without fear of injury. As you gain strength, you can catch air currents to travel short distances or even fly for a short period. Sky-watchers prefer nesting up high, and find perches with a view, living atop towers or spires. Sky-watchers tend to be passive even for gargoyles, watching the world from above and only acting if absolutely necessary.
Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.
Wings. You can use your reaction to negate falling damage. You fall at a rate of 30 feet per round for 1 minute or until you land. When you reach 3rd level, you can glide. You can use a bonus action to gain a fly speed equal to your walking speed for 10 minutes, but half your movement must be downward, either diagonal or straight down. When you reach 5th level, you can fly. You can use a bonus action to gain a fly speed equal to your walking speed for 10 minutes. Additionally, your glide speed increases to twice your walking speed.
After you use your wings to glide or fly, you cannot use them again until you complete a short rest or a long rest.

Flame-gazer
As a flame-gazer gargoyle the power of the elementals flows through you blood. It burns inside you, urging to be unleashed. You are more passionate than other gargoyles, quickly responding to threats and intruders in your territory. Flame-gazers are less subtle than other gargoyles, preferring dramatic actions or fear rather than manipulation.
Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 1.
Breath Weapon. You can use your action to exhale destructive energy. Your breath weapon uses the damage type as stoney scales ability.
When you use your breath weapon, each creature in the area of the exhalation must make a saving throw, determined by the damage type. The DC for this saving throw equals 8 + your Constitution modifier + your proficiency bonus. A creature takes 2d6 damage on a failed save, and half as much damage on a successful one. The damage increases to 3d6 at 6th level, 4d6 at 11th level, and 5d6 at 16th level.
After you use your breath weapon, you cannot use it again until you complete a short rest or a long rest.

Damage Type Breath Weapon
Acid 5 × 30ft. line (Dex.save)
Cold 15 ft. cone (Con.save)
Fire 15 ft.cone (Dex.save)
Lightning 5 × 30 ft. line (Dex.save)
Poison 15 ft.cone (Con.save)

Stone-lurker
Despite your rocky appearance you move with surprising grace. Stone-lurker gargoyles are subtle and secretive, preferring to be unseen and striking at intruders through presumed accidents or natural events, manipulating people into avoiding their territory. They are the most quiet of gargoyles, being even more patient and calm, never being hasty or letting themselves be rushed.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 1.
Lurking. You can remaining motionless for prolonged period, assuming the appearance of lifeless stone. As an action you can freeze in place, allowing you to make a Dexterity (Stealth) check to hide, even when not obscured or otherwise unseen. While you may be seen, creatures whose passive Wisdom (Perception) will assume you are an immobile statue. You can remain hidden as long as you wish, so long as you do not move or take any action. You cannot do this while being observed, and intelligent creatures familiar with an area might question the sudden appearance of a six-foot statue.

Giomorgo
Giomorgo are the offspring of a nomadic Vistani gypsy and a "giorgio"or non-Vistani. An offshoot of humanity, the Vistani are a separate people by both choice and nature. They are feared throughout the Mists for their magical powers, especially the Evil Eye. Half-Vistani possess some of the magical powers inherent to their heritage but their magic is weak as their blood is diluted.
Giomorgo Traits
Their Vistani blood gives your giomorgo character a number of traits.
Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 2.
Age. Giomorgo reach adulthood in their late teens and live less than a century.
Alignment. Giomorgo no more inherently good or evil than any other humans. However, most spend their lives alienated from society, growing to distrust authority, so giomorgo favour chaos over law.
Size. Giomorgo vary widely in height and build, from barely 5 feet to well over 6 feet tall. Regardless of your position in that range, your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Evil Eye. You know the thaumaturgy cantrip. When you reach 3rd level you can cast the bestow curse spell once per day. When you reach 5th level, you can also cast the blindness/deafness spell once per day. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
Moon Madness. During the three days the full moon, you have disadvantage on attack rolls Wisdom (Perception) checks and Intelligence (Investigation) checks, while indoors or underground.
Nature Affinity. Whenever you make an Wisdom (Survival) check related to navigating, identifying plants and animals, or starting a fire, you are considered proficient in the Survival skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write two regional languages of your choice. If raised by the Vistani you also speak Patterna. If raised by humans you gain one extra language of your choice.
Subrace. Vistani are divided into several different tribes, which are essentially very extended families. The natural talents and inclinations of a giomorgo depend on the tribe of their parent. The children of two half-Vistani have the tribe of only one parent. The children of half-Vistani are never true Vistani: the introduction of human blood irreversibly taints the bloodline.
Kaldresh
Vistani of the Kaldresh tasque are practical, concerned with trade and crafts rather than mysticism or entertainment. Kaldreshites have an unussual talent for finding conflict. Whenever blood is about to be spilled in battle, it seems the Kaldresh have arrived and are ready to sell weapons.
The three Kaldresh tribes are the Equaa, the Kamii, and the Vatraska. The Equaar are animal breeders and trainers, and their caravans are surrounded by small herds of animals. The Kamii are known for their metalworking, which has been said to rival the craft of dwarves. The Vatraska are healers and herbalists, but are known for their potions as much as their poultices.
Ability Score Increase. Your Intelligence score increases by 1.
Desensitized. You have advantage on saving throws against being frightened.
Tool Proficiency. You gain proficiency with herbalism kits or the artisan’s tools of your choice: brewer's supplies, carpenter's tools, jeweler's tools, smith’s tools, or woodcarver's tools.
Boem
The hallmark of Boemians is ostentation. They specialize in entertainment and similar services. While travelling, Boem caravans are filled with music, and members of the tasque sing as they go about their daily business. As proud as they are passionate, the Boem privately lament having to play the clowns for foolish townsfolk. When the Boem are camped, and there are no outsiders present, the Vistani are more tense and brooding and prone to telling tales of tragedy and songs of horror.
The two Boem tribes are the Corvara and the Naiat. The Corvara are natural conmen, but have little natural showmanship, instead offer unsavoury diversions such as gambling, narcotics, and cockfighting. The Naiat are skilled at training animal for show, with their dogs and horses raised to perform tricks and stunts.
Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 1.
Sly Wit. You have proficiency in the Deception skill.
Tool Proficiency. You gain proficiency with forgery kits, a musical instrument, or thieves' tools.
Manusa
Aloof and exotic, the Manusa are the smallest of the tasques. Manusa cannot be found unless they wish to be, and are said to be affected by time differently than other races. When encountered the Manusa are taciturn and reticent and their answers to questions - if any - are short and cryptic. The Manusa practice no craft and have few interactions with giorgio, but seem able to provide for themselves. When they seek out the giorgio it is because they want a service not to provide one.
The two Manusa tribes are the Canjar and the Zarovan. The Canjar are naturally magical and many have skill and creating magical items, although these are never for sale. The Zarovan are feared even by other Vistani, and have strange powers over the Mists.
Ability Score Increase. Your Intelligence score increases by 1.
Bend Time. You can take a bonus action or reaction while incapacitated. After you bend time, you cannot use it again until you complete a long rest.
Giamarga
Less common than the pairing of a Vistani and a human giorgio is one between a Vistani and an elf. Known as giamarga, most of these are normal half-elves but some take after their Vistani parents and have the ability of a giomorgo.
Unsurprisingly, giamarga are most common in lands where there are elves, such as northeastern Darkon and the misted woods around Sithicus. A curious number are also found in Tepest, Barovia, and other lands bordering the Shadow Rift.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 1.
Fey Ancestry. You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic cannot put you to sleep.

Dhampyr
Born from death, dhampyr are the offspring of the survivor of a vampire attack, such as someone almost turned into an undead but saved prior to death. Those who survive their early years face a lifetime of fear and mistrust, their pallor, unearthly reflexes, and unnatural beauty marking them as scions of the night just as surely as their sensitivity to bright lights. Dhampyr do not need to consume blood to survive, but have a desire for blood that nothing else can truly sate.
Dhampyr Traits
Your dhampyr character has several unnatural powers derived from their undead lineage.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2.
Age. Dhampyr mature at the same rate of humans but their aging slows after puberty and can live to be 450 years old. Most retain their youthful looks until their last decades, when they rapidly begin to age.
Alignment. Dhampyr have an innate hunger that pushes them to acts of violence. These desires and their inhuman nature put them at odds with society, leaning them towards chaos. Their remaining humanity means dhampyr are not automatically evil, but they have a greater tendency to darkness than other humans.
Size. Dhampyr are the same height as human but tend to be more thin and lithe than the average human. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Darkvision. Born into a twilight world, you are not inconvenienced by the night. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray
Vampiric Resistance. Your necrology gives you resistance to necrotic damage.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write your regional language and one extra language of your choice.
Subrace. The varieties of different vampire bloodlines have resulted in three types of dhampyr. The stryg is most common, with most stryg simply referred to as dhampyr. The nosferatu and obiri are related to the vampires of the same name. The former prefer to hide their existence, while the latter are harder to identify as a dhampyr and go unnoticed.

Stryg
Descended from common vampires, the stryg are often consider synonymous with perceptions of dhampyr. You have the unearthly beauty and charm of your progenitor, along with their prenatural strength. You have pale skin, sharp features, and your eyes have a slightly crimson iris that catches the light like a cat's.
Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 1.
Improved Darkvision. Your darkvision increases to 120 feet.
Tainted Blood. You know the friends cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the speak with animals spell once per day. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the misty escape spell once per day. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
Sunlight Sensitivity. You have disadvantage on attack rolls and on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to see is in direct sunlight.

Nosferatu
Kin to nosferatu vampires, you have the long life of other dhampyr but seemingly age normally, if not faster. While you retain your vigor until late in life, you eventually appear ancient and decrepit. You do not look human, being unnaturally pale, bald, and have pronounced fangs. You may have sharp canines, but some nosferatu have elongated incisors
Also known as vrykolaka, the nosferatu are a rare breed of vampire that has immortality but not eternal youth, growing ever more withered and deformed over the years. Nosferatu occasionally become infected with diseases, and while their undeath prevents them from dying it also does not cure the disease, making them into perpetual carriers.
Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 1.
Tainted Blood. You know the friends cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the disguise self spell once per day. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the spider climb spell once per day. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
Fangs. You gain a bite attack that deals 1d4 piercing damage. This counts as an unarmed attack.
Sunlight Sensitivity. You have disadvantage on attack rolls and on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to see is in direct sunlight.

Obiri
You look more human than other dhampyr, lacking red eyes, pallor, fangs, and aversion to light of other vampire-kin. You have coarse hair and are stockier than other dhampyr, but retain the agility and piercing eyes.
Obiri vampires are feared by even experienced vampire hunters. Known as daywalkers, for their ability to ignore the light of the sun, obiri possess varied powers that seem to vary between individuals. Thankfully, the obiri bloodline is rare.
Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 1.
Tainted Blood. You know the friends cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the disguise self spell once per day. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the invisibility spell once per day. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
Homeland Dependency. You are bound to your homeland, and have difficulty sleeping outside its borders. If not in your homeland, you must carry soil from birthplace or you must make a DC 15 Charisma check to take a short rest or long rest. Only a small amount of earth is needed, enough to fill a locket or small pouch.

Thoughts & Discussion Points
Caliban
The 5e caliban, like the 3e one, is pretty much the half-orc with a few names changed.
As of the last Alphas playtest 5e half-orcs don't really have a subrace so I pulled a few powers off to the side to reserve as subclass powers. The Core caliban is the half-orc and the rest are variants in various states of revising.

Gargoyle
An idea I had back when I was doing my 5e update was swapping out dragonborn for gargoyles, in the same was as caliban replace half-orcs, replacing their breath weapon with flight. But as the appeal of dragonborn was playing a dragon-man I didn't think it would scratch the same itch.

However, some people might really want the strong, charismatic race or not want to play a "half-orc"/caliban. And the idea of a gargoyle is cool. And this is meant to be the guide for anyone's Ravenloft campaign, not just mine, so I should include options I myself would not use.
Since the dragonborn are back in the PHB I thought I'd give this a try, so I could say all PHB races have some place, if optional.

Like the half-orc, there didn't seem to be a subclass for dragonborn, so I removed a power and stuck that as a subrace feature having one subrace without wings (or only small, vestigial wings) with a magical breath weapon and another that slowly gains the ability to fly. And taking a suggestion, I added a stealthy third variant.

Giomorgo
This is pretty much done apart from playtesting.
Subraces tend to be big, so I opted to divide the half-vistani into Tasque rather than Tribe. 7+ subraces was too many, especially for something that often just gives a skill.
The Manusa/Zarovan power was tricky. They often get a bonus to initiative, but that gets tricky as it modifies something that comes up in every single encounter, and isn't always useful. Initiative is swingy, being a +1-5 modified by a d20, so more often than not the initiative modifier had less impact than the d20.

Dhampyr
The Stryg are pretty much just vampires, while the nosferatu are the Pathfinder version, as that really fits the look of vampires people associate with the term. The Obiri are the 2e/ArtHaus nosferatu, the Bram Stoker style Dracula or vampire without energy drain.
It seemed easiest to go simple with this one. Dhampyrs don't really have a big signature ability to recreate.

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Jester of the Dark Comedy
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Post Dark Shadows
Dark Shadows
Some people become a hero despite an unnatural infliction, but some people become a hero because of one

Dark Shadows are small background curses chosen at character creation. These include both a bonus and a penalty, and are optional.
Dark Shadows are primarily a roleplaying tool, essentially being an extra Boon and Flaw.

Addict
You have a physical addiction to a substance such as alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, or opiates like laudanum or opium. You might be a regular user, a recovering addict, or casual user that has unknowingly become dependant on the drug.
Benefit
Accustomed to being intoxicated, if you are poisoned you can spend your inspiration to remove the condition.
Additionally, you know unsavory people and possess some underworld contacts. Even if your particular vice is legal, you have crossed paths with unseemly characters and know how to get in touch with them. You can spend your inspiration to gain information from an illicit source or sway the opinions of a disreputable individual

Bitten
You have been savaged by the natural attacks of a supernatural creature such as a werebeast, vampire, or ghoul. Having recovered from any initial assault (and any related infection) the attack has left deeper scars than the ones that mar your flesh, tainting you with unnatural magic.
Benefit
By unleashing your inner beast your senses become heightened, increasing your vision, hearing, and sense of smell. You can spend your inspiration to be considered proficient in the Perception, Investigation, and Survival skills for 1 minute. If the check is related to the subject of your hunger, you add double your proficiency bonus.

Cat’s Eyes
You were born with bright yellow eyes and slightly ovoid pupils, which catch the light and appear to glow in dim illumination. This rare trait is found only in folks hailing from Vaasi
-speaking nations. It is most common among the Valachani, but the eyes are sometimes found in Nova Vaasans. The cause is unknown but there are many superstitions. Some believe a cat took some of your soul as an infant, others believe you have the blood of a werebeast, and still others believe you are the reincarnated spirit of a feline
Benefit
You can spend your inspiration to speak with felines. You can communicate freely with cats for 1 minute, as is using the spell speak with animals. The cat is under no obligation to help or share information with you.

Cold One
An undead creature drained you of your life energy, almost killing you and turning you into an unliving monstrosity. Your assailant might have been a spectral undead, like a wraith or ghost, or a corporeal, like a wight or vampire. Since the attack, you have regained your strength and vigor, but not your humanity and vitality: some ineffable part of your soul is absent.
Benefit
If frightened, you can spend your inspiration to remove the condition.
Additionally, animated undead such as zombies and skeletons pay you little attention. You can spend your inspiration to make a Dexterity (Stealth) check as if you were heavily obscured. This effect last 1 minute or until you take any action.

Cursed
A malicious hag, dark cleric, or vindictive Vistani has cursed you. You might have been cursed by an evil creature for attempting to stop them, or cursed by a good or neutral individual as punishment for misdeeds. The nature of this curse varies dramatically; you might suffer from misfortune, a wasting disease, a weakened sword arm, repulse people of the opposite sex, or any number of lesser or greater afflictions.
Benefit
Having been plagued by misfortune for years, you have learned to to limit the impact chance has on your actions. You can spend your inspiration before making an ability check to roll 3d6 instead of a d20. If you have advantage on the check, you instead roll 5d6 and use the total of the the three highest rolls.

Gravesight
The spirits of people and events are visible to you as vague mist-like outlines. You can see both ghosts and the imprint strong emotions and dramatic events left on a location. You are able to find places of ethereal resonance and witnessing events from decades past. This power is limited to sight and you have no special ability to hear or interact with ghosts.
Benefit
You can spend your inspiration to witness the ethereal resonance a recent event. The event must have had some emotional significance and have occurs in your current location. Watching the ghostly reenactment might offer some clue as to what happened or provide new information regarding the past. This might call for the normal Horror check for witnessing a disturbing event.
Alternatively, you can spend your inspiration to partially see an invisible undead creature. Make a Wisdom (Perception) check to locate the creature as if it were only lightly obscured.

Haunted
The ghost of a loved one or family member follows you around, seldom leaving your side. You cannot see other spirits and no one else can see your ghost, but you can interact with the ghost as if it were a regular person.
Benefit
You can consult with your spirit, learning otherwise unknowable knowledge. Pick one skill: History, Investigation, Perception, or Survival. Once you pick a skill you cannot change it until after you take a long rest. You can spend your inspiration to gain proficiency in that skill for 1 minute. If already proficient, you instead double your proficiency bonus.

Hollow
You are lacking a soul. You might have been born without a true soul or lost most of your soul as the result of a near death experience. As you lack a soul you cannot be ressurected by magic, and will not experience an afterlife.
Benefit
You can spend your inspiration to make a new saving throw against being charmed or stunned. You can do this when it is not your turn by using your reaction. If the effect is related to emotions, you are considered proficient with that saving throw and add double your proficiency bonus.

Lunatic
Your emotions are tied to the cycle of the moon,. You grow increasingly excited and energetic during gibbous moons but become lethargic and depressive during waning moons.
Benefit
During periods of where the moon is half full you can spend your inspiration to add your proficiency bonus to your initiative. Alternatively, you can spend your inspiration to act in a surprise round.

Possessed
You are the victim of fiendish or undead possession. The will of another entity imposes itself on you, pushing you to take actions that are not of your choosing. The other will cannot yet take full control of your body, and you retain your free will and independence but it is a constant struggle. The entity cannot simply take control during a moment of weakness, such as when you are sleeping or injured, but you must surrender some control or give into its wishes.
Benefit
You can confer with your possessing spirit, learning some forbidden knowledge. Pick one skill: Arcana, History, Nature, or Religion. Once you pick a skill you cannot change your choice until after you take a long rest. You can spend your inspiration to gain proficiency in that skill for 1 minute. If already proficient, you instead double your proficiency bonus.

Redheaded
Having been touched by the fey, witchcraft, or other magical forces you possess a minor magical talent. While not all redheads are touched by otherworldly forces - the majority simply have red hair - all those similarly "blessed" possess vibrant crimson hair. The superstitious believe you are the harbinger of ill fortune, or made a pact with infernal forces.
Benefit
You can spend your inspiration to gain the thaumaturgy cantrip for 1 minute. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for this cantrip.

Redeemed
After a lengthy inner struggle your have escaped corruption. Your past misdeeds were so foul as to leave a physical or spiritual stain, which you have finally managed to erase.
Benefit
Having earned redemption once you are strong willed and refuse to give up or surrender. You can spend your inspiration to add your proficiency bonus to Wisdom saving throws or death saving throws for 1 minute or until you fail a Wisdom or death saving throw.

Reincarnated
Caught in a choice of death and rebirth, this is not your first life and you have returned from the grave into a new body. You only dimly recall the events of your past life in a dream-like haze but occasionally you experience intense memories, feelings, and urges.
Benefit
Tapping into the knowledge of a past life, you can spend your inspiration to be considered proficient in a skill or tool of your choice for 1 round.
Alternatively, you can spend your inspiration to recall memories from a past life, potentially recalling some details of a person you have never met or place you have never been.

Second Sight
You have the ability to catch glimpses of the future, through visions, prophetic dreams, reading fortunes, or divining signs. You might rely on tools, such as bones or tarokka cards, or patterns found in tea leaves or chicken entrails.
Benefit
You can take advantage of your foreknowledge to succeed at simple tasks. You can spend your inspiration to treat a d20 roll as an 11.
Alternatively, you can use your gift to gain a brief vision of the future. This vision is cryptic and often veiled in metaphor, but useful when otherwise lacking direction.

Thoughts & Discussion Points
Dark Shadows are my answer to the Ravenloft feats from 3e, and some of the kits from 2e's Champions of the Mists. Many of these were things like Cold One or Second Sight, which are little flavourful elements more for story than mechanical definition.

These options are too small to make good feats in 5e. Most were poor feats in 3e, being more akin to Pathfinder's Traits or 4e's Backgrounds.

Inspired by a game I cannot talk about, I had the idea for "dark shadows". Little curses, afflictions, or corruptions that make a character not entirely normal. These might include the aforementioned Cold One (no body heat but invisible to undead), Gravesight (see ghosts), Reincarnated (memory of past lives), and Hollow (lacking a soul).
As these include both a bonus and a penalty they're optional; characters that take one *should* be equal to ones who don't.

Dark Shadows add a little extra gothic drama to characters and add a little unique twist to Ravenloft characters. But they shouldn't be a huge mechanical part of the character.

Most options exist as Dark Shadows because I thought they would make poor Backgrounds. Backgrounds are a method of gaining skills, and any option that would not easily provide skill training thus makes for a poor Background. You can imagine an "addict" background, but what skills does an addict know that aren't covered by criminal or urchin?
Similarly, Dark Shadows are something that can be added/removed during play. You might be bitten by a vampire and then cured, or become haunted by a fallen ally. Gaining a new background halfway through play seemed off, as was losing your background.

-edit-
Added the second draft of some dark shadows, with some additions.

Most are just a way to get a few extra skills or a little story manipulation. I wanted it to be small but still worth taking. Because the DM is in charge of awarding inspiration, it's self-balancing to some extent. If a player abuses their Dark Shadow, the DM can just choose to limit awarding inspiration.

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Post Backgrounds
Backgrounds
Reserved for thinking of ideas and bonuses for backgrounds

Acolyte
Variant: Guardian
Living in isolated or hidden monasteries, the Order of Guardians is an organization in name only. Each monastery is independant, only loosely affiliated with the others, often being unaware of the location of other monasteries. They present themselves as an ascetics order, following the routines and rituals common to monasteries, but each has a secret purpose: guarding a single powerful magical relic. These relics cannot be destroyed and are considered too dangerous to be loosed in the world.
Not being tied to a single deity, it is easier for you to find shelter or simple aid in chapels or temples. However, priests are less likely to offer you free healing. You may also have vague information on the location of other monasteries, which are typically in out-of-the-way rural locations.

Changeling
You are a child planted in a foster home by foul hags or otherworldly shadow fey. You parents true child was stolen away in the night, for purposes unknown, and you were left behind in its stead. Most changeling babes are fated to waste away and die, but you manage to survive. You might remember that you are not entirely human, having vague memories of your origins. But even if unaware of your true nature, on some level you know that your foster parents are not your real family.
Skill Proficiencies: Deception, Persuasion
Tool Proficiencies: One type of artisan's tools
Languages: Sylvan
Equipment: A set of artisan's tools (one of your choice), an item , a set of common clothes, and a belt pouch containing 15 gp
Feature: Familial Facade
You are naturally adept at adopting local mannerisms and making people comfortable. You can often find a place to rest for a few days by presenting yourself as a distant relation. This family is unlikely to put themselves in danger helping you, but might offer minor assistance or supplies.
Suggested Characteristics
Changeling are essentially abandoned at birth, left behind to die with a family of strangers. Their initial memories are of rejection, and the entire reason for their existence was to veil a theft before dying. Changeling are often driven to find a place in the world, seeking a family or a new purpose for their existence.
d8 Personality Trait
1 I have varied interests and I'm seldom interested in one thing for too long.
2 I do not suffer slights nor do I forgive betrayals.
3 I'm always eager to meet new people and make new friends.
4 Taking risks makes me feel alive.
5 I'm emotionally reserved and reluctant to let people in close.
6 I have a short temper and I'm prone to fits of rage.
7 I'm enjoy the company of attractive people and am a shameless flirt.
8 I'm passionate, experiencing intense emotions that can shift quickly.

d6 Ideal
1 Friendship. One cannot survive without companionship. (Good)
2 Creativity. New endeavours and ideas are worth pursuing. (Chaotic)
3 Aspiration. Pushing myself to the limits is the only way I will grow. (Any)
4 Independance. No one controls my fate but me. (Chaotic)
5 Greed. I will have all that has been denied me. (Evil)
6 Nature. The wild need to be protected and feared. (Any)

d6 Bond
1 The people of my home village always made me feel accepted.
2 I refuse to be treated like a freak or an outcast.
3 I owe everything to my mentor, who took me in while others cast me out.
4 My lover is my inspiration, my muse, and my happiness.
5 I want to know who I really am and where I come from.
6 I will have vengeance on one who has wronged me.

d6 Flaw
1 I'm fairly irresponsible and change my mind on a whim.
2 I believe I know everything, and what I do know is never wrong.
3 Filth and disease unnerve me, and I hate becoming dirty.
4 I am reserved and emotionally detached with little empathy for others.
5 I have little sympathy for those too weak to defend themselves.
6 I collect valuable baubles and take things that catch my eye.

Criminal
Variant: Poisoner
In most lands the prefered method of assassination is a knife or crossbow bolt. In Borca, the weapon of choice is a fine powder or subtle liquid. While your art is illegal, poisoners are frequently employed by nobles and criminals alike. Poisoners are typically skilled at either crafting poisons for sale or employing assorted toxins, but a few are adept at both.
Rather than proficiency with thieves' tools, you are proficient with poisoner's kits.

Entertainer
Variant: Stage Magician
Mixing mundane illusions and showmanship, Dementlieuse stage magicians give the impression of magic with sleight of hand a some alchemical tricks. Most stage magicians have no ability to cast spells, a few are actual wizards hiding their arcane talents in plain sight, supplementing their common tricks and deceptions with true magic.
Rather than proficiency in Acrobatics, you are proficient with Sleight of Hand.

Folk Hero
Variant: Common Folk
The path of an adventurer is not always chosen: your defining event was not one of heroism but of tragedy and loss. You might be a rancher, farmer, shepherd, or fisherman that has been pushed towards the heroic lifestyle. You likely eschew the title of "hero", simply doing what needs to be done. You are still often welcome in the homes of other commoners, not out if appreciation but out of simple kindness.
d6 Defining Event
1 A loved one was killed or injured by a monster.
2 I left home to prevent my family being punished for something I did.
3 A dangerous magical item was entrusted to me.
4 I killed a monster that became a person upon death, so now I am thought a murderer.
5 I am being stalked by an unknown creature.
6 I was injured or scarred by a creature.
7 I was accused of a crime I did not commit.
8 A fortune teller foretold my loved ones would suffer if I stayed at home.

Inquisitor
You belong to an organization or church that hunts down heretics, witches, or black magic. You are part of the vanguard, the holy warriors that not only defend the common folk but hunt down the unrighteous and sinful. Noteworthy inquisitions include the witch-hunt in Tepest; the Church of the Lawgiver in Nova Vaasa, who pursue of heretics and blasphemers; the followers of Elena Faith-Hold in Nidala, which crusade against sinner and monsters; and Darkonian sect of the Church of Ezra, who defend against the Legions of the Night.
Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Intimidation
Tool Proficiencies: Herbalism kit
Languages: One of your choice.
Equipment: A holy symbol, an herbalism kit, manacles, vestments, a set of common clothes, and a belt pouch containing 10 gp.
Feature: Interrogator
The terrifying reputation of an inquisitor unnerves folk, who might readily volunteer unrequested knowledge in the hope of placating you and avoiding your wrath. When you attempt to gather information (through either forcible extraction or diplomatic enticement) but you fail to learn what you want, your subject might offer related lore or reveal minor secrets.
Suggested Characteristics
Inquisitors have a strong sense of right and wrong, firmly believing in the existence of true evil. They know the dangers of the supernatural and have seen the corruption of sin. Even ex-inquisitors, ones who no longer a servant of the Church, continue to believe in the righteousness of their actions, simply shifting their absolute convictions.
d8 Personality Trait
1 I believe that monsters are everywhere and anyone could be a creature of the night.
2 I like to make rhetorical speeches and sermons.
3 I am weary of always finding corruption and seeing the worst of humanity.
4 It's my belief that everyone has secrets, everyone is hiding something.
5 I'm always reciting parables relating to the current situation.
6 I'm extremely pessimistic, always expecting the worst.
7 I try my hardest at everything I attempt, never giving less that my best effort.
8 I feel strong remorse over what I must do, especially my failures.

d6 Ideal
1 Protection. I defend those who cannot defend themselves. (Good)
2 Faith. My god gives me all the strength I require. (Any)
3 Honesty. I refuse to sully my lips with a falsehood. (Lawful)
4 Power. So long as I have power, it won't corrupt anyone else. (Evil)
5 Responsibility. I must fulfil my duties and keep oaths I have sworn. (Good)
6 Greater Good. If I must damn myself to give others salvation, so be it. (Any)

d6 Bond
1 I would venture into the Abyss for my parishioners or congregation.
2 I have dedicated myself to unveiling evil of all kinds.
3 Everything I am is what the Church made me.
4 I will hunt down and destroy the foul beast that escaped me.
5 I owe my sponsor in the Church a debt I can never fully repay.
6 My family means more to me than my own life.

d6 Flaw
1 I see the world in absolutes: there is only good and evil.
2 I can be heartless and when dealing with those I see as sinners.
3 I gain more pleasure than I like to admit at punishing the wicked.
4 I expect perfection from everyone.
5 I'm stubborn, refusing to compromise in matters of importance.
6 I put too much faith in the Church and my superiors.

Sage
Variant: Physician
Your studies were focused on biology and the human body rather than chemistry or the physical sciences. Human anatomy was a major topic of your education, and you were treatments for many common ailments and injuries. Herbal remedies may have also been included in your education.
Rather than knowing one additional language, you are proficient with either the herbalist or healing kit (or both in place of two additional languages). You can replace the quill and bottle of ink in your starting equipment with either a healing or herbalist kit.

Sole Survivor
You lived through a great tragedy, an event so traumatic that it now defines your entire life. Everything you once loved or valued is now gone forever. Who you were before the tragedy no longer matters, and returning to your old life seems impossible: that life is a distant memory, more akin to a dream than reality. The trauma you survived likely involved serious personal injury or the loss of a loved one (or both), but it could have also involved the loss of your livelihood, home, or reputation.
Skill Proficiencies: Perception, Survival
Tool Proficiencies: One type of artisan's tools (your choice)
Languages: One of your choice
Equipment: A set of artisan's tools (one of your choice), a memento from your past life (lock of hair, locket with a picture, or worn toy) a set of traveler’s clothes, and a belt pouch containing 15 gp
Feature: Safe House
Having barely escaped disaster once, you are overly prepared to avoid future calamity. You have one or more hidden caches where you stored a change of clothes, basic supplies, a few coins, and some food. This cache might be hidden in a crawl space with barely able to fit a single person, a shack hidden in the woods, or a small second home in the city.
Suggested Characteristics
Survivors have experienced a great deal of emotional trauma, which makes it difficult for them to form emotional attachments. They can be suspicious, possibly to the point of paranoia. Some survivors have difficulty thinking about the future, dwelling on the past and their regrets. Other survivors plan for any contingency, hoping to avoid future tragedies.
d8 Personality Trait
1 Despite my emotional problems, I maintain a facade of normality.
2 I am extremely pessimistic, always expecting the worse.
3 I try to be ready for anything to happen. Anything.
4 Humour is my prefered defense, and I take very little seriously.
5 I can be overly cautious, even in mundane situations.
6 I appear unemotional, being overly logical and withdrawn.
7 I have a plan for any situation, and a back-up plan for when that fails.
8 My happiness is fleeting, as I'm filled with a deep sorrow.

d6 Ideal
1 Aspiration. I must be better, I must try harder. (Any)
2 Power. Those in positions of power can prevent tragedies. (Evil)
3 Vengeance. I will have retribution for my pain. (Evil)
4 Protection. Someone has to defend the weak. (Good)
5 No More. I will not stand by and let others suffer. (Chaotic)
6 Community. Neighbours should look out for neighbours. (Lawful)

d6 Bond
1 My friends and companions keep me sane.
2 I'm determined to help others whenever possible.
3 Helping others keeps me grounded: as long as I'm active, I can't dwell on the past.
4 Someone helped me after my loss. I owe them a great debt.
5 The people of my home town are the closest thing to family I have left.
6 Revenge drives me forward.

d6 Flaw
1 I have strong feelings of guilt for surviving.
2 It is difficult for me to trust others.
3 I view strangers as expendable.
4 Nightmares prevent me from having a full night's sleep.
5 I'm self-destructive, taking unnecessary risks.
6 My mood changes wildly and without warning.

Town Guard
As a member of a constabulary or city watch, you were trained to uphold the law and protect the citizens of your settlement from mundane threats. Your job was one of deterring crime: being visible and vigilant. When needed, you pursued fleeing criminal or intervened in disturbances, but investigation of crimes was outside your duties.
You might have been a common guard, or a member of a specific law-enforcement order. Examples include the Lamplighters, the small but efficient constabulary of Mordentshire; the Gendarmerie, given authority to enforce the law across Dementliue; the Bellmen of Paridon, headquartered on Bell Street and focused on hunting murderers; or a low-ranking member of the Kargat, the secret police of Darkon.
Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Perception
Tool Proficiencies: Vehicles (land)
Languages: One of your choice.
Equipment: Badge of office, an oilcloth cloak, a truncheon (club), evidence from an unsolved crime, a set of common clothes, and a belt pouch containing 10 gp
Feature: Officer of the Law
You are still recognised as a member of the town watch by fellow guards of your order. Those of a lower rank will typically defer to your authority or recognise your experience. The town watch of other settlements may identify you as a fellow guard and offer aid as a courtesy. Other guards will help you will any lawful endeavors, offering minor assistance such as discussing current investigations or information on local affairs.
Suggested Characteristics
Those who opt to join a town watch often have strong feelings towards law and order and are driven to help people. They put their life at risk and make themselves a target for retribution for very little recompense. A few become guards because they like the feeling of authority and are something of a bully, but the dangers of the job mean these individuals are rare.
d8 Personality Trait
1 I do everything according to the strict letter of the rulebook.
2 I take copious notes, recording everything I witness to avoid forgetting details.
3 I would rather spend a week in the stocks than walk away from a fight.
4 The danger of my job makes me feel more alive than anything else.
5 I work hard during the day, and just at hard on my time off.
6 I always have a ready drink or a preserved snack.
7 It is difficult for me not to snoop into other people's business.
8 I always make the first move. I can ask questions after.

d6 Ideal
1 Honesty. I cannot do my job if I'm not trustworthy. (Good)
2 Tradition. Laws are a constant across the generations. (Lawful)
3 Rules. A code of law is what separates us from animals. (Lawful)
4 Power. Someone has to make the rules and keep the streets safe. (Evil)
5 Action. If your heart isn't beating, you're not alive. (Any)
6 Punishment. The wicked need to be brought to justice. (Any)

d6 Bond
1 One of my parents was a guard. This isn't a job, it's my inheritance.
2 I will not rest until I catch the criminal who escaped me.
3 My sense of integrity means as much to me as my life.
4 I will clear my town of criminals and corruption.
5 I have to prove I'm innocent of the crime
6 My fallen partner will be avenged.

d6 Flaw
1 I believe everyone is guilty of something.
2 I don't take bribes, I just get paid extra to do my job.
3 Breaking out of a cell is easier than changing my mind.
4 When someone is accused of a crime, I always believe they did it.
5 It is not my place to decide which laws to follow. I enforce them all equally.
6 I sent an innocent person to jail and have done nothing to free them.

Variant: Detective
Most guard do little to hunt down criminals, leaving this task to trained investigators. Detectives do not keep the peace or deter illegal acts, but look at the evidence left after crime to discover the perpetrator. Detectives are rare: few constabularies make use of their services and fewer still have a detective as a member of the watch. Many detectives sell their services, freelancing for the town guard or whomever can pay for their services.
Rather than proficiencies with Insight and Perception, you are likely proficient in Search and Persuasion. And in place of your proficiency with Vehicles, you might be proficient with thieves' tools or a disguise kit.

Thoughts & Discussion Points
There are likely two good sources for backgrounds: established lore and gothic tropes.
Some obvious backgrounds might be covered in the base rules. A Borcan aristocrat isn't that different from a general noble.
The trick is deciding when certain professions are large enough to be their own background, such as Lamordian chemist or chirurgeon.

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Jester of the Dark Comedy
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Post Re: Ravenloft for 5e - Planning
Other Mechanics
Reserved for thinking of ideas for other mechanics

Dark Powers Checks
Those who commit evil deeds are blessed and cursed by the Dark Powers: the enigmatic forces that hold sway over the Land of the Mists. When someone commits an evil or questionable act there is a random chance the Dark Powers are watching and will respond.
Making Checks
Whenever a character knowingly performs an evil deed you can ask the character to make a Dark Powers check. On a failed check, they have attracted the attention of the Dark Powers and gain 1 level of corruption. On a successful check, the character has escaped the notice of the Dark Powers (or the Dark Powers have just ignored the action for some ineffable reason). No ability or feature can modify this roll or allow the d20 to be rerolled.
A typically Dark Powers is DC 3, but you can set the DC of the Dark Powers check based on the action, considering factors such as the motive of the character, the alignment of the victim, and the number of victims. If the victim of the crime was evil the DM can reduce the DC by 1 and if they were inhuman the DC can be reduced by 2. If the victim was good or a true innocent the DC can be increased by 1 or 2. Committing numerous small crime or evil acts that individually did not warranted a Dark Powers check might increase the DC when the character finally crosses the line. Similarly, if a character committs a series of related evil actions they only roll a single check at a higher DC.
The Dark Powers are more likely to respond to deliberately evil actions, being less interested in unthinking or casual evil. If the creature acted rashly or had good intentions the DM can rule they have a advantage on the check, while if they acted for purely selfish reasons or the crime was premeditated they might gave disadvantage. A creature acting against their nature might also impose disadvantage on the check.
You are the arbiter of what is and is not worthy of a check. Only truly evil acts call for a check: immoral, cowardly, or spiteful acts might not necessarily be evil and unworthy of a check. The frequency of Dark Powers checks is dependant on the tone of the campaign. A story emphasising the continual struggle against evil or the inevitable fall into darkness benefits from more frequent power checks, but a heroic campaign of brave monster hunters might overlook morally grey actions done in the greater good.

Design Note: When to Roll
When to make a Dark Powers check is a matter of personal taste. "Does this warrant a Powers check?" is a frequent message boards question. In the end, the best answer is "what do you think?"
Dark Powers checks are meant to create drama and introduce moral consequences to the game. They are not meant to be used as a threat to keep troublesome players in line. Instead they should set the mood and reinforce the themes of the campaign.
The morality of adventurers is a topic beyond a single sidebar, with many contrasting opinions. Some people believe that killing orc children is good, as orcs are "chaotic evil", but others view that as an evil action. Similarly, looting the dead is hard to adjudicate as so much of the game is predicated on killing monsters and taking their stuff. It is very possible for the DM and a player to have opposing views on what is evil and what is good, and Dark Powers checks should not be used as a way for the Dungeon Master to impose their morality on the players.
Hard rules for Dark Powers checks are tricky as not every game is the same and not every DM wants the same focus on corruption. There can also be moments of silliness as something that is not evil triggers a Powers check. For example, a rule that casting a necromancy spells call for a check means a character might gain corruption for casting gentle repose or spare the dying.
Firm rules also leaves the system open for abuse. Thematically, the benefits of a single failed Powers check outweigh the costs because they are a temptation, but this also makes it a temptation for players: players seeking more abilities for their character are incentivized to sin a little, to get the first stage or two of corruption.

Corruption
When a creature fails a Dark Powers check they become corrupted, gaining 1 level of corruption. Corruption can manifest in multiple different ways depending on the crimes of the creature. The type of crime determines the eventual benefits and curses that accompany the Dark Powers’ attention.
Crimes
Evil acts can be loosely divided into one of four categories.
Betrayal. These are typically crimes against a person or organization. Betrayal results in social corruption. These include revealing deep secrets, perjury, character assassination, gaslighting, or selling-out an ally.
Blasphemy. These are crimes against a faith or a god. Committing blasphemy leads to spiritual corruption. Examples include violating a tenet, breaking an oath, grave robbing, defacing a holy item, and defiling a holy site.
Dark Magic. These are violations of the natural order. Practicing dark magic leads to mental corruption. Examples are laying a curse, raising the dead, allying with evil creatures, using dark rituals, creating the undead, or the use of an evil artifact.
Violence. These are crimes against a person. Acts of violence lead to physical corruption. Examples include bullying, extortion, assault, torture, and murder.
Mental Corruption
Tainting of the mind is the result of dark magic. This is incurable mental deviation is beyond mere madness.
The corrupted creature can gain an understanding of forbidden knowledge as the Dark Powers open the brain’s many locked doors. There is the possibility of a devious intelligence, unrestrained by morality and decency. Or the madness, could be all-consuming: the corrupted creature's mind is free but random, moving chaotically between ideas and possibilities without the grounding force of reality.
Physical Corruption
Physical corruption alters the body. This type of corruption is obvious and apparent: there is little subtle about physical corruption.
Physical corruption can increases physical strength at the cost of agility or mental ability, changing the corrupted creature into a dim-witted brute. Alternatively, physical corruption can make a creature quick and agile, but frail. Agile corrupted creatures tend to be more impulsive, lacking caution and common sense.
Social Corruption
Social corruption affects the personality and interpersonal abilities of the corrupted creature. While not obviously physically deformed, there might be some inhuman features and telltale traits that reveal their depravity.
The socially corrupt often excel at lies and deception, being prenaturally charming or always knowing the right thing to say. The corrupted might have unnatural abilities and powers that affect or influence others. Or the corrupted creature might be socially awkward and repulsive, repugnant to be around as their mannerisms betray their inhumanity.
Spiritual Corruption
Repeated blasphemy results in the befouling of the soul. This is more than mere damnation -which all failed Powers checks lead to- but a total and almost infectious blackening of the spirit.
A creature with a corrupted spirit quickly forgets the difference between right and wrong. This immorality is paired with preternatural sight and wisdom. In contrast, a spiritually dead creature is dull and poorly motivated, yet relentless when pursuing their single-minded goal.
Stages of Darkness
As a creature gains levels of corruption they advance through the stages of darkness. The curses and dark gifts bestowed upon the creature depend on their stage.















Corruption Level Stage
- Innocent
0 Pure or Redeemed
1 The Caress
2 The Enticement
3 The Invitation
4 The Embrace
5 The Descent

Innocent. This is a rare stage. Not only has the creature never failed a Dark Powers check, but they have never done anything to warrant one. Often the creature has never been exposed to horror. Most adults lost their innocent not far into their adolescence.
Pure. The creature has never failed a Dark Powers check. However, they may have done something worthy of a Dark Powers check.
Redeemed. The character has failed a Dark Powers check but managed to reduce their level of corruption to 0, cleansing their soul. However, the creature will never be Pure again.
The Caress. The creature's soul is stained but they have not truly fallen to darkness, nor have they been overly cursed.
The Enticement. The Dark Powers have given the creature a significant reward for their actions along with an increased penalty.
The Invitation. The creature's gift increases as the Dark Powers offer a great boon, but the cost is much higher and apparent. A little piece of their humanity is lost.
The Embrace. Well on their way to true darkness, the creature is now much more than human, capable of inhuman feats. Sometimes this supernatural nature is apparent, but other times it is veiled. Regardless, a normal life is impossible for the creature's appetites or abilities are too monstrous.
The Descent. The creature is lost to darkness, as their soul is irrevocably tainted and they have become a member of the legion of the night. The creature's alignment becomes evil and the DM might take control of the character.
Redemption
Corruption is difficult to remove but not impossible, and damnation is not a certainty. Although, recovering from corruption takes time and effort, and the Dark Powers may subtly guide the creature back to darkness.
To cleanse the soul, a creature must encounter a situation similar to the one where they chose to commit the evil act, only this time they must willingly choose a different course of actions. If this is done a number of times equal to 1 + the creature's current level of corruption, their corruption level decreases by 1 level. Sometimes the Dark Powers do not lightly release a pawn, and the creature must reroll the Dark Powers check to reduce their corruption level.
Act of Ultimate Darkness
Some deeds are so monstrous that they cannot fail to attract the attention of the Dark Powers. These are deeds so unforgivable that they forever stain the soul. These are Acts of Ultimate Darkness.
Acts of Ultimate Darkness are unquestionably evil, often involving an innocent or a family member. The action should also be so heinous that is is difficult if not outright impossible to make reparations, making redemption unlikely. The crime is not easily described by one of the four types, fitting into two or more categories. Failing a Dark Powers check by 10 or more is also considered an Act of Ultimate Darkness.
If a character ever commits an Act of Ultimate Darkness they are forever touched by the Dark Powers. They can never lower their level of corruption points 2. If a character ever commits an Acts of Ultimate Darkness their alignment becomes evil and the DM should take control of the character.

Darklords
To become a darklord, a creature must gain a 5th levels of corruption through an Act of Ultimate Darkness. There are no darklords of minor crimes or who have committed a multitude of small sins. Although each darklord is a are unique creature, most gain some standard powers.
Immunities. The darklord is resistant to magical effects with a permanent duration, such as curses or spells. Once every year they can reroll the saving throw, ending the effect on a success.
Legendary Creature. The darklord is becomes a legendary creature and gains 3 legendary actions. If already a legendary creature, the darklord gains 2 additional legendary actions to a maximum of 5.
Lord of the Land. The domain reshapes itself to match the temperament and personality of its lord. The darklord cannot leave their domain and is trapped within its borders. The entire domain is considered the darklord's lair (although some darklords have a seat of power with addition powers).
Persistence. Time has little impact on darklords. Most darklords cease to age entirely, while others appear to age at half the normal speed but suffering none of the penalties associated with old age.
Lair Actions
On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), the darklord rolls a d20. On a result of 11 or higher, the darklord takes a lair action to cause one of the following effects. It can't use the same effect two rounds in a row.
Close the Borders. Magical barriers encircle the borders of the domain, keeping all creatures from departing the land. No mortal magic can pierce a closed domain border. The exact form of the barrier depends on the personality of the darklord.
Sense Disruption. The darklords senses any disruption to their land, such as those created by a paladin or the reality wrinkle of a fiend or celestial.

Dread Pool
From this thread.
The idea is simple. In unnatural or horrifying places (horrible sewer, haunted castle, vampire's lair) you add a Dread Die to the table. Every time someone attempts an action or every so many turns, someone roll a die. If it comes up a "1" something horrible happens. After a set number of time another die is added to the pool. So there's a growing visual reminder that something bad could happen at any time.
(Dice can be replaced by a bag of clear glass beads with a number of black beads).
This is inspired by both the RPG Dread and the Doom Pool from the MWP Marvel RPG.

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Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:51 pm
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Post Re: Ravenloft for 5e - Planning
Comments

A thread was started to discuss my design, and can be found here.

Feel free to join the discussion.

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Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:37 am
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Post Re: Ravenloft for 5e - Planning
Classes

Cleric
Anchorite
Followers of Ezra, anchorites are not just followers of the goddess but members of the clergy who are taught to tap into their goddess' spiritual bond with the Mists. Anchorites are respected for their divine command of the Mists, but even other followers of Ezra find them slightly unnerving. No one knows the full price paid for assuming the role of a goddess or presuming to influence the Mists.
Anchorites can take the Channel Divinity power Shield of Ezra in place of the the Divine Domain feature normally gained at 6th level.
Channel Divinity: Shield of Ezra
When you or a creature within 30 feet of you takes bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage you can use your reaction to give the creature resistance to that damage.


Rogue
Investigator
Your strongest weapon is not a bow or dagger but your keen mind and quick wits. You are adept at piecing together evidence and observing details others might miss, and can quickly communicate these details to your allies. Detectives, archaeologists, and some monster hunters often belong to this archetype. Some investigators remain criminals, becoming masterminds who rely on underlings for theft and murder.
Identify Weakness
Starting at 3rd level, when you take the Help action to aid a creature's attack and that attack hits, the creature deals extra damage equal to your Sneak Attack damage.
Keen Observations
Starting at 3rd level, you can use the bonus action granted by your Cunning Action to use take the Search action.
In additional, if not already proficient in Survival you can add your proficiency bonus to Wisdom (Survival) checks to follow tracks.
Active Research
Starting at 9th level, you have advantage on all Intelligence (Investigation) checks made while researching using downtime days.
You also learn how to move unseen through crowds, and how to best make yourself forgettable. You gain proficiency with the disguise kit. If you attempt to disguise yourself as a nondescript individual you have advantage on all checks with the disguise kit. While disguised, if you spend at least 1 hour eavesdropping, asking questions, and staking out a location you can make an Intelligence check as if you were proficient in Arcana, History, Nature, or Religion. If you spend at least 8 hours you double your proficiency bonus on the check. While disguised, you can study people to learn their capabilities. For each minute you spend watching the creature while unobserved, you learn if it is your equal, superior, or inferior in one the following characteristics:
  • An ability score
  • A skill
  • Total class levels (if any)
  • Rogue class levels (if any)
Web of Informants
By 9th level, you have acquired a number of agents and contacts you can approach for information. While in a settlement where you have a contact you are always aware of current events, passively gathering information. Your contacts will dispatch messages to inform you of noteworthy developments and occasionally approach you with new information.
Distant Assistance
At 13th level, you can direct attacks while keeping yourself a safe distance away. You can use the Help action to aid a friendly creature in attacking a creature within 15 feet of you.
Sudden Advantage
When you reach 17th level, when an ally within 15 feet rolls makes a critical hit you can use the Help action as a reaction.


Warlock
The Mists
Your patron is more of a force than a being. There is no overt agreement: no parley
between the warlock and the Mists or its representative. You might be stealing your power by binding yourself with the land, using the world itself as a power source. Or you might have been touched by the Mists, tainted after a time trapped inside, or corrupted by actions performed while in the Mists.
Expanded Spell List
The Mists grants you varient magical knowledge, allowing you to choose from an expanded list of spells. The following spells are added to the warlock spell list for you.

Mists Expanded Spells
Spell Level Spells

1st fog cloud, longstrider
2nd blur, detect thoughts
3rd haste, stinking cloud
4th confusion, phantasmal killer
5th cloudkill, modify memory
Relative Time
When you choose your patron at 1st level, time begins to move differently for you. When you roll initiative, you can choose to add or subtract your proficiency bonus from the result, decided when you roll initiative.
You can also shift move through time. At the end of a creature's turn, you can use your reaction to change your initiative so you act next in the initiative order. Once you use this ability, you lose all benefits of this feature until you complete a short or long rest.
Mist Call
At 6th level, as an action, you can conjure a thin pool of mist. The mist forms around you and has a radius in feet of five times your proficiency bonus, and remains for 1 minute or until you dismiss the effect. The pool of mist lies close to the ground obscuring the terrain but not any creatures standing within. The mist moves with you but you can make it stationary on your turn. You can summon stationary mist to you as an action.
While inside the mist, as a bonus action, you can teleport to any other place in the mist. Doing so makes the mist stationary.
Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you complete a short or long rest.
Grasping Mists
Starting at 10th level, you can summon writhing tendrils of mist to wrap around your enemies. As an action, you can cause each creature in a 15-foot radius circle originating from you to make a Dexterity saving throw against your warlock spell save DC. Creatures that fail their save are caught in the wispy yet solid tendrils and are restrained for 1 minute or until you end the effect as an action. A creature restrained by the misty tendrils can use its action to make a Strength or Dexterity check (its choice) against your spell save DC. On a success it frees itself.
Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you complete a short or long rest.
Mist-Led
By 14th level, you can trap a creature in the Mists, pulling them into a space between spaces. As an action you cause the Mists to rise up to snatch a creature within 60 feet that you can see. The creature remains lost in the mist for 10 minutes. As an action, the creature can try to will its return with a Charisma saving throw against your spell save DC. On a success the creature returns to the space it previously occupied, or the nearest unoccupied space. At the DM's discretion, the target of this attack might need to make a saving throw against madness.
Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

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Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:40 pm
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Post Re: Ravenloft for 5e - Planning
07/15/2014

Added some rough race notes to the document.

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Tue Jul 15, 2014 3:16 pm
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Post Re: Ravenloft for 5e - Planning
07/17/2014

Added the mechanics for the gargoyle race. Haven't touched flavour yet.
Uncertain if I want them to be a species (like Disney's Gargoyles cartoon) that is the inspiration for stone gargoyles, or constructs given life or that gained life after guarding their post for years.

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Thu Jul 17, 2014 3:31 pm
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Post Re: Ravenloft for 5e - Planning
07/31/2014

Added the first draft of dark shadows.

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Thu Jul 31, 2014 3:22 pm
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Post Re: Ravenloft 5e - Jester's Planning
09/01/2014

Added more dark shadows and revised some of the existing options.

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Mon Sep 01, 2014 1:19 pm
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Post Re: Ravenloft 5e - Jester's Planning
10/01/2014

Added backgrounds

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Wed Oct 01, 2014 10:09 pm
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Post Re: Ravenloft 5e - Jester's Planning
10/16/2014

Added stone-lurker gargoyle and the dhampyr.

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Thu Oct 16, 2014 10:05 am
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Post Re: Ravenloft 5e - Jester's Planning
10/17/14

Wanted to get some madness brainstorming done.
Ended up writing much of the rules...

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Fri Oct 17, 2014 12:34 pm
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