Posts Tagged With: rules

Random Book Generator!

Today I present to you a book generator based on the numbers produced by Mr. Smolensk at the Tao of D&D on his article “Books.”  Now, as this is purely a list of book subjects/categories and not actual titles, you will have to make up titles and authors for any books you generate.  I’m sure you can think up something if you are clever enough to enjoy worldbuilding.  On to the generator and how to use it!

It’s set up on a single Google Sheet page, so you don’t have to go mucking about with any tabs or anything.  Simply refresh the page to generate a new number in the “Roller” box, and look up the number on the accompanying table.  Example: if you roll a 628, you want to find the number in the “Roll (up to)” column that is just over 628, which happens to be 642, Missions and Missionaries in the Religion category.  Then, you will notice that the number next to the Roll (up to) column is colored.  Go back up to the top, and refer to the number in the correspondingly colored box under the Rarity Table heading.  This will be a random number between 1 and 100.  Find the indicated percentage in the same row as the colored box, and the column heading will give you the rarity of the book you generated.  See my post about the Function of a Library for more on the rarity of books (and their uses).  Missions and Missionaries happens to be a blue box, so we look at the Blue box on the Rarity Table, see it is 98, and referring to the numbers in that row, we find that we have a common book about missions or missionaries.

Figuring out how much these books are worth is completely up to you, and should depend on how rare books are in general in your world, and how much value you place on the bonus to Knowledge checks they confer.

Random books can be found in treasure stashes of nobles or wizards, or you could generate the stock of a bookseller in your world.  If you run across a subject that is too advanced for the technology of your world, I suggest making it a book on a similar subject, but from a magical or alchemical perspective.

Enjoy!

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Called Shots

Something of a Holy Grail, per se, of D&D combats in my experience is a workable, simple called shot system.  I have worked up the following and think that it’s really quite simple, with a decent risk-reward balance and appropriate deference given to higher level characters.


A called shot is a full round action that targets a specific part of an opponent’s body. Called shots may be declared against any non-amorphous corporeal opponent.

To perform a called shot, a player first declares his intention to call the shot (called “Calling the Shot”). Then an attack roll is made against the defender’s normal AC. If successful, he then rolls the called shot percentage, which is 5% for every point of Base Attack Bonus of the attacker, minus 5% per point of AC bonus if armor is worn over the called out body part.

If the attacker rolls over the Called Shot Percentage he misses, is overbalanced, and cannot attack next round. If he rolls under the percentage he may roll critical damage. If the damage rolled (after the armor’s damage reduction is applied) is greater than or equal to 25% of the target’s total HP, refer to the following table.

Called Shot TableOther effects may occur based on local conditions.


Obviously, you can make modifications as you see fit, but I will offer some modifications for various flavors.

If you prefer, instead of using Base Attack Bonus to drive the CSPercentage, you can opt to use character level instead (this option might be attractive for you 5e folks).

Or, to make the table more deadly, you may opt to increase (or decrease) the table percentage roll by up to the level of the character making the attack.

So there you have it: called shots in a small, easy-to-swallow pill form.  You’re welcome.

EDIT: Changed armor reduction from material-dependent to straight up AC conversion.

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Truly Non-Vancian Magic

Credit where credit is due: the train of thought that inspired this bucket of madness left the station from this post from Crater Labs. Check that out, then come back here.  It may make more sense where I’m coming from.

First, a definition: Vancian magic is a form of magic based on the existence of spells that must be prepared in advance, for specific purposes, and that can be used a finite number of times.

This is a very handy formula for RPGs which include magic, and that is why D&D (and almost every other RPG on the market) uses it.  But it has limitations.

In order for any system to be (at least in my opinion) truly non-vancian, all of these criteria must be avoided. Otherwise you are still casting the same old spells but using mana points or something instead of casting X spells per day.  And really it isn’t the finite number of times things that I want to get rid of, it’s the advance preparation of specific applications of magic that I want to change.  Because who want to be the guy who can deal 10d6 fire damage to everything in a 40ft sphere, but who can’t get the freakin’ magical stairway to move because there isn’t a spell called “Elminster’s Escalator Energizer?”

So I have invented a framework that will allow this kind of spellcasting, and I present it to you here.  First, the basics, and I will hit you with a few classes later (as I get them finished).


One who has the ability to manipulate matter and energy outside of normal, rational human means (primarily through physical effort) is a Magic-user.  There are many ways that individuals come by this power, and many way that they might channel it.  It is an inborn talent, primarily, not one that can be learned.  In that way magic use is similar to the Force. Unlike the force, there is a wide range of uses that magic may be applied to.

The three most common types of magic user are the Arcanist, the Called One, and the Elementalist.

All of these casters have a “sixth sense” which allows them to manipulate cosmic energies on a small scale.  There is a constant stream of energy flowing through the material plane, and magic users are able, by ritual or by right, to reach out and grab a handful.  Their ability to control and divert the stream depends on their experience and their mental acuity.  Arcanists manipulate the flow of those energies through the material plane to produce effects on the material plane.  The Called contact their divine representative through this channel and together they channel the divine energy aspects to wreak weal or woe on those around them.  Elementalists harness the flow of energy directly and bring it into the material plane.

Arcanists are those who have a high intelligence, and can recognize patterns that others may not notice.  Through study and experimentation (as well as the natural talent required to manipulate super-natural energies), the arcanist can manipulate conditions both physical and metaphysical to harness the thaumaturgic energies of the cosmos.

Hedge-mages are a subset of arcanists that have studied the methods of the arcanists, but lack the insight to create new magical effects on their own.  They have the natural talent required to manipulate energies, but must do so through rigorous training in the harnessing rituals and can only produce limited effects.

The Called are those who have been chosen by a supernatural entity (commonly called a god) to perform some task on the Material Plane.  They receive power through an agent of this supernatural entity.  While pursuing the assigned mission, the power they are allotted is very great, and as a reward for devoted service, they Called are granted a portion of their power for the pursuit of their own personal ends.

The pious are a subordinate class to the Called, who are given knowledge of specific rituals to be performed at specific times for specific purposes.  They often oversee the worshippers of the gods, and assist in the celebration of holy days.  These rituals are often limited in scope, but not always.

The Elemetalists are the third most common form of higher caster.  They draw their power from the cosmos itself, combining the five elements in various ways to perform magical feats.  They possess genetic material which links them to the elements of the universe and allows their manipulation.

Spell Points and Magic Use

There are 8 factors that affect how many spell points a particular manifestation will cost.  These are duration, power, range, focus, casting time, preparation, familiarity, and number of casters.

The caster may choose to expend more SP than they currently have, but at severe personal risk.  There are two options to perform this act.  First, a caster may simply invest up to 1/4 their current HP worth of SP into any given spell.  After the spell is cast, the caster then takes 1d6 damage for each spell point gained in this way.  Second, the caster may inflict damage upon themselves immediately before casting by drawing blood, and for each point of damage inflicted, an extra 2 SP are gained.  Unused points are lost.

Duration:

By default, passive spell effects last for 1 minute, and aggressive spell effects act instantaneously and then dissipate.  Extending a spell for longer than the base duration will cost a number of spell points based on the table below (units are 1 minute for passive spells, 1 round for active spells)

Units: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Points 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55

In addition, active spells will cost the number of spell points devoted to increasing their power each round/minute they are active.

Focus Elements:

Rude Fine white sand, poured out as spell cast Extends spell duration 1 unit
Adequate Quartz crystal on a fine silver chain Doubles SP used to extend spell duration
Superb Perfectly spherical polished moonstone Triple  SP used to extend spell duration
Sublime Polished sunstone Quadruple SP used to extend spell duration

Power:

Spells which cause damage to opponents start at a base of 1d4 damage for HP damage, or 1 point when influencing abilities.  Those which cure damage or augment abilities begin at 1d6 HP or 2 points of ability scores.  Increasing these values costs 1 point per die type or ability point.

The base saving throw for spells is 10 + Ability Modifier + Spell Points/3.  Increasing the save for a particular manifestation costs 1 spell point per point of save.  Decreasing the saving throw reduces the spell points required to cast the spell by one per point of save.  You cannot decrease the saving throw DC to less than 10 in this way and still save point costs.

Focus Elements:

Rude chunk of granite increases damage by 1 die category
Adequate guano and charcoal dust increases damage by 2 die categories
Superb Jade bladed dagger adds 3 to save
Sublime 12 sided polished crystal deals 4 points of ability damage

Range:

The default range of a spell is touch or personal.  Increasing the range costs the points indicated per range increment.

Close is 25 feet plus 5 feet per two caster levels.  (1)

Medium is 100 feet + 10 feet per caster level.  (1)

Long range is 400 feet + 40 feet per caster level.  (2)

Local range is 1600 feet + 160 feet per caster level.  (3)

Regional is 1 mile + 1/10 mile per caster level.  (5)

Baronial range is 4 miles + 1/2 mile per caster level (8)

County range is 16 miles + 1 1/2 miles per caster level (13)

Duchy range is 64 miles + 6 1/2 miles per caster level (21)

Country range is 256 miles + 25 miles per caster level (34)

Empirical range is 1024 miles + 100 miles per caster level (55)

Continental range is 4096 miles + 400 miles per caster level (89)

Focus elements:

Rude 3 flight feathers 1 free range increment
Adequate preserved whole wing 2 free range increments
Superb 2 polished crystal lenses 3 free range increments
Sublime Gold spyglass with diamond lenses 4 free range increments

 Focus:

Casting spells requires concentration.  Utilizing different focusing techniques can make spellcasting less taxing on the caster.  It is assumed that all spells are cast with verbal and somatic components. Focusing energies through these mental foci are a basic technique that may be eschewed.  Forgoing the verbal component will increase the spell point cost by 2, and forgoing the somatic component will also increase the spell point cost by 2.

Channeling spell power from the flow into the material plane can often be facilitated by using a properly aligned material focus.  Using a focus reduces the number of spell points required to enact the spell.  There are two kinds of focus:  Seed foci, and Effect foci.

Seed foci are related to the school of the spell being cast, and come in 4 qualities: Rude, Adequate, Superb, and Sublime.  Each school has it’s own focus material, and each level of quality is increasingly rare.

Quality Reduction Max SP Break Chance
Rude 20% 10 90%
Adequate 40% 20 75%
Superb 60% 30 60%
Sublime 80% 40 45%

Reduction:  Percentage of spell points that using the focus reduces the spell cost by.

Max SP:  The maximum spell points of magic that the focus can be used to channel at one time (after the focus reduction).  Channeling more than this number of spell points (after the reduction) will risk breaking the focus.

Break Chance: If the Max SP is exceeded, this is the chance that the focus will be ruined by channeling the spell.  Sorry

Effect foci relate to each of the spell effects, and also come in 4 qualities: Rude, Adequate, Superb, and Sublime.  Each effect has a different focus requirement, and allows a “free” extension of the particular aspect of the focus.

Only one focus may be used for each round of casting time.

While there are foci listed under each effect, these are guidelines, and other objects/materials may be used as foci at the DM’s discretion.  Foci serve as elements to aid the mind of the mage as much as tap the thaumflow.

Casting Time:

Base casting time is considered to be 1 full round, to gather the energies of the thaumflow and direct it into useful effect.  Reducing the amount of time to cast to a single action doubles the spell point cost of the spell.  On the other hand, extending the amount of time it takes to cast the spell will decrease the number of points required to cast the spell.  For each full round the casting is extended by, it will cost two fewer spell points, to a minimum of 3 spell points per casting.  If the casting gets interrupted at any point during an extended casting time, the caster may choose to release the spell in it’s incomplete form (effects adjucated by the DM), or lose the spell and invested SP.

Preparation:

A caster may prepare beforehand any number of spells by recording them in a specially prepared book, much like a standard wizard’s spellbook.  The spell point cost for these spells is 3/4 what it is normally, and is spent (all except 1 point) at the time of preparation (usually just after waking, though it may be at any time of day, as long as an hour is taken to prepare).  Thereafter, the caster is able to spend the final point and cast the spell as a standard action.  One focus may be used for each prepared spell.

Familiarity:

Most casters find themselves falling into patterns of utilizing the same effects over and over again.  The mental effort of calling these effects into existence becomes less and less with increased practice, much like muscle memory aids in physical tasks over time.  The reduction in spell point costs is given on the chart below:

Number of previous castings: 1 2 4 8 16 32 64 128
Total reduction in SP costs: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Max time frame: 1 hour 4 hours 16 hr. 2.5 day 10 day 42 days 6 mo. 2 year

Number of previous castings: the number of times you have cast the exact same manifestation (whether successful or not) in the given time period.

Total reduction in SP costs:  the number of SP you may reduce the cost by if you have cast the same spell the requisite number of times in the given time period.

Max time frame:  The length of time that the given spell effect has an impact on your mental pathways.  With more use, a spell makes more permanent pathways, but after time those paths fade as the mind of the caster learns and grows.

Number of Casters:

Any number of casters of the same training may join together to cast more powerful spells.  The combined spell points of all casters may be used to power the spell.  Default casting time is one minute per caster involved, to allow each to synchronize their mind with the other caster’s minds.  The mind of a caster is necessarily unique, and to coordinate the energies of multiple minds is a sensitive and time consuming effort.  Reducing the casting time may be done, however, by increasing the cost of the spell by 10% for each minute the casting time is reduced by.  Casting time cannot be reduced to below one minute for a multi-caster spell.

Focus Elements:

Rude Chalked/drawn circle with lines equally spaced connecting the positions of all casters 10% reduction of SP Requirement or lower time reduction to 5% per minute
Adequate Nonpermanent physical circle connecting all casters 20% reduction of SP requirement or lower time reduction to 3% per minute
Superb Permanent physical of base material (wood, iron, water filled trench, etc.) circle connecting all casters 30% reduction of SP req. and lower time reduction cost to 5% per minute
Sublime Permanent physical circle of precious materials (silver, gold, gemstones, etc.) connecting all casters 40% reduction of SP req. and lower time reduction cost to 3% per minute

Regarding the reduction of SP costs: Whole points are deducted first, and then percentages applied to the resultant number, in order from greatest to least.

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Combat Stress

So this came about from reading through the back catalog of Alexis Smolensk’s Tao of D&D. (that’s where I’ve been since before the last post, and I’m still not through it all)  The guy is dedicated, experienced, and does not suffer fools.  Go read everything he’s written, buy his books, improve your game.  Seriously, don’t waste your time anywhere else, the Tao is the grand-master of DMs.

Anyhow, in one of his posts (entitled Medicine, from 2013) he mentioned that trauma rarely leaves a lasting mark on PCs, where any real person attacked out of the darkness would carry that terror, that trauma with them for a long while.  Presented below is my attempt to codify that trauma and apply it to characters in a meaningful way, based largely upon current research about PTSD but modified a bit to flow into a usable system for gaming.

Traumatic Stress:  After any critical hit, wounding strike, injury that takes the character into negative hit points, or witnessing a comrade die in combat, a wisdom check (rolling at or under the character’s Wisdom score on a d20) is made.  Since those who are battle-hardened are less likely to be affected by sights or experiences of the brutality that occurs in combat through long exposure to such, modify the d20 roll downward per the character’s Base Attack Bonus.  If the check fails, the character gains 1d4 Trauma Points.  These are then applied by rolling on the Stress table (below).  Each Stress symptom can have up to 4 points, and the more points a symptom has, the more severe the effects (described below).

Re-Experiencing Avoidance and Numbing Anxiety and Emotional Arousal
1 Upsetting Memories 6 Avoidance 11 Insomnia
2 Flashbacks 7 Memory Loss 12 Anger
3 Nightmares 8 Disinterest 13 Distraction
4 Emotional Distress at reminders 9 Detachment 14 Hypervigilance
5 Physical Reaction to reminders 10 Limited Future 15 Startling

These points will “heal” one every 5-(Wis modifier) weeks if another successful Wisdom check is made (this time unmodified by BAB).  A character receiving counseling (at least 4 hours a week) would be treated as having a Wisdom score of two higher for the purpose of this check, and the interval between checks would be decreased accordingly as well, if the counseling was continuous during that time.  However, this benefit does not apply if additional trauma points are gained in the interval.

Re-Experiencing

Upsetting Memories – Upsetting memories are unwelcome replays of traumatic events that intrude on normal thought, but do not unduly interfere with normal action.  Physical work may be slowed somewhat, but speech becomes stilted, and the sufferer is unable to hold a meaningful conversation for some 5 – 20 minutes while the memories are intruding and being pushed away.  Affects the sufferer according to the following schedule.  Roll a d6 each day, an event occurs that day if the roll is lower or equal to the number of trauma points accumulated in this stress symptom: (sorry about the table being less than Table-ey, WordPress doesn’t handle tab stops very well)

Trauma Points Roll
1 1 in 6
2 2 in 6
3 3 in 6
4 4 in 6

Flashbacks – flashbacks are vivid rememberings of traumatic events that seem real and cohesive to the sufferer. When suffering a flashback, no communication or meaningful action is possible. The victim is wholly under the impression that they are once again experiencing the traumatic event. The sufferer will cry out, thrash, or become still and unresponsive for the duration of the flashback. These episodes can last from 1 to 10 minutes, on the same chance as Upsetting Memories, based on the number of trauma points in this category.

Nightmares – nightmares are terrifying dreams of traumatic events, either of the event itself or of a similar, imagined event.  Those suffering from nightmares will become restless during sleep, possibly cry out, strike at the air, or other physical responses.  After a nightmare, the sufferer will awake in terror and remain awake for 10 to 60 minutes.  Nightmares may occur at the frequency given on the table above.

Emotional Distress at Reminders of Trauma – After suffering a reminder of a traumatic event (be it flashback, nightmare, intrusive memories, or external reminders), the victim will endure emotional distress because of these reminders.  This may manifest as a refusal to participate in normal interactions, weeping, isolation, manic hysteria, or angry outbursts.  The severity and duration of these episodes is dependent on the number of trauma points assigned to this category.  After suffering Upsetting Memories, Flashbacks, or Nightmares, the sufferer must make a Wisdom check at -2, -4, -6 or -8 (for 1, 2, 3, or 4 points in this category).  The duration of the abnormal emotional response is 5-10, 10-15, 15-20, or 20-30 minutes depending on the points in this category.

Physical Reaction to Reminders of Trauma – After suffering a reminder of a traumatic event (be it flashback, nightmare, intrusive memories, or external reminders), the victim will endure physical effects relating to the trauma experienced.  This may manifest as nausea/vomiting, severe pain in an old wound, headache/migrane, or racing heart/labored breathing.  The severity and duration of these episodes is dependent on the number of trauma points assigned to this category.  After suffering Upsetting Memories, Flashbacks, or Nightmares, the sufferer must make a Wisdom check at -2, -4, -6 or -8 (for 1, 2, 3, or 4 points in this category).  The duration of the abnormal emotional response is 5-10, 10-15, 15-20, or 20-30 minutes depending on the points in this category.

Avoidance and Numbing

Avoidance – Sufferers will subconsciously avoid those things which share a resemblance to the events or characters of a traumatic event.  These may include locations reminiscent of the location where the trauma occurred, persons resembling the assailant, the weapons or implements used during the trauma, or more esoteric things such as thoughts that occurred prior to the trauma, or decisions that lead to the trauma occurring.  The degree to which these things are avoided is dependent on the number of trauma points in this category.  For example: if Adventurer A was attacked in a dungeon hallway by an orc wielding a pickaxe and suffered a critical hit from said orc, Adventurer A might avoid any of the specific characteristics of that event.  If he had 1 point in Avoidance, he may unconsciously avoid dark, underground passages that are carved from living stone.  If he had 2 points, he may avoid dark hallways of any kind.  3 points, any hallways or dark spaces.  4 points, any underground structure at all, or any hallway.  A wisdom check may be made (at a -2, -4, -6, or -8) to overcome this avoidance and enter/interact with the avoided stimulus.

Memory Loss – A common coping mechanism of sentient creatures is to forget important aspects of a traumatic situation.  Depending on the points in this category, the amount forgotten may be a few seconds to the entire day.  This is not normally problematic, but may become an issue if the specific stimulus that triggers other responses cannot be determined because of the loss of memory of the traumatic event.

Disinterest – The sufferer may become disinterested in things he/she once enjoyed, such as food, dancing, card playing, or any or all other activities, depending on the severity of the affliction.  At 1 point, the sufferer may be less enthusiastic about a favorite activity. At 2 points generally ambivalent to several favorite pursuits.  At 3 points, disinterested in all but a few activities. At 4 points, extremely uninterested in any activity at all.

Detachment – Trauma will cause the sufferer to withdraw from relationships and social activities and become numbed to emotions.  At one point the sufferer will be less fervent in keeping promises and fulfilling obligations; at two points feeling will be dulled, so happy or sad events will seem less significant than to others; at three points other people will not seem to matter much, and promises will be forgotten due to disinterest; and at four points only extremely affecting events will be reacted to with any emotion at all, and then only minor changes in emotional response will occur.

Limited Future – Positive outcomes in the future will seem extremely unlikely.  This will result in a lack of meaningful planning, ambition, and enthusiasm for life.  1 point signifies a lack of belief in overall, long-term success of major projects.  2 points indicates significant life events will be believed to become impossible (getting married, having children).  3 points indicate a lack of belief in career success, leading to poor or absent risk management planning.  4 points indicates a belief that any plan undertaken is doomed to failure, so nothing is worth trying.

Anxiety and Emotional Arousal

Insomnia – Sufferers will not be able to sleep for long stretches of time, or will have fitful, unrestful sleep.  1 point will result in only 6-7 hours of sleep on a 1 in 6 chance per night.  2 points will result in a max of 5-6 hours on a 2 in six chance per night.  3 points means 4-5 hours max at a 3 in 6 chance per night. 4 points means a max of 3-4 hours of sleep at a 4 in 6 chance per night, not counting time spent awake due to Nightmares.

Anger  – Perhaps the most visible symptom of traumatic stress, one or more points in Anger will make it more likely that the sufferer will have random outbursts of irrational anger, sometimes at reminders of traumatic events, sometimes in stressful situations that are completely unrelated.  1 point indicates that some reminder of the trauma will result in a burst of irrational anger on a chance of 1 in 10.  2 points will result in anger in any stressful situation on a chance of 2 in 10, or 3 in 10 where a specific reminder of the trauma is involved.  3 points will mean a chance of irrational anger for no reason 1 in 10 days, overreaction to stress at 4 in 10, or with reminder at 5 in 10.  4 points indicates bursts of irrational anger  may occur on a 1 in 6 chance every hour, stress reactions at 5 in 10, and with a reminder of 7 in 10.  Intoxication would increase chances in every case by 2.

Distraction – Trauma preoccupation will result in a character being easily distracted or forgetful and make it harder to complete or perform tasks that require time and attention to complete.  1 point will increase the time to complete such tasks by 25%, (thus and 8 hour task would take 10 hours).  2 points by 50%; 3 points by 75% and 4 points by 100%.

Hypervigilance  – In hypervigilance, there is a perpetual scanning of the environment to search for sights, sounds, people, behaviors, smells, or anything else that is reminiscent of threat or trauma. The individual is placed on high alert in order to be certain danger is not near. Hypervigilance can lead to a variety of obsessive behavior patterns, as well as producing difficulties with social interaction and relationships. Below is the table describing the chance of violent overreaction to which stimuli per point of trauma.

1 1 in 10 persons approaching quickly, brandishing small objects
2 3 in 10 swift changes in position of persons being interacted with, loud noises nearby
3 5 in 10 strangers appearing suddenly, loud noises far away, rushing crowds
4 7 in 10 any sudden movement, loud noise, or unpleasant demeanor

Startling – similar to Hypervigilance, but with a fear reaction instead of aggressive reaction. Duration of incomprehensibility and to what stimuli (see Hypervigilance table for stimuli) increase with points. 1 point indicates 1d4 minutes of reaction to very specific stimuli, generally relating to the original trauma. 2 points indicate 2d4 minutes to more general stimuli, which may or may not relate to the original trauma. 3 points indicate 2d6 minutes reaction to fairly common stimuli. 4 points indicate 3d6 minutes reaction to broad stimuli.

So, there it is.  It may not be as clear as I think it is, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask and I will clarify as necessary.

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Heroic Weaponry

A Hero’s Weapon is a legendary weapon wielded by a hero of great renown. Any weapon or armor has the potential to become a Hero’s Weapon, and as it’s wielder increases in power, so does the weapon’s (or armor’s) own power increase. At each level, a PC gains a number of Upgrade Points equal to his previous character level. Thus, a 4th level character increasing to a 5th level character gains 4 Upgrade Points. These points may be used according to the tables below to upgrade any weapon, armor, or shield that he or she wielded for a majority of the previous level’s adventuring. Certain special abilities may or may not be available at the DM’s discretion, and special ability prerequisites may be modified by the DM. These bonuses act as magic bonuses.

When wielded by someone other than the PC who imbued the weapon with power, the total available bonuses are equal to half of the weapon’s total bonus (which special abilities and enhancement bonuses available are up to the DM) until the character has gained Upgrade Points of their own and has used the weapon enough for it to be eligible to receive Upgrades from the new character.

Adding upgrade bonuses to weapons or armor functions essentially similar to adding magical bonuses to weapons, the difference being that the cost is paid with experience rather than gold. In order to add a bonus to a weapon or armor, a character must have the requisite Upgrade Points available to spend. Unused Upgrade Points may be carried over from level to level, but can only be spent during a level-up. Once allocated, these upgrades can be removed at another level-up period, but they only return half of the points used to create them to their owner’s point pool. The exception to this rule is that if an upgrade is superseding a lower-power version of the same ability (eg. upgrading from flaming to flaming burst), the upgrade cost is a number of levels lower according to the bonus of the superseded power. For example: upgrading from flaming (+1 bonus) to flaming burst (+2 bonus) would only cost as many points as an increase in one total bonus level.  Or, upgrading from Acid Resistance (+4 bonus) to Acid Resistance, Greater (+8 bonus) would only cost as many points as going up 4 levels in power.

Only one upgrade may be applied/removed per item per level. If a character has sufficient points to add upgrades to more than one item, he may do so during the same level-up process. To add a special ability that would increase the total bonus of the weapon or armor by more than one, the upgrade points for both levels must be spent. E.g. if a +1 Longsword were to have Flaming Burst added to it (a +2 equivalent bonus) it’s wielder would have to spend 16 points (6 for +2 total, and another 10 for +3 total bonus). Weapons or armor may not have more than a +10 total bonus until their wielder reaches 21st level, and they may not have more than +5 in simple enhancement bonuses until 21st level.

Weapon upgrade point costs:

Weapon Upgrades Armor Upgrades
Total Bonus Point Cost Total Bonus Point Cost
+1 2 +1 1
+2 6 +2 3
+3 10 +3 5
+4 14 +4 7
+5 18 +5 9
+6 22 +6 11
+7 26 +7 13
+8 30 +8 15
+9 34 +9 17
+10 38 +10 19

Special ability tables:

Weapon Special Abilities
Cost Description Key Event Omen Notes
+1 Bane – deadly against certain foes Must deal 80 points of damage to creatures of the particular subtype Glows when creatures of the appropriate type are within 60 ft
+1 Defending – transfer weapon bonus to AC Must have parried 10 attacks (extra bonus from fighting defensively used) Faint shield appears to wielder only Melee weapons only
+1 Distance – doubles range increment Must have dealt 20 points of damage to an enemy at least two range increments away Weapon hums slightly when fully readied to fire/throw Ranged weapons only
+1 Flaming – deals fire damage Must have been used to inflict or channel 15 points of fire damage or used to slay a monster of fire subtype Sounds of fire crackling when wielded
+1 Frost – deal cold damage Must have been used to inflict or channel 15 points of cold damage, or used to slay a monster of cold subtype Handle always cool to the touch
+1 Returning Must have dealt 80 points of damage with thrown attacks Returns per description Thrown weapons only
+1 Shock – deal electricity damage Must have been used to inflict or channel 15 points of electricity damage, or used to slay a monster that deals electricity damage Sound of thunder when opponent struck
+1 Seeking Must have dealt 20 points of damage to enemies with cover Wielder’s vision focuses on target when readied to fire/throw Ranged weapons only
+1 Ghost Touch – deals normal damage to incorporeal creatures Must have dealt 20 points of damage to incorporeal creature Weapon appears slightly transparent to wielder
+1 Keen – double threat range of weapon Must have dealt 3 critical hits in one day, or seven in one week Blade edge becomes difficult to look at
+1 Merciful – weapon deals extra nonlethal damage Must have been used to deal 50 points of subdual damage sharp edges appear rounded, blunt surfaces feel softer
+1 Mighty Cleaving – extra cleave per round Must have been used to make 3 cleaves in a day, or 7 in one week Weapon appears slightly tarnished by bloodstains
+1 Throwing – may be thown without penalty Must have dealt 20 points of damage from throwing Weapon hums slightly when waved about or thrown Melee weapon only
+1 Thundering – deals sonic damage on crit Must have dealt killing blow to a monster during a thunderstorm Thunders loudly on critical hit
+1 Vicious – deals extra damage to opponent and wielder Must have dealt 20 points of damage to its wielder (through fumbles or self-inflicted) Weapon glows dark when held Melee weapons only
+2 Anarchic Hero must be of Chaotic alignment and weapon must have dealt 80 points of damage to lawful creatures, or used to deal killing blow to lawful outsider. Weapon covered in faintly glowing random swirls and lines that appear to shift when observed
+2 Axiomatic Hero must be of Lawful alignment and weapon must have dealt 80 points of damage to chaotic creatures, or used to deal killing blow to chaotic outsider Weapon is covered in mathematically regular pattern
+2 Disruption Hero must be of non-evil alignment and weapon must have dealt 80 points of damage to undead creatures Weapon glows with pure white light that shines as a torch. Will save DC increases by +1 for every two levels weapon is kept elegible for upgrades.
+2 Flaming Burst Weapon must have been used to deal 80 points of fire damage, or dealt lethal critical hit to creature with fire subtype Blade or head of weapon is wreathed in flame when wielded Upgrade only costs +1 bonus when replacing Flaming ability
+2 Icy Burst Weapon must have been used to deal 80 points of cold damage, or dealt lethal critical hit to creature with cold subtype Blade or head of weapon is wreathed in frost when wielded Upgrade only costs +1 bonus when replacing Frost ability
+2 Holy Hero must be of Good alignment. Weapon must have dealt 80 points of damage to evil outsiders, or be used in completion of divine quest. Weapon prominently displays holy symbol of patron diety of Hero
+2 Shocking Burst Weapon must have been used to deal 80 points of electricity damage, or dealt lethal critical hit to creature that deals electricity damage Blade or head of weapon is wreathed in arcing electricity when wielded Upgrade only costs +1 bonus when replacing Shock ability
+2 Unholy Hero must be of Evil alignment. Weapon must have dealt 80 points of damage to good outsiders, or be used in completion of 10 sacrificial rituals. Weapon prominently displays unholy symbol of patron diety of Hero
+2 Wounding Weapon must have severed 10 limbs, or be used to slay a vampire or other energy draining monster. Weapon appears caked in dried blood
+3 Speed Weapon must have made 6 successful attacks in 3 rounds Weapon feel ligher than it appears it should
+4 Brilliant Energy Weapon must have slain a creature of the air subtype As the ability description
+4 Dancing Weapon must have dealt 30 points of damage while unattended Weapon seems to try to leap from it’s wielder’s hand
+5 Vorpal Weapon must have removed 10 heads from enemies Weapon turns black with a shining silver edge when wielded
Armor Special Abilities
Bonus Description Key Event Omen Notes
+1 Glamered Must have spent 24 hours disguised Appears as normal clothing
+1 Fortification, Light Must have been subjected to 3 critical hits Armor is decorated with a tower motif May also be applied to shields
+2 Slick Must have been submerged in an oily substance for 24 hours or worn while escaping from bonds 3 times Armor feels as though it has a film of oil on at all times
+2 Shadow Must have hidden in successfully from 10 enemies Armor is black and blurred at the edges
+2 Silent Moves Must have moved silently past 10 enemies Edges of this armor feel soft and padded, but do not look so
+2 Spell Resistance (13) Must have been subjected to 13 levels of offensive spells Armor glows and shimmers faintly in very dark environs May also be applied to shields
+3 Ghost Touch Must have been worn while fighting 3 incorporeal enemies Armor appears translucent May also be applied to shields
+3 Invulnerability Must have blocked 40 attacks Armor appears thicker than usual and has a stonelike feel to its surface
+3 Fortification, Moderate Must have been subject to 9 critical hits Armor is decorated with a tower and wall motif May also be applied to shields
+3 Spell Resistance (15) Must have been subjected to 27 levels of offensive spells Armor glows and shimmers faintly in dark environs, shines briefly when a spell is resisted May also be applied to shields
+3 Wild Must have been worn while in an alternate form Bears image of alternate form most often used by Hero May also be applied to shields
+4 Slick, Improved Must have been submerged in an oily substance for 48 hours or worn while escaping from bonds 6 times As Slick Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+4 Shadow, Improved Must have successfully hidden from 20 enemies As Shadow Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+4 Silent Moves, Improved Must have moved silently past 20 enemies As Silent Moves Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+4 Acid Resistance Must have been subjected to 20 points of acid damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields
+4 Cold Resistance Must have been subjected to 20 points of Cold damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields
+4 Electricity Resistance Must have been subjected to 20 points of Electricity damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields
+4 Fire Resistance Must have been subjected to 20 points of Fire damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields
+4 Sonic Resistance Must have been subjected to 20 points of Sonic damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields
+4 Spell Resistance (17) Must have been subjected to 44 levels of offensive spells Armor glows and shimmers faintly in shadowy environs, shines briefly when a spell is resisted May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+5 Fortification, Heavy Must have been subject to 27 critical hits Translucent armor plates appear to wearer May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+5 Spell Resistance (19) Must have been subjected to 63 levels of offensive spells Armor glows and shimmers faintly in shadowy environs, shines for 1 round when a spell is resisted May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+6 Slick, Greater Must have been submerged in an oily substance for 72 hours or worn while escaping from bonds 9 times As Slick Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+6 Shadow, Greater Must have successfully hidden from 30 enemies As Shadow Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+6 Silent Moves, Greater Must have moved silently past 30 enemies As Silent Moves Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+6 Acid Resistance, Improved Must have been subjected to 40 points of Acid damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+6 Cold Resistance, Improved Must have been subjected to 40 points of Cold damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+6 Electricity Resistance, Improved Must have been subjected to 40 points of Electricity damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+6 Fire Resistance, Improved Must have been subjected to 40 points of Fire damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+6 Sonic Resistance, Improved Must have been subjected to 40 points of Sonic damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+7 Etheralness Must have spent 8 hours on the Etheral Plane Armor is covered in faint etchings reminiscent of spiderwebs
+7 Undead Controlling Wearer must have rebuked 26 HD of undead while wearing the armor Armor is decorated in a death’s head motif May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+8 Acid Resistance, Greater Must have been subjected to 80 points of Acid damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+8 Cold Resistance, Greater Must have been subjected to 80 points of Cold damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+8 Electricity Resistance, Greater Must have been subjected to 80 points of Electricity damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+8 Fire Resistance, Greater Must have been subjected to 80 points of Fire damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+8 Sonic Resistance, Greater Must have been subjected to 80 points of Sonic damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
Shield Special Abilities
+1 Arrow Catching Shield must have protected its bearer from 20 ranged attacks Shield engraved with concentric circles (similar to a bullseye)
+1 Bashing Shield must have been used to deal 20 points of damage Shield appears to have a hammered finish
+1 Blinding Shield must have been subjected to 5 ray attacks Shield is decorated with a lighthouse or lantern
+2 Arrow Deflection Shield must have protected its bearer from 60 ranged attacks Shield is decorated in a tortise shell motif
+2 Animated Shield must have exposed to magical levitation/manipulation for 8 total hours Shield seems to try to jump out of the hand of it’s wielder
+3 Wild Shield must have been wielded while in an alternate form Shield emblazoned with owner’s favored alternate form
+5 Reflecting Shield must have been subjected to 3 gaze attacks or 60 levels of spells Per ability description
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