Tome of Variance

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TOME of VARIANCE
variant rules options
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Contents


This is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards of the Coast. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, D&D, Wizards of the Coast, and all other Wizards of the Coast product names, and their respective logos are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast in the USA and other countries.

All art is property of their respective artists and/or Wizards of the Coast and were sourced from the excellent website http://www.artofmtg.com.

Design, layout features & page graphics are copyright 2021 by GM Binder (We Write Code) and are used under the Terms of Service.

All other original material, except where another source is cited, is copyright 2021 by Rules.Mechanic@gmail.com and is open licensed under Creative Commons CC BY 4.0.

You can find the latest version of this handbook free on GM Binder (as well as previous versions 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0) or on the Tome of Variance webpage. OGL (SRD5) editions are also free on GM Binder (versions 3.0 and 3.5) and an A5E OGL edition is planned for version 4.0. The differently-styled Nebelun's Pandect of Possibilities is free/PWYW on DMs Guild but no longer being updated.

Version 3.5, November 2021. Updates include: clickable internal page links; minor corrections; experimental proficiency flexibility; and an alternative to the "rolling success" method (archived). Feedback very welcome.

Introduction

Welcome to the Tome of Variance, a handbook of variant rules options for the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons®. Within this tinkerer's tome, core D&D® game mechanics are buffed and built on, reconfigured and re-imagined, while keeping the distinctive feel (and compatibility) of fifth edition.

Adding Optional Depth

The handbook has been designed as a cohesive but modular set of options that add useful depth for both roleplayer and rollplayer, without disrupting compatibility or accessibility. Fairness and balance are central tenets, whilst allowing for different campaign styles: options with a (pseudo) realism approach may suit a grittier campaign; alternative versions may create a more heroic feel.

How to Use This Book

This rulebook is organized into chapters that broadly match sections of the Player's Handbook or Dungeon Master's Guide. If the options in a chapter catch your interest, try them out in a playtest or even a regular session - either as a block, or by picking individual options. Even the more transformative options are designed to be friendly with game balance and involve minimal or no conversion. If they don't catch your interest, or fail to shine in the playtest, you can leave them and still try some of the other options. Although everything in this ruleset is designed to play well together, each option also stands alone and you can simply select the options that suit your group's taste and style.

The chapters are organized into four parts. The first contains core options and mechanics. The second contains additional options for specific circumstances, equipment, or feats. The third is an appendix for more experimental options and the fourth is an archive of useful alternate options from previous editions of the Tome.

Notes on the Tome

My thanks to all the curious experimentalists who pulled this Tome of Variance off the shelf of possibilities, dusted off their shiny click clack maths rocks, and tried out some new twists on the classic rules. Thanks also to GM Binder for fantastic design tools, and to Wizards of the Coast for their really supportive Fan Content Policy, including stunning artwork.

This project was very much a by-product of the pandemic, written as a welcome relief around the long hours of that all-consuming tarrasque-esque side-quest, and its microscopic BBEG. I hope you enjoy exploring these new options as much as I have enjoyed giving them a home between these pages.

The rules here have been extensively playtested through various iterations, but they are wide in scope and have transformative mechanics so, with wider use, there will inevitably be issues and suggestions, perhaps especially with the more experimental options; please let me know at Rules.Mechanic@gmail.com (or Twitter @Rules_Mechanic).

If you found this handbook useful, please spread the word. And if you would like to do more, consider a donation to your favorite charity. Charity income has been hit very hard by the pandemic and every bit helps at the moment.

[RM]
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VARIANCE | INTRODUCTION

Part 1

Core Options
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Degree of Success

Degree of success (or failure) is a shared feature of many of the main variant options in this handbook. It's a simple way to add depth by expanding “pass or fail” into a spectrum of outcomes, while also linking skill to the likelihood of achieving the best results. It rewards players for doing what they can to achieving the very best roll, while giving them reason to think twice about risking a botched effort.

This variant rule expands on the "Degrees of Failure" option (Dungeon Master’s Guide), to provide a standard system for both success and failure across different types of rolls, while preserving the familiar fifth edition mechanic of Difficulty Class (DC) being in tiers of +/- 5. It’s a very intuitive system: rolling much higher than the target results in a much better outcome, rolling much lower results in a much worse outcome. And using steps of +/- 5 keeps the system fast and undemanding.

Roll Margin Outcome
Fail by 10 or more 10- Critical Failure
Fail by 5 (5-9) 5- Heavy Failure
Fail by 1 (1-4) 1- Failure
Exact roll 0 Marginal
Succeed by 1 (1-4) 1+ Success
Succeed by 5 (5-9) 5+ Strong Success
Succeed by 10 or more 10+ Critical Success

For example, the next table shows the rolls that would lead to each outcome when making a DC 10 or a DC 15 roll. For the DC 10 roll, after adjusting for any modifiers: a 10 is marginal; above that's a success; from 15 it's a strong success; and from 20 it's a critical success. Similarly, below 10 is a failure; from 5 it's a heavy failure; and from 0 it's a critical failure.

Adjusted Roll DC 10 Adjusted Roll DC 15
0 or less Critical Failure 5 or less Critical Failure
1-5 Heavy Failure 6-10 Heavy Failure
4-9 Failure 11-14 Failure
10 Marginal 15 Marginal
11-14 Success 16-19 Success
15-19 Strong Success 20-24 Strong Success
20 or more Critical Success 25 or more Critical Success

Rolling a Natural 1 or 20

Rolling a critical success or critical failure when using degree of success is the equivalent of rolling a natural 20 or a natural 1 with the standard system. In playtesting, the preferred option was to combine the two by keeping the effect of a natural 20 or 1: simply count a roll of 20 as always being a critical success and a 1 as always being a critical failure.

Stacking Advantage and Disadvantage

In the core rules, advantage and disadvantage don’t stack. So advantage from multiple sources is no greater than a single source of advantage. Similarly, if there are multiple sources imposing advantage and disadvantage, then neither apply, even if there are more sources of one than the other.


To stack, you can simply allow multiple sources of advantage and disadvantage to cancel one-for-one. If there are more sources of advantage than disadvantage, then advantage applies, and visa versa. As an additional option, if you are left with multiple advantage (or disadvantage), you may choose to allow additional dice for each.

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VARIANCE | DEGREE OF SUCCESS

Ability Checks

Many adventure modules include a range of outcomes for key ability checks by providing a spectrum of DCs for each check, across the common tiers of DC 10 (easy), 15 (medium), 20 (hard), etc ("Ability Checks", Player’s Handbook).

The degree of success rules presented here extend that depth to all ability checks by giving a spectrum of outcomes according to the degree of success (or failure) against a single DC.

Perhaps you are attempting a Charisma (Persuasion) check to ask for a queen’s help. A critical failure might mean that she throws you in the dungeon for your impudence; a heavy failure that she sends you away; simple failure has no additional consequence so you can try again with the High Vizier; marginal could get her support but with a bribe; simple success results in her support as intended; strong success gets some extra aid from the High Vizier who was listening in; and critical success could inspire the Queen to put on her armor and lead the way!

The descriptions in the table below aim to be fluid enough to adapt to any ability check and fit within your story, while giving a consistent framework to guide the outcome.

Marginal can often be the most interesting result and the outcome here is similar to the "Success at a Cost" option (Dungeon Master’s Guide). The ability check succeeded …but only just, so there is only a partial success or some negative consequence.

Result Description
Critical Failure (10-) Now in a worse situation than started (if using a tool, damaged; if social interaction, opposite effect; etc)
Heavy Failure (5-) A small negative consequence
Failure (1-) No additional consequences
Marginal (0) Success at a Cost (succeeds but only partially or with a small negative consequence)
Success (1+) Core aim achieved, no additional gain
Strong Success (5+) Enhanced effect, or a small additional gain
Critical Success (10+) Maximum effect, or an additional gain as big as the original aim

Help with Ability Checks

This variant of "Working Together" (Player's Handbook) is based on Optional Rule's Friends with Advantage. If you can reasonably receive help from one or more others, then both you and one helper (your choice) roll. Use the highest result.

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Sequential Checks

Sequential checks are a simple and effective option to determine a multi-stage or multi-skill challenge. The rogue who creeps along the rooftops (Sneak) before leaping down (Acrobatics) to surprise their mark. The wizard hunting through the library of the ancients for the cure to the bard's curse (Arcana and Investigation). However, note that each cumulative check adds difficulty in a similar way to rolling with disadvantage, so consider dropping a difficulty level (5 DC) for each additional ability check to maintain a similar chance of overall success.

If you are using the "Degree of Success" option, consider only using degree of success for the final ability check, unless each check is a distinct stage with a distinct outcome. However, if you want a cumulative degree of success, a marginal (exact roll) could confer disadvantage on the next roll (so that you may even wish to abandon and restart the attempt), a strong success (5+) could allow a reroll on the next roll, and a critical success (10+) could confer advantage on the next roll (see table below).

Result Description
Critical Failure (10-) Now in a worse situation than started, due to this stage
Heavy Failure (5-) A small negative consequence, due to this stage failing
Failure (1-) Fails without additional consequences
Marginal (0) Disadvantage on next stage's roll
Success (1+) Next stage as normal
Strong Success (5+) You may reroll the next check, but must keep the reroll
Critical Success (10+) Advantage on next stage's roll
VARIANCE | ABILITY CHECKS

Ability Checks in Combat

Using abilities during combat can add another dimension to the action, while also bringing in skills that otherwise get side-lined once initiative is rolled. Identifying the monstrosity (Nature), celestial (Religion) or elemental (Arcana) that has attacked the party; determining (Investigation) the construct's weaknesses; disguising the somatic (Sleight of Hand) or verbal (Deception) component of a spell; scaring (Intimidate) or distracting (Performance) an opponent; persuading (Persuasion) onlookers to join the fight; tumbling (Acrobatics)


or barging (Athletics) past an opponent to retrieve your fallen sword without Leaving Yourself Open (page 15).

To enable this, you may allow "Improvising an Action" (Player's Handbook) to use a bonus action instead of a main action, if the check is then rolled with disadvantage. If the ability check requires an interaction with an object, it still requires the time associated with that interaction, although you can interact with one object or feature of the environment for free on your turn ("Other Activities on Your Turn", Player's Handbook).

Saving Throws

Much like ability checks, saving throws really lend themselves to degrees of success or failure, both in narrative and in mechanics. The degree of success tables below expand the "Degrees of Failure" option (Dungeon Master’s Guide) to both success and failure.

The two tables here cover both main types of saving throws: saves to entirely avoid an effect, damage, or a condition; and saves to halve damage from an effect.

For compatibility with saving throw outcomes presented in monster stat blocks etc, follow the system of "Specific Beats General" (Player's Handbook) so that any specific outcomes described elsewhere take precedence over the general outcomes described here.

Saving Throw to Avoid Effect
Roll Effect Damage Conditions
Critical Failure (10-) Maximum effect Take maximum damage Double duration. Disadvantage on saves to end condition
Heavy Failure (5-) Enhanced effect Reroll low damage dice once Double duration
Failure (1-) Usual effect Usual damage Usual effect
Marginal (0) Partial effect Half damage Half duration. Advantage on saves to end condition
Success (1+) Negates Negates Negates
Strong Success (5+) Negates. Automatic success for rest of day if same save type from same source Negates. Automatic success for rest of day if same save type from same source Negates. Automatic success for rest of day if same save type from same source
Critical Success (10+) Negates. Automatic success for rest of day if same source Negates. Automatic success for rest of day if same source Negates. Automatic success for rest of day if same source
Saving Throw to Halve Damage
Roll Damage
Critical Failure (10-) Take maximum damage (damage dice count as their highest possible roll)
Heavy Failure (5-) Reroll low damage dice once (replaces their original rolls)
Failure (1-) Usual damage
Marginal (0) Half damage but reroll low damage dice rolls once
Success (1+) Half damage
Strong Success (5+) Quarter damage
Critical Success (10+) No damage
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VARIANCE | SAVING THROWS

Combat

Combat is perhaps the most visible and iconic of the three pillars of adventuring in D&D. If you enjoy the details and narrative of combat, this section discusses two core options that may add further depth: degree of success and defense. These options are distinct but complimentary and may be used separately or together. Additional options for specific combat situations and tactics are described in Part 2.

Degree of Success: Combat

Degree of success can be also be used for combat and is similarly intuitive in describing the quality of an attack. A better attack bonus increases the chance of hitting and of hitting well, increasing damage by shifting the degree of success towards strong and critical hits. Equally, armor not only reduces the chance of being hit but also the success margin, reducing the damage being dealt by that strike.

On average, degree of success will slightly increase the damage being done per attack (whether melee, ranged, or spell), as additional strong and critical hits will usually more than balance the glancing blows. The same will be seen with heavy and critical failures from saving throws, so the effect is largely similar across different sources of damage.

Roll Outcome
Critical Failure (10-) Critical Fumble - Provokes an opportunity attack in melee, or misfire if ranged
Heavy Failure (5-) Miss (note no additional effect)
Failure (1-) Miss
Marginal (0) Glancing Blow - half damage
Success (1+) Hit - usual damage
Strong Success (5+) Strong Hit - reroll any number of damage dice once (replaces their original roll)
Critical Success (10+) Critical Hit - maximum damage (damage dice count as their highest possible roll)

Critical Hits and Fumbles

### Critical Hits as Maximum Damage This is a variant for damage from a critical hit. Instead of doubling damage dice, use the maximum of the regular damage dice (so each die counts as its highest possible roll). This has a similar average effect, but never does less damage than a normal hit (or strong hit) and also avoids chance extremes from high rolls on doubled dice. Essentially a critical hit becomes the highest possible damage that a hit might normally achieve.
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Effects that increase damage dice

A number of effects add extra damage dice, either on any roll (e.g. Divine Smites, Martial Advantage, Orcish Fury, Sneak Attacks, etc) or only on a critical hit (e.g. Brutal Criticals, Savage Attacks, etc). With the standard rules, the first group are doubled (or, in this case, counted as maximum) on a critical hit and the second are not. You may wish to keep this.

An alternative that works well with degree of success (where critical hits can be more common), is for this to depend on declaring intent before the attack roll. So if you declare a Sneak Attack or a Smite before your attack roll, it will occur on any hit and be affected by the degree of success outcome (half damage with a Glancing Blow, maximum damage with a Critical Hit, etc). If you declare a Sneak Attack after the attack roll, or your Brutal Critical is triggered by a critical, then it is not affected by the degree of success (so you just roll the standard extra dice, not doubled or maxed).

Critical Fumbles

When using degree or success (or failure), a critical fumble occurs when the attack roll misses by 10 or more. However, a slightly faster variant is to use degree of success but not degree of failure, with a critical fumble then only occurring on a natural 1. This was the most popular approach in playtesting and saves you from thinking about margins for a miss.

Melee

A critical fumble on a melee attack (or melee spell attack), provokes an opportunity attack from (just) the target. You can avoid the opportunity attack if you have another attack that turn and choose to use it to rescue the fumble instead, preventing the opportunity attack from being triggered.

Ranged

A critical fumble on a ranged attack (or ranged spell attack), results in a misfire. The attack is then rerolled against a random ally within range, including yourself. You can avoid the misfire if you have another attack that turn and choose to use it to rescue the fumble instead, preventing the misfire.

VARIANCE | COMBAT SUCCESS

Defense Dice

This optional rule allows attack success to be affected by the skill and actions of the defender as well as the attacker. By bringing defensive ability into the attack roll, it doesn't need to be reflected in hit points, which can become more specifically health and toughness ("Damage and Healing", page 9). Defense dice are an intuitive way to represent that defensive skill, allowing a player to roll to influence their chance of being hit. The number and size of defense dice increase with level and class abilities, and their use and availability depends on actions in combat.

Defense dice are intended for player characters and nonplayer characters who have levels, as opposed to monsters who don't. Monsters simply follow the standard combat rules, avoiding any need for conversion of stat blocks. Which works well - a gelatinous cube really is more about absorbing hp than parrying blows with its pseudopodia.

At 1st level, defense dice are d4s. At 8th level, they become d6s. And a -2 correction factor to players' AC maintains balance with monsters and the core rules.

So a level 9 fighter, with a Dexterity of 14 (ability modifier of +2), and wearing half plate armor (base AC 15), has an AC of 15 +2 -2 = 15 and uses defense dice that are d6s.

Gaining Defense Dice

  • When combat begins, you gain a number of defense dice equal to the number of melee attacks you can make with the Attack action.
  • During your turn, if you take the Attack action to make a melee attack, you gain the same number of defense dice as you have attacks. You also gain these dice when you take the Disengage or Help main actions or when you take the Ready action to ready any of these or to move. For the Dodge action, see later.

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  • You don't gain defense dice from taking the Attack action for a ranged attack, or from taking the Dash, Hide, Search, Spell or Use an Object actions. Similarly, you don't gain defense dice if you Ready those actions.
  • A defense die is expended when you use it but otherwise lasts until the start of your next turn.

So the level 9 fighter above, who would have gained the Extra Attack feature at 5th level, can attack twice when they take the Attack action and so would also gain 2 defense dice, each a d6, to use before the start of their next turn.

You may want to record this on your character sheet alongside your AC and use dedicated d4s or d6s as a visual reminder.

Using Defense Dice

When attacked with a melee attack, you may spend a defence die to add its roll to your AC, so long as you are holding a weapon (or shield) in which you are proficient, or are unarmed and have Unarmed Strikes. For a grittier setting, this defense die must be spent before you see the attack roll. You may spend another defense die to reroll (keep the highest roll).

Ranged attacks. You may only use a defense die against a ranged attack (including ranged spell attacks) if you have a shield, special ability, or have taken the Dodge action.

Impaired defense. You may not use a defense die if you were surprised by your attacker that turn, or if you are prevented from actively defending, e.g. restrained or incapacitated (paralyzed, petrified, stunned, unconscious).

Defending an ally. If you have more than 1 defense die, or have a shield, you may use one of your defense dice for an ally, so long as the ally or their attacker is within 5 ft of you.

Extra defense dice. You may use a Bardic Inspiration die, or a Heroic Effort Hit Die (page 11), as a defense die.

Dodge (Defense Dice Variant)

When you take the Dodge action, you focus entirely on avoiding attack, gaining double your usual number of defense dice, which you may also use against ranged attacks, and you make Dexterity Saving Throws with advantage. (In this variant, Dodge does not impose disadvantage on attack rolls made against you.)

Bonus Actions: Fend & Disengage

You gain a defense die when you take the Fend bonus action (page 14) or Disengage as a bonus action (e.g. with Cunning Action).

Combat Stance

You may forgo any number of melee attacks from your Attack action (and/or bonus action if your bonus action grants you a melee attack) to gain an additional defense die for each. Conversely, you may spend a defense die to add to one of your melee damage rolls, or spend two defense dice to add a die to one of your melee attack rolls.

Evasive Fighting Style

A new fighting style. You may use defense dice against ranged attacks and may use your reaction to reroll one of your defense dice.

VARIANCE | DEFENSE DICE

Strength and Damage

Although your Strength modifier is commonly used for attack and damage rolls, Dexterity (ranged weapons or weapons with the finesse property) and Charisma (Hexblade Warlock's Hex Warrior ability) are also used.

With degree of success, an attack modifier also translates into increased damage by increasing the success margin to score more strong and critical hits. Since this captures the impact of ability (Strength, Dexterity or Charisma), the damage roll bonus can more specifically be power. You can reflect this by always using Strength for the damage roll bonus. This includes ranged attacks, where draw strength (or throwing strength) is important, except spells and firearms.

If using this option, it should be balanced by allowing Dexterity to be used for any weapon's attack bonus (not just finesse or ranged weapons).

Describing Combat

Degree of success and defense dice can add depth to an attack roll, telling you a bit more about the quality of an attack or how you evaded it. It lends itself to a more descriptive outcome and can provide handy prompts that flesh out more of the flavor of the fight.

Maybe the goblin tripped as he critically fumbled (natural 1) his short sword attack. Or the bandit's wild swing (6) was never going to hit. Perhaps the wolf snapped at your arm but got a mouth full of chain mail (missed with a 12). Or your splint armour spared you the full effects of the bugbear's morningstar attack (regular hit with a 16). You might land a clean axe-blow past the hobglobin's shield (strong hit with a 23) or spear the bulette through a chink in its armor (natural 20). Or you might parry (defense dice roll of 4) the pirate's cutlass at the last minute, after it had otherwise slipped past your guard!

If you want some prompts for describing the outcome of an attack, the table below gives some suggestions of what the roll (after modifiers) could imply about the attack:

Roll Description
Critical fumble An error: slip, stumble, wild miss etc
Less than 8 A poor strike: clumsy, off-target etc
8 or more but miss Strike deflected by armor (or was blocked / evaded, if AC mainly dexterity)
Marginal Glancing blow
Regular Hit Damage partially absorbed by armor (or partially blocked / evaded, if AC mainly dexterity)
Strong Hit A good strike: got through defenses
Critical Hit A perfect strike: found weak spot
Defense Dice Skillful dodge or parry: avoiding (or partially avoiding) a hit

Previous Combat Options

Previous editions of the Tome used a different core defense option. Now that this has been replaced by defense dice, the original defense variant has moved to the Archive (page 36), along with a number of other options related to it.

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VARIANCE | DESCRIBING COMBAT
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Damage and Healing

The variant options throughout this tome can support a stricter interpretation of hit points (hp) as a precious and exhaustible resource of health and resilience. This can create a more tangible sense of peril and also allows meaningful trade-offs between short term gains from overexertion and longer term implications from depleting a resource that recovers slowly.

Hit Points

Direct scaling of hp with level results in a steep rise from a very low start at level 1. Although a sense of peril is important, a single unlucky injury can be fatal at this level. For variant rules where hp is more specifically health and toughness, this rapid scaling is harder to explain, as is rapid recovery after injury. In the options here, hp start higher so that the increase with level is less exponential (roughly doubling only with each tier of play). This change in scaling, along with grittier healing and the increased damage from "Degree of Success", can rebalance peril through the tiers of play. It also balances the effects of defense options where you may take less hits or damage at higher levels.

These optional changes apply only to PCs (and NPCs that have levels). There is no need to make changes to monster hp. At low levels the PCs will have higher base hp than their opponents but the opponents will be coming into the fight uninjured - unlike the PCs.

Constitution In Starting HP

To give characters more baseline fortitude, calculate level 1 hp by taking the maximum of the class Hit Die as usual, but then add your Constitution score (the ability score itself) rather than the Constitution modifier. Essentially this is your Constitution contributing your baseline health and your class contributing the benefits of training.

Gritty Progression

The better progression option for a more tangible sense of peril and especially suited to games using defense options. You gain a Hit Die (and add the usual Constitution modifier) only every odd level (so level 3, 5, 7, etc). To convert hp for a character created with the standard rules, simply half and then add the Constitution score. This can also be applied to NPCs that have levels (same conversion) but monster hp is best left unadjusted.

Heroic Progression

An alternative option for a game with more epic characters that can shrug off more injuries, especially at higher levels. You gain a Hit Die (and add the usual Constitution modifier) every level as usual. To convert hp for a character created with the standard rules, simply add Constitution score.

Implications for Other Uses of HP

HP totals are used for all-or-nothing effects such as Sleep or the Power Word spells. You may wish to adapt these by adding the caster's spellcasting ability score to the hp total.

Rest and Recovery

The "Slow Healing" and "Gritty Realism" options for slower hp recovery (Dungeon Master's Guide) work well to reflect physical injury but a more specific Natural Recovery variant is described here.

Natural Recovery

Short Rest

Although very little actual healing happens in just 1 hour, important stabilization is possible: stopping blood loss, replacing fluids, cleaning / covering / stitching wounds, strapping joints, splinting bones, etc. A single Hit Die (plus Constitution modifier) may be spent when you finish a short rest if there has been hp loss since the last short rest. You can only have up to 3 short rests per day.

A successful Medicine check (DC 15) allows the maximum value of the Hit Die to be used.

Long Rest

More healing can occur with a long rest but a number of days may be required to heal fully. You can only have 1 long rest per day. A single Hit Die (plus Constitution modifier) may be spent when you finish a long rest and a single Hit Die is regained before or after this. At 5th level, 2 Hit Dice may be spent and regained, with 3 Hit Dice at 11th level and 4 Hit Dice at 17th level (see table below).

A level of exhaustion is also recovered, so long as you've had some food and drink. If other effects or abilities restore exhaustion, then all effects together can only restore one further level between long rests.

If you've gained a level during a day, the benefits of your new level begin after you next finish a long rest.

A successful Medicine check (DC 15) allows the maximum value of the Hit Dice to be used and an injury to be healed.

Level Hit Dice per Long Rest
1-4 1
5-10 2
11-16 3
17 or more 4
VARIANCE | DAMAGE AND HEALING

Negative Hit Points

With this variant, damage can take you below 0 hp and this determines your death saving throw DC. This is a dangerous situation to be in and takes its toll. If you do recover, you initially only recover to 0 hp, where you are unconscious but stable.

Dropping Below 0 HP

When you drop below 0 hp, you take a level of exhaustion.

While You Have Less Than 0 HP:

  • During your turn, you can't take any actions but you can spend a Hit Die (or take a level of exhaustion to spend a Hit Die if no Hit Dice left) to heal that roll (plus Constitution modifier).
  • Another creature can attempt to stabilize you by performing a Medicine check (DC 10 plus the number of hp below 0), to bring your hp back to 0.
  • You don't heal past 0 hp in a single turn. Healing that would take you above 0 hp, instead heals you to 0 hp.
  • At the end of your turn, you must succeed on a death saving throw (Constitution saving throw with a DC of 5 plus the number of hp below 0) or take another level of exhaustion. If using "Degree of Success", see optional table below. Reaching level 6 exhaustion results in death (Player's Handbook).

At 0 HP (Unconscious but Stable):

  • You recover consciousness when you heal to 1 hp or more.
  • After you finish a short or long rest, you naturally recover consciousness and 1 hp (plus any hp from spending a Hit Die).
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Death Saving Throw - Degree of Success
Roll Effect
Critical Failure (10-) Take 1 level of exhaustion. Then make an additional death saving throw this turn
Heavy Failure (5-) Take 1 level of exhaustion. Death saving throw next turn is with disadvantage
Failure (1-) Take 1 level of exhaustion
Marginal (0) Death saving throw next turn is with disadvantage
Success (1+) No effects
Strong Success (5+) Death saving throw next turn is with advantage
Critical Success (10+) Stabilized (hp recover to 0)

Gritty Injury Variants

For a more gritty campaign, you may chose a grittier variant with additional effects from dropping below 0 hp:

  • Hit point maximum permanently reduced by 1
  • Lingering Injury: make a roll on the Lingering Injuries table (Dungeon Master's Guide)
  • Any healing is reduced by half when at 0 or negative hp
  • and/or Stunned for a round when recover consciousness.

Knocking a Creature Out

You can avoid taking a creature below 0 hp in melee by intentionally pulling your blow. You must decide to do this before you roll damage. This halves the damage but if that takes them below 0 hp, reduce their hp to 0 instead.

VARIANCE | DAMAGE AND HEALING

Overexertion

The following overexertion options allow alternative uses of Hit Dice or exhaustion in desperate circumstances, as a more visceral alternative to the Hero Points option (Dungeon Masters Guide).

Heroic Effort

You may spend one Hit Die (or level of exhaustion if no Hit Dice left) to:

  • Add to any roll: ability checks (including initiative), saves (including death saving throws), attack rolls, damage rolls.
  • Add to the DC for a spell you are casting.
  • Add to your AC until the start of your next turn.
  • Gain temporary points for a duration of 1 minute (hit points, sorcery points, ki points, etc).
  • Recover a temporary spell slot up to your proficiency bonus (or spell points if using the variant from the Dungeon Master's Guide) for a duration of 1 minute.
  • Or in place of spending a special die (e.g. superiority die, Bardic Inspiration die, Psionic Energy die, defense die).

You must then finish a short or long rest before you can do this again.

Heroic Exertion

You may spend a level of exhaustion to reroll any roll you make, any attack against you, or any damage rolls from a single attack (by you or against you). You must then finish a short or long rest before you can do this again.

Variant Exhaustion

Ordinarily, the six levels of exhaustion each introduce a distinct effect (disadvantage on ability checks; speed halved; disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws; hit point maximum halved; speed reduced to 0; death).

In this variant to exhaustion (derived from a post by Horwath), those effects instead all gradually accumulate over the six levels. So you gain a cumulative -1 penalty on all ability checks, attack rolls, saving throws and spell success rolls (page 12); a cumulative -1 to AC and to your spellcasting DC; a cumulative -1 to your damage rolls; and a cumulative -5 to speed (to a minimum of 5 ft). Essentially a -1 penalty to all rolls, plus the reduction in speed, per level of exhaustion. 6th level remains death.

With the overexertion options above, you may well accumulate exhaustion during combat. The gradual accumulation of effects with variant exhaustion limits the immediate impact of these. For a heroic setting, you may wish to limit this further by having new exhaustion levels only come into effect at the end of combat, as the players push through with a heroic last stand. This can even be extended to death (i.e. irreversibly dying, rather than dead), allowing you to role-play a fitting end outside the heat of battle.

Exhaustion Effects
Level Cumulative Effect
1 -1 to ability checks, attack rolls, saving throws, AC, DCs, & damage rolls; speed reduced by 5 ft
2 -2 to ability checks, attack rolls, saving throws, AC, DCs, & damage rolls; speed reduced by up to 10 ft
3 -3 to ability checks, attack rolls, saving throws, AC, DCs, & damage rolls; speed reduced by up to 15 ft
4 -4 to ability checks, attack rolls, saving throws, AC, DCs, & damage rolls; speed reduced by up to 20 ft
5 -5 to ability checks, attack rolls, saving throws, AC, DCs, & damage rolls; speed reduced by up to 25 ft
6 Death
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Spellcasting

In fifth edition D&D, magic is reliable and spells are always successfully cast if a suitable spell slot is available. There may then be an attack roll or saving throw but the casting itself is certain. However, your setting or campaign may want to explore a more fickle magic from a less dependable Weave.

Spell Success Roll

With this optional rule, you make a spell success roll when attempting to cast a spell. You can apply this to all spells, or choose to limit it to those where there is not already an attack roll or saving throw.

The DC for a spell is 10 plus the spell level, and your casting bonus is the same as your spell attack bonus.

So Fireball (a 3rd level spell) has a DC of 10 +3 = 13. While a level 5 wizard (proficiency bonus +3, with an Intelligence of 16 (ability modifier of +3), has a casting bonus of 3 +3 = 6. So if the wizard rolls 7 or more on a d20 (70% chance), they successfully cast the fireball (roll of 7, plus casting bonus of 6, equals 13).

The DC for an upcast spell uses the spell level it was cast at. If you choose to use spell success rolls for cantrips as well, then count these as 0 level spells.

A failed spell doesn’t use up a spell slot.

Casting Advantage & Disadvantage

Another spellcaster who is able to cast the same spell may use the Help action to aid you in casting the spell, allowing you to roll the spell success roll with advantage. Conversely, conditions that cause you to make all ability checks with disadvantage (for example, the frightened or poisoned conditions) also impose disadvantage on spell success rolls. If you are casting with disadvantage, it may be safer to stick to lower level spells.

Rescuing a Poor Casting

Unless you roll a 1, you can spend any number of Hit Dice to increase the roll (Hit Dice always count as d6s, even if you have larger Hit Dice available), or you can take a level of exhaustion to reroll.

Spell-like Abilities and Monsters

Some PCs have spells or spell-like abilities that don't use spell slots and often represent an innate ability. This is also the norm for monsters. These spells or effects are generally limited in choice and in number of uses. These should be considered as being more innately reliable, with no need for a spell success roll.

More Challenging Magic

If your campaign setting has rarer, less reliable magic, you can increase the base DC from 10, or use a DC of 10 plus two times the spell level. You may even consider a failed spell using up a spell slot but this can be frustrating for players. It is important to balance this by valuing the unique utility spellcasters contribute by accessing such rare magic.

Some campaigns link magic to life energy. That is a very specific application and is outside the scope of this Tome but can be adapted using a higher DC and more reliance on the use of Hit Dice (your own, or perhaps those of others) or other energy sources.

Magic Items for Spellcasting

Magic items that give a bonus to your spell success roll may be found at a similar rarity to those that give a bonus to your spell attack roll or your saving throw DC.

Disrupting a Spell

If another creature can detect that you are in the process of casting a spell (for example, can see the somatic component or hear the verbal component), the act of casting can be used to trigger a reaction before the spell completes (for example, if the creature has Readied an Attack or movement).

If you take damage while casting a spell with a casting time of 1 or more rounds, it could disrupt your concentration and cause the spell to fail. You must make the usual Constitution saving throw (DC 10 or half the damage you take, whichever number is higher) to allow the spell to proceed.

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Degree of Success: Spells

Degree of success can also be applied to the spell success roll option but is best kept simple. It provides some descriptive flavor but also some balance for spellcasters failing their spells, as there is a good chance of a critical success. Since only criticals have a concrete effect, you may choose to simplify this by using just a natural 1 or 20 instead.

The table here separates spells into those with targets and those without, so as to divide critical failures into misfires and surges. For a successful spell, the higher the roll, the closer it looks to how it should do and players may enjoy describing how a spell differs from its intent.

A grittier version of this table, for campaign settings with more challenging magic, is in the Archive (page 37)

Wild Magic Variant

Instead of using misfires and surges, you may wish to use the Wild Magic Surge table from the Wild Magic sorcerous origin (Player's Handbook). However this does make that archetype less distinctive.

Concentration

Finally, degree of success also fits well with Constitution saving throws when trying to maintain concentration on a spell (either an active spell or, if using the "Disrupting a Spell" option, one being cast). Simply use the Other Spells column in the spell success table here.

Roll Spells with a Target Other Spells
Critical Failure (10-) Critical Misfire: switch target to you, or from you to a random target. You can’t cast that spell again until you finish a short or long rest Critical Surge: you, and others within 30 ft, take 1d4 force damage for each level of the spell. You can’t cast that spell again until you finish a short or long rest
Heavy Failure (5-) Noticeable failure - starts then fizzles Noticeable failure - starts then fizzles
Failure (1-) Fails Fails
Marginal (0) Very odd appearance but succeeds Very odd appearance. but succeeds
Success (1+) Acceptable appearance Acceptable appearance
Strong Success (5+) Appears exactly as described Appears exactly as described
Critical Success (10+) Perfect. You may cause any one roll within the spell to be rerolled, replacing the original roll Perfect. You may cause any one roll within the spell to be rerolled, replacing the original roll
VARIANCE | SPELLCASTING

Part 2

Additional Options
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Tactical Combat

As with the core options in Part 1, the additional options here in Part 2 may be used individually or together. These additional options have a narrower focus, with less effect on core mechanics, so are easily swapped in or out. This first section focuses on combat and tactics, with options that can add a layer of situational depth to combat.

Side Initiative Variant

With this variant on "Side Initiative" (Dungeon Master's Guide), group initiative is led by a single creature on each side. The DM chooses which player (and which opponent) would have to react. This will usually be the ones who are closest or who already interacting (e.g. the lead player as the party enter the throne room, or the player who had been negotiating with the bandits when things got nasty). If there are several equally involved players, then let the players choose amongst themselves.

So long as they're not surprised, that player may first use their reaction to say or do something quick that might interrupt initiative (e.g. shouting "Stop, we're on your side!"). Unless initiative is successfully interrupted, they then proceed to roll for side initiative against the equivalent opponent (using their personal initiative modifiers). When the players' side has its turn, the players choose what order they'll go in (and decide any tactics, with no further discussion between different players' turns), although the player who rolled initiative must go first that round. The DM chooses which order monsters go in when it's their side's turn.

Leaving Yourself Open

In a fight, a creature’s actions can create an opening for an opportunity attack. With this variant, some additional situations provoke attacks from opponents in melee range:

  • Moving out of your opponent’s range
  • Standing from prone
  • Picking up an item from the ground (e.g. recovering a weapon after being disarmed)

You don’t provoke an opportunity attack when you teleport or when someone or something moves you without using your movement, action, or reaction.

You can avoid provoking an opportunity attack by taking the Disengage or Fend actions (see below). The opportunity attack provoked by casting a spell triggers after the spell is complete, unless it has a casting time of more than 1 round, or the creature Readied an Attack for the act of casting itself.

If you're not using the defense dice option, you may wish to to extend Leaving Yourself Open to actions that limit a creature's ability to defend themselves (Archive, page 37).

Disengage

This option expands on the Disengage action (Player's Handbook). As with the standard Disengage action, your movement doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks for the rest of the turn. In addition:

  • If you take the Disengage action and can normally make more than one attack with the Attack action, you may choose to make one of those attacks as your bonus action.

Fend

Fend is a bonus action available with a shield or with some feats. When you take the Fend bonus action, you don’t provoke opportunity attacks for the rest of the turn.

Melee Reach and Space

Closing Range

This optional rule applies when you move within reach of an opponent whose melee weapon has a longer reach. Similar to the Polearm Master feat, this provokes an opportunity attack. To determine reach, weapons with the reach property have the longest reach, followed by those that are two-handed (or versatile), followed by all other weapons, except those with

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the light property (or unarmed attacks) which have the shortest reach.

There are number of circumstances where closing range doesn’t provoke an opportunity attack (unless of course the defender has a polearm and the Polearm Master feat):

  • If the opponent is surprised
  • If the attacker is hidden from the opponent
  • If the opponent is already engaged in combat with another attacker
  • If the attacker is wielding a shield
  • Or if the attacker teleports (or equivalent) directly within reach

Note that if the attacker does close, the opponent may retreat on their turn to re-establish their range. However, unless they take the Disengage (or Fend) action, that retreat may itself provoke an opportunity attack.

When an attacker successfully closes range, opponents with longer reach weapons may also find their weapons less effective if then affected by "Restricted Space" or if held in "Grappling Range" (see following).

Restricted Space

In a restricted space where 5 ft range can’t be maintained (such as a tight dungeon corridor, thick forest, or the crush of a large melee), attackers with more than 5 ft reach (for example, wielding weapons with the reach property) have disadvantage on attack rolls, unless used in a close reach mode (such as the butt of the weapon: usually 1d2 damage unless specially designed 1d4).

This is when the attacker with the short reach weapon can turn the tables on their longer reach opponent: intentionally pinning their target into a corner, or against another attacker, to level the playing field. A greatsword isn’t as effective when you can only punch out with the butt of it.

Grappling Range

In extreme restricted space (or during a grapple), weapons with more than 5 ft reach can’t be used at all to attack, unless used in a close reach mode. Even in close reach mode, they

have disadvantage on attack rolls and it may be wiser to drop the weapon and fight unarmed or with a knife. Even mid-range weapons (any weapon without the light property) have disadvantage on attack rolls unless using the pommel etc (usually 1d2 damage unless specially designed 1d4). This is when the dagger finds its true calling and creates space for the close combat / grappling specialist. Note the Grappler feat gives advantage on attacks while grappling, which may be particularly relevant for rogues.

If the attacker wants to get within grappling range and stay there, play this as an attempted grapple (Player's Handbook), using one of the attacker's attacks. If not already within reach, the attacker would need to close range first, provoking an opportunity attack. If the opportunity attack lands, then the grapple check is with disadvantage.

Ranged Attack Into Melee

This is a common situation (both for ranged weapons and for spell attacks) but of course hitting the right target is more difficult and comes with some risk. The following option formalizes the use of cover with a simple guide for how much cover to apply.

Cover

Apply cover when your target is in melee. If your opponents are larger in size or in number than your allies, apply half cover (+2 to target’s AC). Otherwise apply three-quarters cover (+5 to target’s AC).

Friendly Fire

This additional option is an alternative to the "Hitting Cover" option (Dungeon Master's Guide). If a creature misses with a ranged attack into melee (including a ranged spell attack), reroll as an attack on one of their allies (you can select the most appropriate ally if obvious, or select at random). You may wish to limit this to misses that would have hit if not for the cover modifier, as with the Hitting Cover option. If you are using the "Degree of Success" option for combat, this friendly fire occurs instead on a critical fumble with a ranged attack.

VARIANCE | TACTICAL COMBAT

Called-Shot

This is a general flexible option for when an attacker wants to target a specific part of their opponent’s body, or wants to have a specific effect such as a trip, or to lock blades, grab with the off-hand, pin a weapon, disarm, or anything else. The attacker must declare their intention before making the attack roll. Simply apply a -1 to -10 modifier on the attack roll, depending on the difficulty (see Called Shot Difficulty table, where assumed chance is the typical chance for matched opponents).

A called shot can’t be attempted if it takes the roll needed to hit above 20, nor can limited-use attack bonuses or automatic hits be used for these actions.


The default modifier can be considered -5 (note that this parallels degree of success) but when you want to vary from that, you can use this guide:
Called Shot Difficulty
Modifier Difficulty Assumed Chance
-2 Relatively simple about a 50% chance
-4 Doable with a good hit about a 40% chance
-6 Requires some luck about a 30% chance
-8 Unlikely about a 20% chance
-10 Possible but improbable about a 10% chance

Magic Options

This section includes additional options for spells, with personalization, increased spell slot flexibility, and an option to handle teleporting into melee. Each option can be used with any (or none) of the others, including "Spell Success Rolls", "Disrupting a Spell", "Degree of Success" and "Overexertion".

Developing Spells

Players can have their own versions of spells that are mechanically identical but add flavor, and interest, by having a personalized appearance. Tasha's Cauldron of Everything formalizes this with excellent guidance on how to personalize a character's spells to fit a theme that is meaningful for them. If you are using the degree of success and spell success roll options from this tome, the success margin also determines if the spell ends up looking the way it was intended.

This may inspire players to want to develop spells that are also mechanically different. This is a bigger undertaking,

requiring a consideration of game balance, and in-game resources (time and cost). Balance is easier with variant spells than new ones and there is guidance under "Creating a Spell" in the Dungeon Master's Guide. One simple way to create variant spells is to add a metamagic-like enhancement to an existing spell, increasing its spell level by one. There are also many homebrew collections that may provide inspiration, although balance can be variable, depending on the source.

The option described below provides the in-game mechanics for developing that new spell, using a three stage process: research, development, and testing. Each stage has a requirement in terms of time and cost that will need repeated if that stage is unsuccessful.

Level. The maximum level of spell a PC can develop should be one level below their own spell level in that class.

Time. It takes significant downtime to develop a new spell: 1 week per level, for each of the three stages.

Cost. Developing a new spell is also expensive. 100 gp per level per week is reasonable.

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Stage 1 - Research. This stage reflects the study required to develop the theory underlying the spell. To successfully complete the research stage, you must succeed in an Arcana skill check (using your spellcasting ability) with a DC of 15 plus twice the spell level.

Stage 2 - Development. This stage represents the practical development of the spell from the research theory. It requires a successful Investigation skill check (using your spellcastingability) with a DC of 15 plus twice the spell level.

Stage 3 - Testing. This last stage reflects mastery of the spell to the point where it can be finalized and reliably cast. If using the spell success roll option, the character must succeed in a spell success roll with an additional penalty on the DC equal to the spell's level (so the DC is now 10 plus three times the spell level). If not using the spell success roll option, you may substitute a successful Performance skill check (using your spellcasting ability), with a DC of 15 plus twice the spell level.

You may want to use the degree of success option for these sequential checks (page 4). Any critical failure means the spell can’t be attempted again, heavy failure that you must restart from Stage 1. The Stage 3 result would apply to the first time you then cast the spell.

Improvising Spells

A related option for innate casters such as sorcerers is improvising a spell that they don't know, as suggested by Atsur. For this, a new metamagic option may be taken:

Spontaneous Spell

You can spend 3 sorcery points to try to cast a spell that you don't know. The spell must be from the sorcerer spell list and 5th level or lower. Expend a spell slot of that level or higher and when the casting duration is complete, make a

spellcasting check (DC of 10 plus the spell’s level; adding your spell attack bonus to the roll). If you succeed, you cast the spell as normal (you may not combine this with another metamagic option). If you fail, the spell is not cast and you roll on the Wild Magic Surge table.

Spell Slot Flexibility

A simple option to increase spell slot flexibility at a cost is to allow a higher slot to be used for a lower level spell as usual, but to also allow two lower level slots to be sacrificed to recover a spent slot from the next level. So a player with two remaining level 3 slots and one remaining level 4 slot, could use the level 3 slots to recover an expended level 4 slot, and use the two level 4 slots they now have to recover an expended level 5 slot.

Teleporting Into Melee

Teleporting into combat may cause Surprise when rolling initiative, and may give advantage on the attack roll if the teleporting creature was hidden. The effect during ongoing combat, or when the creature wasn't hidden, is less defined.

With this option, when you teleport to bring a creature within reach of your melee weapon and immediately attack, you gain advantage on that first attack roll. If you repeat this against the same creature, you only gain advantage if you're hidden and able to see your target before teleporting.

Re-Charging Magic Items

With this variant, magical items that hold a number of charges do not simply reset at dawn. Instead they require re-charging at a suitable location (generally by an appropriate level arcane tradesperson during downtime in a large town). The usual cost of each charge is equal to 1/10 of the total value of the item.

VARIANCE | MAGIC OPTIONS

Equipment

Shields

These options add to those of the core rules and the Shield Master feat. Full size shields of different shapes and sizes continue to be treated the same, as the trade-off between cover and maneuverability can be considered to balance benefit from active versus passive defense. However, very small shields are a little different and are treated separately below.

Cover

Perhaps the most historically relevant role of shields. When taking the Dodge action outside of melee (i.e. not within reach of an opponent), a shield can be used as three-quarters cover (AC +5) instead of its usual +2 (from shield or from half cover).

Closing Range

If using the "Closing Range" option, a shield provides cover for the wielder when closing on an opponent with a longer reach weapon, so it doesn't provoke an opportunity attack.

Fend

While wielding a shield, you may Fend as a bonus action. When you take the Fend bonus action, you don’t provoke opportunity attacks for the rest of the turn. You also gain a defense die (if you're playing with the "Defense Dice" option).

Bucklers and Vambraces

Bucklers (very small shields) and vambraces (a form of forearm armor) can give a +1 bonus to AC when used in a free hand, so long as you have proficiency in shields. They don’t give the other benefits listed above but a buckler can be donned or doffed as an object interaction (doesn't use an

action if it is the only object interacted with that turn) and vambraces allow the free hand(s) to perform other actions (e.g. sleight of hand or somatic components of a spell).

Shield Cost Armor Class (AC) Weight
Shield 10 gp +2 6 lb
Buckler 10 gp +1 2 lb
Vambraces (pair) 15 gp +1 3 lb

Quality and Repair

Many campaign settings have a region with more (or less) advanced metalcraft, or with superior or exotic materials, and nobody’s weapons or armor work quite as well once they have picked up some major dents from a 40ft fall or a bruising battle with a stone golem.

A simple way to bring this into your game is to give an item a +1 if it is expertly made, or a -1 if it is poorly or primitively made, or damaged. If bought or sold, the cost of the item also changes (a minimum of double, or half price, respectively).

Superior or exotic materials may affect other properties: weight (and hence strength requirement for armor), bulk/sound (removing stealth disadvantage), resilience (increased integrity die size, e.g. d12, see below), or material (e.g. non-metal). Each increases cost by a minimum of double.

  • Damaged or poor quality weapon: -1 to attack bonus and damage
  • Damaged or poor quality armor: -1 to AC
  • Expertly made weapon: +1 to attack bonus and/or damage
  • Expertly made armor: +1 to AC
  • Superior or exotic materials: altered properties

A +1 from quality is not magical for purposes of resistance or immunity to nonmagical weapons. The maximum total bonus from quality and any magical bonus remains +3.

An item that is -1 due to damage can be repaired for half its new cost. PCs with the relevant artisan’s tools and proficiency (smith’s tools for metal, leatherworker's for leather, woodcarver's for wood) may also make their own repairs with a successful DC 15 ability check. This requires 1 hour.

Acquiring Damage

Optional sources of damage are described below.

Situational. This can be thematic as part of the campaign narrative, such as the example of the 40ft fall.

Critical fumble. There can be a chance of weapon damage on a critical fumble. You can choose the frequency of this to match the mood of the campaign. For most campaigns, use a d6 integrity die after a critical fumble, with damage occurring when you roll a 1 on the integrity die. However, a heroic campaign could use a d20 integrity die and a gritty campaign could use a d4. A superior weapon (see above) might use a larger integrity die (e.g. a d12 instead of a d6).

Extreme damage. There can be a chance of armor damage when a creature takes slashing, piercing or bludgeoning damage equal to their AC or more, in a single go. Again, an

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integrity die roll would be used (for example, damage occurs when rolling a 1 on a d6 integrity die). Superior armor may use a larger integrity die (e.g. a d12). A creature wielding a shield can choose whether damage occurs to their shield or to their armor.

Deliberate. If using the "Called Shot" option, allow an attacker to target (-10 penalty) the weapon, armor, or shield. Or -5 penalty and allow an integrity die roll.

Additional Weapon Properties

With this option, weapons are given one of three new properties to allow a little more differentiation between otherwise similar items. Those three properties are:

Reliable. A weapon that is designed for dependability in dealing damage. If you roll a 1 or 2 on a damage die, you may reroll the die. Weapons with the two-handed or versatile property generally have the penetrating property instead.

Defensive. A weapon that is designed to parry or guard. Add +1 to AC while wielding this weapon, unless you took the Attack action with a different weapon during your turn.

Penetrating. A weapon that is designed to get through defenses or armor. Add +1 to your attack bonus.

For simplicity, all monsters’ attacks can be treated as having the penetrating property.






























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Weapons (Part 1)
Weapon Cost Damage Weight Properties
Simple Melee Weapons
Club 1 sp 1d4 bludgeoning 2 lb. Light, reliable
Dagger / Dirk 2 gp 1d4 piercing 1 lb. Finesse, light, thrown (range 20/60), penetrating
Greatclub 2 sp 1d8 bludgeoning 10 lb. Two-handed, reliable
Handaxe 5 gp 1d6 slashing 2 lb. Light, thrown (range 20/60), penetrating
Javelin 5 sp 1d6 piercing 2 lb. Thrown (range 30/120), penetrating
Light Hammer 2 gp 1d4 bludgeoning 2 lb. Light, thrown (range 20/60), penetrating
Mace / Flail 5 gp 1d6 bludgeoning 4 lb. Reliable
Quarterstaff 2 sp 1d6 bludgeoning 4 lb. Versatile (1d8), defensive when two-handed
Sickle 1 gp 1d4 slashing 2 lb. Light, reliable
Spear 1 gp 1d6 piercing 3 lb. Thrown (range 20/60), versatile (1d8), reach
Simple Ranged Weapons
Crossbow, light 25 gp 1d8 piercing 5 lb. Ammunition (range 80/320), loading, two-handed, penetrating
Dart 5 cp 1d4 piercing 1/4 lb. Finesse, thrown (range 20/60), penetrating
Shortbow 25 gp 1d6 piercing 2 lb. Ammunition (range 80/320), two-handed, penetrating
Sling 1 sp 1d4 bludgeoning Ammunition (range 30/120), reliable
VARIANCE | EQUIPMENT
Weapons (Part 2)
Weapon Cost Damage Weight Properties
Martial Melee Weapons
Battleaxe 10 gp 1d8 slashing 4 lb. Versatile (1d10), penetrating
Flail, long 10 gp 1d10 bludgeoning 6 lb. Heavy, two-handed, reliable
Glaive 20 gp 1d10 slashing 6 lb. Heavy, reach, two-handed, defensive
Greataxe 30 gp 1d12 slashing 7 lb. Heavy, two-handed, penetrating
Greatsword1 50 gp 2d6 slashing 6 lb. Heavy, two-handed, defensive
Halberd 20 gp 1d10 slashing 6 lb. Heavy, reach, two-handed, penetrating
Lance 10 gp 1d12 piercing 6 lb. Reach, special, penetrating
Hand-and-a-Half Sword2 30 gp 1d8 slashing 4 lb. Versatile (1d10), defensive
Maul3 10 gp 2d6 bludgeoning 10 lb. Heavy, two-handed, penetrating
Morning Star4 15 gp 1d8 piercing 4 lb. Reliable
Pike 5 gp 1d10 piercing 18 lb. Heavy, reach, two-handed, penetrating
Rapier 25 gp 1d8 piercing 3 lb. Finesse, defensive
Arming Sword5 25 gp 1d8 slashing 3 lb. Finesse, defensive
Sabre6 25 gp 1d8 slashing 3 lb. Finesse, reliable
Panzerstecher 25 gp 1d8 piercing 3 lb. Finesse, penetrating
(Light) Scimitar7 20 gp 1d6 slashing 2 lb. Finesse, light, reliable
Shortsword8 10 gp 1d6 piercing 2 lb. Finesse, light, defensive
Court Sword / Epee 20 gp 1d6 piercing 2 lb. Finesse, light, penetrating
Trident 5 gp 1d6 piercing 4 lb. Thrown (range 20/60), versatile (1d8), reach
War Pick 5 gp 1d8 piercing 2 lb. Penetrating
Greatpick / Igorot 10 gp 2d6 piercing 5 lb. Heavy, two-handed, penetrating
Warhammer 15 gp 1d8 bludgeoning 2 lb. Versatile (1d10), penetrating
Whip 2 gp 1d4 slashing 3 lb. Finesse, reach
Martial Ranged Weapons
Blowgun 10 gp 1d4 piercing 1 lb. Amm.(range 25/100), loading
Crossbow, hand 75 gp 1d6 piercing 3 lb. Amm.(range 30/120), light, loading, penetrating
Crossbow, heavy 50 gp 1d10 piercing 18 lb. Amm.(range 100/400), heavy, loading, two-handed, penetrating
Longbow 50 gp 1d8 piercing 2 lb. Amm.(range 150/600), heavy, two-handed, penetrating
Net 1 gp 3 lb. Special, thrown (range 5/15)

1/Longsword/Medieval Claymore/Zweihänder 2/Bastard Sword/Katana/Spatha 3/Greathammer/Greatmace 4(Spiked Mace)/Ball-and-Chain Flail 5/Broadsword/Jian 6/Cutlass/Falchion/Falx/Kopis 7/Backsword/Dao/Machete/Messer 8/Gladius/Xiphos

VARIANCE | EQUIPMENT

Feats

Feats that relate to combat or spellcasting can be adapted to make additional use of the options described in this handbook. These adapted feats (with changes highlighted in bold), as well as seven new feats, and a slight re-working of two-weapon fighting to include defensive fighting, are described below. There are also some more experimental feats in Appendix A (page 28), as well as an option to reduce the regular ability score increase to just 1 ability point but to allow this in addition to a gaining a feat.

Adapted Feats

Alert

Always on the lookout for danger, you gain the following benefits:

  • You can’t be surprised while you are conscious.
  • You gain a +5 bonus to initiative.
  • Other creatures don’t gain advantage on attack rolls against you as a result of being hidden from you, or teleporting to attack you.

Defensive Duelist

Prerequisite: Dexterity 13 or higher

When you're wielding a finesse weapon with which you're proficient, you gain an additional defense die on your turn.

If you spend a defense die to defend against an melee attack, but are still hit, you can use your reaction to spend a second defense die that is also added to your AC for that attack (rather than replacing the first die's roll), potentially causing the attack to miss you.

Great Weapon Master

You’ve learned to put the weight of a weapon to your advantage, letting its momentum empower your strikes. You gain the following benefits:

  • Any time your attack reduces a creature to 0 hit points, any excess damage from that attack may carry over to another creature within reach which has the same AC or less. If the remaining damage likewise reduces that creature to 0 hit points, repeat this process, carrying over the remaining damage until there are no valid targets, or until the damage carried over fails to reduce a creature to 0 hit points.
  • On your turn, when you score a critical hit with a melee weapon or reduce a creature to 0 hit points with one, you can make one melee weapon attack as a bonus action.
  • Before you make a melee attack with a heavy weapon that you are proficient with, you can choose to take a penalty to the attack roll, up to your proficiency bonus. If that attack hits, you add double that amount to the attack's damage.

Mage Slayer

You have practiced techniques useful in combat against spellcasters, gaining the following benefits:

  • When a creature within 5 feet of you begins casting a spell, you can use your reaction to make a melee weapon attack against that creature, potentially disrupting the spell.
  • If you are not in melee (i.e. no opponents within 5 feet of you) and a creature further than 5 feet from you begins casting a spell, you can use your reaction to make a ranged attack against that creature, potentially disrupting the spell.
  • When you damage a creature that is concentrating on a spell, that creature has disadvantage on the saving throw it makes to maintain its concentration. This includes saving throws against having a spell disrupted.
  • You have advantage on saving throws against spells cast by creatures within 5 feet of you.

Lucky

You have inexplicable luck that seems to kick in at just the right moment.

You have 1 luck point. Whenever you make an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, you may spend 1 luck point to roll an additional d20. You can use this ability after the original roll, but before the outcome is revealed. You choose which of the d20s is used for the attack roll, ability check, or saving throw.

You can also spend one luck point when an attack roll is made against you. Roll a d20, and choose whether the attacker's roll uses their d20 roll or yours.

If multiple creatures use a luck point on the same roll, they cancel out, resulting in no additional dice.

If you roll a natural 1 or 20 on the roll made when you spend a luck point, then you regain the luck point.

Otherwise, you regain the expended luck point when you finish a long rest.

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VARIANCE | FEATS

Sharpshooter

You have mastered ranged weapons and can make shots that others find impossible. You gain the following benefits:

  • Attacking at long range doesn't impose disadvantage on your ranged weapon attack rolls.
  • Your ranged weapon attacks ignore half cover and treat three-quarters cover as half cover.
  • When you use the Ready action to prepare an Attack action for when creatures move in your line of sight and you have multiple attacks, you may trigger each attack separately. Any attack ability that usually applies once per turn may only apply once per round.
  • Before you make an attack with a ranged weapon that you are proficient with, you can choose to take a penalty to the attack roll, up to your proficiency bonus. If that attack hits, you add double that amount to the attack's damage.

Shield Training (Unearthed Arcana)

You’ve trained in the effective use of shields. You gain the following benefits:

  • Increase your Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • You gain proficiency with shields.
  • If you have the Spellcasting or Pact Magic feature, you can use a shield as a spellcasting focus.

Spell Sniper

Prerequisite: The ability to cast at least one spell

You have learned techniques to enhance your attacks with certain kinds of spells, gaining the following benefits:

  • When you cast a spell that requires you to make an attack roll, the spell's range is doubled.
  • Your ranged spell attacks ignore half cover and treat three-quarters cover as half cover.
  • When you use the Ready action to prepare a ranged spell attack for when creatures move in your line of sight, you may also use your bonus action to Ready a second ranged spell attack, so long as it has a casting time of a bonus action and one of the spells is a cantrip.
  • You learn one cantrip that requires an attack roll. Choose the cantrip from the bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard spell list. Your spellcasting ability for this cantrip depends on the spell list you chose from: Charisma for bard, sorcerer, or warlock; Wisdom for cleric or druid; or Intelligence for wizard.

War Caster

You have practiced casting spells in the midst of combat, learning techniques that grant you the following benefits:

  • You have advantage on Constitution saving throws that you make to maintain your concentration on a spell when you take damage. This includes saving throws against having a spell disrupted.
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  • You may Fend as a bonus action when casting a spell that turn.
  • You can perform the somatic components of spells even when you have weapons or a shield in one or both hands.
  • When a hostile creature's movement or actions provoke an opportunity attack from you, you can use your reaction to cast a spell at the creature, rather than making an opportunity attack. The spell must have a casting time of 1 action (or 1 bonus action) and must target only that creature.

Weapon Training "Weapon Master"

You have practiced extensively with a variety of weapons, gaining the following benefits:

  • Increase your Strength or Dexterity score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • You gain proficiency with four weapons of your choice. Each one must be a simple or a martial weapon.

New Feats

Aim Under Pressure

Thanks to extensive practice with making ranged attacks under close pressure, you gain the following benefits:

  • Being within 5 feet of a hostile creature doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged attack or ranged spell attack rolls.
  • You may Fend as a bonus action when making a ranged attack or ranged spell attack that turn.
  • Having the frightened or poisoned conditions doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged attack or ranged spell attack rolls, or on your spell success rolls.
VARIANCE | FEATS

Mental Expertise

Through extensive training, you are an expert in focusing your mind. You gain the following benefits:

  • When you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make an Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma saving throw, you may use your reaction to add your proficiency bonus to your roll for that save. This is in addition to any proficiency in that save type. You must use this reaction before you make the saving throw roll.
  • When you are subjected to any effect aiming to read or alter your mind or senses, including any effect that allows you to make an Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma saving throw, you can make a DC 10 Arcana check (your choice of Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma) to identify the effect and, if successful, a repeat Arcana check (your choice of Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma) to identify the source.
  • When you cast a spell that uses your spellcasting DC, you may use your reaction or bonus action to spend a Hit Die and add that roll to the DC for that save (the Hit Die size is always d6). You must use this ability before the saving throw roll is rolled.

Mental Resilience

Accustomed to pushing through mental adversity, you gain the following benefits:

  • When you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make an Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma saving throw, you may use your reaction to spend a Hit Die and add it to your roll for that save. You may use this reaction after you see the saving throw roll, potentially making a failed saving throw into a success (or changing the degree of success).
  • When you are subject to an ongoing condition as a result of a failed Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma saving throw, you may take a level of exhaustion and end that condition as if you had succeeded in the saving throw.

Physical Resilience

Accustomed to pushing through physical adversity, you gain the following benefits:

  • When you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make a Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution savign throw, you may use your reaction to spend a Hit Die and add it to your roll for that save. You may use this reaction after you see the saving throw roll, potentially making a failed saving throw into a success (or changing the degree of success).
  • When you are subject to an ongoing condition as a result of a failed Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution saving throw, you may take a level of exhaustion and end that condition as if you had succeeded in the saving throw.

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Shield Expertise

Prerequisite: Shield proficiency

Through extensive training, you have developed expertise in the defensive use of a shield. You gain the following benefits when you have a shield donned:

  • When another creature attacks you with a melee, ranged or spell attack, you may use your reaction to gain an additional defense die to add to your AC for that attack (even if you have already added a defense die to your AC).
  • When you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make a Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution saving throw to avoid or reduce an effect when it first occurs, you may use your reaction to interpose or brace against your shield and add your proficiency bonus to your roll for that save. This is in addition to any proficiency in that save type. You must use this reaction before you make the saving throw roll.

Weapon Expertise

Through extensive training, you have developed expertise in a specific weapon. Choose a weapon that you have proficiency with or choose Unarmed Strikes. You may change your choice when you gain a level in a martial class. You gain the following benefits while you are wielding that weapon (or unarmed if unarmed expertise):

  • When you roll to attack with that weapon (or the Unarmed Strike), you can use your reaction to add your proficiency bonus to the attack roll. You must use this ability before you make the attack roll.
  • When you successfully hit with that weapon (or the Unarmed Strike), you can use your reaction to add double your proficiency bonus to the damage.
  • When you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make a Strength or Dexterity saving throw to avoid or reduce an effect when it first occurs, you can use your reaction to add your proficiency bonus to your roll for that save. This is in addition to any proficiency in that save type. You must use this reaction before you make the saving throw roll.

Weapon Mastery

You have developed mastery of a specific weapon. Choose a weapon that you have proficiency with or choose Unarmed Strikes. You may change your choice when you gain a level in a martial class. You gain the following benefits while you are wielding that weapon (or unarmed if unarmed expertise):

  • You gain a +1 to your attack bonus, AC, and damage.
  • You have proficiency in Performance and Intimidation checks with that weapon (or unarmed if unarmed expertise) and may use Strength or Dexterity instead of Charisma for the check.
VARIANCE | FEATS

Wielding Two Weapons

Historically, a small second weapon was often used alongside a full-weighted primary weapon for defense (effectively a similar role to a buckler) or to use when fighting became close-pressed. Paired light weapons were common in some fighting styles / cultures and there is historical record of highly specialized individuals using paired full-weighted one-handed weapons. Below is an optional variant to the standard dual wielding rules, including a more defensive role where the size of the second weapon is of less importance and is instead used to gain 1 or more defense dice.

Two-Weapon Fighting

When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you're holding in one hand, you can use a bonus action to attack with a different light melee weapon that you're holding in the other hand (you don't add your ability modifier to the damage of the bonus attack, unless that modifier is negative). Or you can use a bonus action to gain a defense die, even if you didn't take the Attack action.

If either weapon has the thrown property, you can throw the weapon, instead of making a melee attack with it.

Two-Weapon Fighting Style

You can use two-weapon fighting even when one of the one-handed melee weapons you are wielding isn’t light.

If both weapons are light, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second weapon.

Dual Wielder Feat

You master fighting with two weapons. So long as you are proficient with both of the weapons that you are using, you gain the following benefits:

  • You can use two-weapon fighting, even when the one-handed melee weapons you are wielding aren’t light. If you have the Two-Weapon Fighting Style, you may add your ability modifier to the damage of both weapons.
  • You can draw or stow two one-handed weapons when you would normally be able to draw or stow only one.
  • When you use two-weapon fighting, the attack with your second weapon (or the defense die you may chose to gain instead) no longer requires your bonus action. Your bonus action may be used for something else, or to gain an additional defense die.
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VARIANCE | FEATS

Part 3

Experimental Options
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Appendix A: Further Feat Options

The appendices in this third part of the handbook describe some more experimental options - the Unearthed Arcana of this Tome.

The underlying mechanical detail is a bit more exposed and the language a bit less polished. They have been included for those who like to try something a bit more experimental, with rough edges that may still evolve significantly. They are currently peripheral options, so have been separated out into these experimental appendices.

This first appendix explores feats. Feats, although optional in the core rules, are very commonly used, with a growing list of useful and flavorful feats available from expansions and third party sources. Some new and adapted feats were presented earlier in this Tome (page 22). Four newer, more experimental, ones are presented here, as well new options for gaining and replacing feats.

Ability Score Improvement

At certain levels, your class gives you the Ability Score Improvement feature. With the standard feats option, you can forgo taking that feature to take a feat of your choice instead. However, with an expanding list of interesting feat options, it is very tempting to always choose the feat over the Ability Score Improvement feature, leading to minimal ability score progression over the game. You may instead wish to use a variant of the Ability Score Improvement feature. At each level where your class gives you the Ability Score Improvement feature, you increase just one ability score of your choice by 1 but also take a feat of your choice.

Feat Versatility

As you progress through your levels, your interests, focuses and specializations may shift and evolve. To reflect this, when your class gives you the Ability Score Improvement feature, you may replace a feat you have with another feat of your choice.

Experimental Feats

Warlord / Martial Leadership

Prerequisite: Extra Attack class feature (or Thirsting Blade invocation)

A veteran of martial combat, your leadership skills can provide support and inspiration to those around you. To do so, you use a bonus action on your turn to choose one creature other than yourself within 60 feet of that you can communicate with. That creature gains an additional Martial Inspiration die, a d6.

Once within the next 10 minutes, the creature can use the die as an extra d6 Heroic Effort roll, without expending a Hit Die (page 11). Once the Martial Inspiration die is rolled, it is lost. A creature can have only one Martial Inspiration die at a time.

You can use this feature a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus. You regain any expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Vigilant

Prerequisite: Extra Attack class feature (or Thirsting Blade invocation)

Accustomed to the organized chaos of melee combat, you have developed a keen sense of combat awareness and can take advantage of opportunities that others may miss.

Once during a round:

  • You may take an additional reaction.
  • Or you may gain an additional defense die.
  • Or if at the start of your turn you've not been attacked or targeted since your last turn, you may make an additional melee attack (against a creature in reach at that time).

You can use this feature a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus. You regain any expended uses when you finish a short rest.

Versatile Caster Feat

You have an exceptionally breadth of spellcasting knowledge:

  • You know and can prepare 1 extra spell. The spell must be from a level and spell list that you have access to, and must be 5th level or lower. You may change your choice of spell after you finish a long rest.
  • You have advantage on Arcana checks related to spell-casting, including identification of a spell as it's being cast.

Spontaneous Caster (Origin: Atsur)

Once per long rest, you can try to cast a spell that you don’t know. The spell must be from a level and spell list that you have access to, and must be 5th level or lower. Expend a spell slot of that level or higher and when the casting duration is complete, make a spellcasting check (DC of 10 plus the spell’s level; adding your spell attack bonus to the roll).

If you succeed, you cast the spell normally (you may not use metamagic options with this spell). If you fail, the spell is not cast and you roll on the Wild Magic Surge table.

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VARIANCE | APPENDIX A

Appendix B: Crafting Magic Items

The optional rules here build on the guidance under "Creating a Magic Item" in the Dungeon Master's Guide, using an extension of the developing spells system (page 17). There are three main classes of magic item crafting: a magical bonus, am imbued spell and a bespoke effect. An item can be imbued with one of each.

Magical Bonus

This involves imbuing an item with magic energy, resulting in a bonus on rolls using that item - most commonly a weapon. Use the same required player level, time, cost and development checks as for developing a spell (page 17) of equivalent difficulty, as in the table below.

Equivalent spell level difficulty
Bonus Equivalent difficulty
+1 3rd level spell
+2 6th level spell
+3 9th level spell

Imbued Spell

This involves imbuing the item with the ability to cast a spell. You can only imbue a spell that you yourself can cast. The required player level, time, cost and development checks are equivalent to developing a spell of double that level. An imbued spell can be cast once every day (resetting at dawn) and has all the same properties, including casting time, as the original spell.

Equivalent spell level difficulty
Imbued spell level Equivalent difficulty
Cantrip See text
1st level 2nd level
2nd level 4th level
3rd level 6th level
4th level 8th level

Cantrips

Cantrips are a special case. The required player level, time, cost and development checks depend on the number of times the cantrip can be cast per day (once is equivalent to a 1st level spell development, twice to a 2nd level, up to 8 which is equivalent to an 8th level spell development).

For cantrips that scale with player level, the level is that of the item wielder not the crafter.

Enhanced spells

A spell may be enhanced with a metamagic version when it's imbued; treat this as increasing the spell level by one (and so increasing the difficulty level by 2). A spell may also be imbued to be cast more than once a day: increase the equivalent difficulty level by 2 for each extra casting. Finally,

a spell may be imbued at an upcast level; simply treat it as that higher level.

Charges

Instead of one or two spell castings that reset each day, an item may hold a number of charges, as is the case for many wands. Imbuing the spell follows the same rules and gives 1 charge. Additional charges (up to a maximum of 10) can be added any time afterwards, by the original crafter or more commonly by a suitable level magic tradesperson in a major town. Each charge takes a number of days equal to the spell's difficulty level and costs 100 gp per day per difficulty level (half this cost is materials, half is profit).

Bespoke Effects

Bespoke effects might include breathing underwater, resistance to a damage type, an ability score increase, or a feat or class ability. Consider which spell, racial ability, class ability, feat, etc the effect is most like. This will determine the difficulty of the crafting.

A feat, racial ability or 2 point ability score increase is equivalent to a 5th level spell development, a half-version of the effect is equivalent to a 3rd level spell development. For a spell, use the spell rules above. For a class ability, the equivalent difficulty level is the level the class ability is gained.

The crafter must also have access to someone or something that has the desired ability, to model the crafting.

For all these effects, if the source effect is always on, then so is the magical version. If the source effect is used a limited number of times or day, then the magical version can be used only once per day (to imbue an additional use, add 2 levels to the equivalent spell development level).

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VARIANCE | APPENDIX B

Appendix C: Variant Sorcerer

This appendix introduces two new variants on spellcasting, designed to reflect the more innate nature of a sorcerer's magic, and the physical strain associated with that. Common to both is a different approach to spellcasting ability and a move away from spell slots to a system more grounded in the sorcerer's own health resources and constitution. However the two variants use very different approaches to the mechanics of such a magic system.

Spellcasting

You have an innate connection to raw arcane power that you can channel from within, or from the world around you. You tap that power to craft your magic, limited less by supply, and more by the strain of opening and controlling this font of arcane energy that fuels your spells.

Spellcasting Ability

Constitution is your primary ability for control and supply of your magic, since your access to magic relies on your ability to cope with the raw energy that you tap. You use your Constitution when rolling Spell Success (for the Innate variant), or depend on it to hold on to the power you draw to fuel a spell (for the Channeler variant). Sometimes maintaining control of that arcane energy comes at a physical cost, taking a toll on your HD or hp.

However, you don't necessarily use your Constitution as your spellcasting ability. This depends on the nature of the spell you are casting. Sorcerers rely on their natural talents and have more affinity for spells that match those talents. Whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability, you use the ability that matches the spell save ability. For a spell attack, you choose any ability that you can use for a non-spell attack (usually Strength or Dexterity).

Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus +
your modifier for the save ability

Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + the ability modifier you use for non-spell attacks

Variant Spellcasting (Replaces Spell Slots)

The variant sorcerers presented here don't use spell slots. Their use of spells is more fluid, although it's still a resource that becomes increasingly limited until restored with rest. The system used differs significantly between the two variants and is their defining feature, as described below.

Innate Variant

For the Innate variant sorcerer, your Spell Success rolls (page 12) determine the number of spells you cast in a day. You use Constitution as your Spell Success roll ability score. If your Spell Success roll succeeds, the spell is cast. If it fails, the spell fails and you can't attempt any further spells until

you finish a short rest. On a heavy or critical failure, you can't attempt any further spells until you finish a long rest. You may use these options with or without other Degree of Success effects (page 13).

Each time you cast a spell, you get a cumulative -1 modifier to your Spell Success roll. This resets when you finish a long rest. So if you've already cast 3 spells that day, you make your next Spell Success roll with a -3 penalty. With this system, spells of your current level rapidly risk a failed roll and no further casting. A 5th level sorcerer may have a 75% chance of casting Fireball but is unlikely to succeed more than twice in a day, even if they cast no other spells. Low level spells are much more reliable, until the -1 modifiers add up.

You can overcome bad rolls by drawing on your own health energy. Using the Rescuing a Poor Casting option (page 12), you may spend any number of Hit Dice to increase the roll (Hit Dice always count as d6s, even if you have larger Hit Dice available), or you can take a level of exhaustion to reroll.

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VARIANCE | APPENDIX C

Channeler Variant

For the Channeler variant sorcerer, the Spell Points system (Dungeon Master's Guide) determines the number of spells you cast in a day. However, you don't have immediate access to the arcane energy, or mana, that fuels those spell points. Instead you can hold a small mana reservoir but need to draw more energy to cast larger spells. This mana comes from a Source to which you have a deep innate connection, whether elemental, natural or supernatural.

Drawing Mana. From 1st level, you are able to tap your Mana Source to channel arcane energy for your spells.

Tapping Mana. As a bonus action on your turn, you may tap mana from your Source, gaining mana up to the highest level of sorcerer spell you know. So a 5th level sorcerer who has access to 3rd level spells may tap up to 3 mana.

Gathering Mana. When you take the Cast a Spell action, you may Gather mana instead. This gains you mana up to the highest level of sorcerer spell you know plus your proficiency bonus. So the same 5th level sorcerer may gather up to 3 + 3 = 6 mana.

Heroic Effort. At any time, you may draw on your own health energy by spending a Hit Die to gain mana equal to that roll.

Mana Pool

The maximum mana you can channel before completing a long rest is determined by the pool of Spell Points (Dungeon Master's Guide) available for your sorcerer level, where each mana is a spell point and the maximum pool increases from 4 at 1st level to 133 at 20th level.

Mana Reservoir

You can safely hold mana equal to the highest level of sorcerer spell you know, without needing control. This is known as your mana reservoir.

Controlling Mana. When you end your turn holding more mana than your reservoir, you may choose to release the excess (still counts to your daily maximum), or to try to keep hold of it by making a Constitution saving throw. The DC equals 10 plus the excess mana and a natural 1 is always a failure. If you fail this check, you lose all the mana you were holding and are unable to channel more until you finish a short rest.

Mana Burn. When you fail a Constitution saving throw to control excess mana, you may spend hit points or Hit Dice to add to that roll, potentially making the failed saving throw into a success. Or you may take a level of exhaustion to reroll.

Mana Stores. Some rare magic items may function as mana stores, increasing your mana reservoir.

Casting Spells

You spend mana to cast spells, again using the Spell Points system (Dungeon Master's Guide), where each mana is a spell point and costs increase from 2 spell points for a 1st level spell to 13 spell points for a 9th level one.

Even if using the Spell Success roll option (page 12) for

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other spellcasters, you don't need to roll Spell Success for spells cast with mana (you have already successfully gathered the arcane energy for the spell and are an innate caster). If using the additional option requiring other spellcasters to also make a Spell Success roll for cantrips, then they cost 1 spell point for you.

Life Energy Alternative

You can adapt the Channeler sorcerer to use a life energy Source. Life energy may be channeled sustainably (preserver magic) or drained unsustainably (defiler magic). For this adaptation, Tapping Mana is sustainable but Gathering Mana becomes an alternative bonus action with a life energy cost (hp lost for each mana gained). This may be voluntary, with hp split evenly between yourself and any number of willing allies. Or it may be involuntary, with hp split evenly amongst all creatures within 30 ft who fail a Constitution save with DC equal to 10 + your proficiency bonus + your Constitution modifier (if all creatures save, no mana is drawn).

Other Class Features

All other features for these sorcerer variants are shared with the standard sorcerer (Player's Handbook and optional features in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything), except Flexible Casting.

Tapping Reserves (Replaces Flexible Casting)

Since you don't use spell slots, Flexible Casting can't be used. This is replaced with Tapping Reserves. As a bonus action on your turn, you can spend a Hit Die to gain 1d6 sorcery points.

VARIANCE | APPENDIX C

Appendix D: Variant Arcane Trickster

Although this Tome is focused more on general rules than it is on classes etc, the variant sorcerer options explore new spellcasting mechanics and this Arcane Trickster variant explores a melee teleporter (page 18), fulfilling the archetype of the rogue who uses their magic to get in and out of impossible situations.

Variant Arcane Trickster

Some rogues enhance their fine-honed skills of stealth and agility with magic, learning tricks of movement and illusion. These rogues include street hustlers and burglars, but also mischief-makers, covert operators and a significant number of adventurers.

Spellcasting

When you reach 3rd level, you augment your martial prowess with the ability to cast spells.

Cantrips. You know three cantrips of your choice, two of which you must choose from the transmutation and illusion spells on the wizard spell list. You learn another wizard cantrip of your choice at 10th level.

Spell Slots. The Arcane Trickster Spellcasting table (Player's Handbook) shows how many spell slots you have to cast your spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these spells, you must expend a slot of the spell's level or higher. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest. For example, if you know the 1st-level spell Expeditious Retreat and have a 1st-level and a 2nd-level spell slot available, you can cast Expeditious Retreat using either slot.

Spells Known of 1st Level and Higher. You know three 1st-level wizard spells of your choice, two of which you must choose from the transmutation and illusion spells on the wizard spell list.

The Spells Known column of the Arcane Trickster Spellcasting table shows when you learn more wizard spells of 1st level or higher. Each of these spells must be a transmutation or illusion spell of your choice, and must be of a level for which you have spell slots. For instance, when you reach 7th level in this class, you can learn one new spell of 1st or 2nd level. The spells you learn at 8th, 14th, and 20th level can come from any school of magic.

Whenever you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of the wizard spells you know with another spell of your choice from the wizard spell list. The new spell must be of a level for which you have spell slots, and it must be a transmutation or illusion spell, unless you're replacing the spell you gained at 3rd, 8th, 14th, or 20th level from any school of magic.

You learn additional spells with some of your Roguish Archetype features. You may cast these a specified number of times per day without expending spell slots or spell components and without requiring a spell success roll (page 12), but may also cast them with a spell slot if available.

Spellcasting Ability. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for your wizard spells, since you learn your spells through dedicated study and memorization. You use your Intelligence whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Intelligence modifier when setting the

saving throw DC for a wizard spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.

Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus +
your Intelligence modifier

Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus +
your Intelligence modifier

Unearthly step

Starting at 3rd level, you can cast Misty Step once with this feature and regain the ability to do so when you finish a short rest. Spells cast using your archetype features don't require spell components or spell success rolls (page 12) and don't expend a spell slot.

At 9th level, you can use Unearthly Step twice and regain both uses when you finish a short rest.

At 13th level, you can use Unearthly Step at will, as if it were a cantrip for you.

Rogue Magic

Starting from 3rd level, in addition to your Arcane Trickster spells and Unearthly Step, you learn a Rogue Magic spell. You may cast this spell once with this feature and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest. Doing so doesn't require spell components or a spell success roll and doesn't expend a spell slot. At 9th level and 13th level, you learn an additional Rogue Magic spell that you may cast instead.

At 3rd level, choose one Rogue Magic spell from the following list: blur, invisibility, or pass without trace.

At 9th level, choose another Rogue Magic spell from the following list: blink, gaseous form, or haste.

At 13th level, choose a third Rogue Magic spell from the following list: dimension door, etherealness, or greater invisibility.

Blinkstep

At 17th level, you gain the ability to teleport at will when moving. You may use any of your movement to teleport that distance instead, including breaking up teleportation before and after your actions or between attacks. Movement while teleporting does not provoke opportunity attacks and you may move through objects and creatures, so long as you can see the location that you are teleporting to.

You may also use your reaction to move up to 15’ at any time. Any damage being dealt to you at the time is halved.

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VARIANCE | APPENDIX D

Appendix E: Character Creation & Progression

Flexibility in character creation allows a broader range of concepts to be represented, but you also need to consider balance as can this lead to over-optimized builds. Tasha's Cauldron of Everything formalizes some very helpful flexibility. Here are some additional options.

Customizing Ability Scores

Allowing customization of ability scores across a wider range can better represent a player's character concept, although there may be a temptation to over-optimization. If you want to allow a wider range of ability scores, without trusting to randomly rolling them, you can use a system that aims to match the distribution of scores to what you might expect to get from balanced rolling. There are two ways of doing this. For either, you may wish to restrict how wide a range is available.

Paired Scores

Here you may choose any advantageous score, so long as you match it with a disadvantageous score that is at least as rare. The standard "best-3-of-4d6" roll has a skewed distribution, so the average (mean) roll is just over 12 (rather than the central 9.5 of a straight 3d6 roll) and 12 is also the middle (median) roll. Matched probabilities are listed in the table below. Your character starts with 12 in all six ability scores and you may replace a 12 with any higher number, so long as you replace a different 12 with the matched lower number.

Selected Score Probability of rolling this, or higher Matched Score Probability of rolling this, or lower
18 1.6% 5 1.2%
17 5.8% 7 5.7%
16 13.0% 8 10.5%
15 23.1% 9 17.5%
14 35.5% 10 26.9%
13 48.8% 11 38.3%

Points System

If you want even more flexibility, you can use a points system across the six ability scores, rather than having to use matched pairs. The points system described here bases the difference from one score to the next on the difference in probably of rolling that high (or low) if 4d6 were used.

The cost for any given ability score value is listed in the table below, with a 12 as no cost. You may choose any six ability score values such that the total cost is 0 or less.

Score Cost
3 -28
4 -21
5 -16
6 -12
7 -9
8 -7
9 -5
10 -3
Score Cost
11 -1
12 0
13 +1
14 +2
15 +4
16 +7
17 +10
18 +16

(The underlying model uses a log transformation of the proportional difference in probability of achieving at least that value (either per step or from median). Log(1.26) scales the minimum change (12 to 13) to 1. Rounded points were then subjectively rationalized between the cumulative points per step and exact points from the median.)


Saving Throw Proficiencies

With this option, players may choose their own saving throw proficiencies, to reflect that their character's focus in training may differ from others within the same class (whether due to their archetype or simply their character concept).

Choose one of Dexterity, Constitution, or Wisdom, and one of Strength, Intelligence, or Charisma. Since this reflects your training focus, you may only choose ability scores that are 13 or higher.

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VARIANCE | APPENDIX E

As an additional option, to allow that focus to change over time, you may change one selection whenever you have the Ability Score Improvement feature from gaining a level.

For campaigns with a more epic feel, whenever you have the Ability Score Improvement feature from gaining a level, you gain a half-proficiency in a saving throw of your choice. If you already have half-proficiency, you gain full proficiency.

Intelligence Proficiencies

With this common variant, added here for convenience, you start with an additional number of tool or language proficiencies equal to your Intelligence modifier.

Training & Versatility

As you progress through your levels, your interests, focuses and specializations progress and may shift and evolve. To reflect this, when your class gives you the Ability Score Improvement feature, you may gain a half-proficiency in a

skill, language, tool or weapon or your choice. If you already have half-proficiency, you gain full proficiency. You may also replace one skill, language or tool proficiency you have with another skill, language or tool proficiency of your choice.

Simplified XP

This final experimental option is a radically simplified method for awarding XP, derived from a post by Acromir. Any time the party overcomes a challenge, whether combat,

exploration, social, or even crafting, simply decide on difficulty: Easy, Medium, Hard, or Deadly and award each player the XP listed against the party's average level on the XP Threshold by Character Level table in the Dungeon Master's Guide (page 82).

If different players contributed significantly more or less, or had more or less challenge / risk, you can choose to award individually.

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VARIANCE | APPENDIX E

Part 4

Archive
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The Archive

As this Tome evolves, some of the original options are being retired to this archive. They remain popular in the feedback and the modular nature of the Tome means that you can always still use them in place of the newer options. However they're being separated out into this archive to simplify the organization of the main Tome around their newer replacements.

Variant Defense

This variant was the original defense option in previous editions of the Tome, before the Defense Dice option replaced it. Instead of using a supply of defensive dice, a constant defensive bonus (your proficiency bonus) is added to your AC. A slightly bigger correction factor is needed for this (-4 as opposed to the -2 with defense dice).

So a level 6 fighter (proficiency bonus of +3), with a Dexterity of 14 (ability modifier of +2), and wearing breastplate armor (base AC 14), has a AC of 14 +2 +3 -4 = 15.

At lower levels, this will slightly increase the chance of being hit (and the chance of higher damage from degree of success). While at higher levels, the chance will slightly decrease. These effects balance well with the "Gritty Progression" option (page 9), so the options are best used together.

If you choose to use this variant, you may wish to use a previous edition of the Tome (e.g. v2.0), which is organized around this as a core feature.

Proficiency Dice

A hybrid variant of the Defense and Defense Dice options is to use a proficiency die ("Proficiency Dice" option, Dungeon Master's Guide) for the defense proficiency bonus. Players roll this proficiency die when defending, instead of applying the fixed proficiency bonus to their AC (the fixed -4 correction factor is still used).

Rolling your chance to influence an attack (and, with degree of success, its damage) allows players to feel more involved outside of their own turn and drove the popularity of this variant, as well as the development of the subsequent Defense Dice option.

Combat Stance in Melee

If you're using one of these archive defense variants, this archive version of the combat stance option uses proficiency bonus rather than defense dice:

Defensive Stance

When taking the Attack action with a melee weapon, for every 2 proficiency bonus points sacrificed from attack bonus, add 1 to your AC, until your next turn.

Aggressive Stance

Or, visa versa, when taking the Attack action with a melee weapon, for every 2 proficiency bonus points sacrificed from AC (Defense option), add 1 to your attack bonus for melee attacks, until your next turn.

Using Proficiency Dice

It's possible to use these stances with the "Proficiency Dice" option, by moving up or down the equivalent proficiency dice, but it's more cumbersome.

Limited Defense

There are situations where an individual can’t defend to their full ability, and you may wish the defensive proficiency bonsu to reflect this:

  • Defender unable to use weapon / shield (e.g. arms bound): Adjust AC by removing bonuses from the shield (and/or weapon) and their proficiency bonus (Defense option).
  • Defender unable to move freely (e.g. legs bound): Attacker rolls with advantage as per standard rules. Also remove any (positive) Dexterity bonus from defender's AC.
  • Defender unable to move body / react (e.g. restrained or stunned): Both of the above apply.
  • Defender fully immobilized (e.g. paralyzed or unconscious): All of the above apply plus any attack at a range of 5 ft or less is automatically a critical hit.
  • A defender who actively ignores a melee attacker is treated as restrained for that attack.

Monsters

As with defense dice, these defense variants are intended for player characters and nonplayer characters who have levels, as opposed to monsters who don't.

Monster Armor Class by Challenge Rating
CR Proficiency Bonus AC Adjustment
0-4 +2 -2
5-8 +3 -1
9-12 +4 no change
13-16 +5 +1
17-20 +6 +2
21-24 +7 +3
25-28 +8 +4
29-30 +9 +5

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However, if you do want to use defense with monsters, their proficiency bonus can being determined by their challenge rating (Monster Statistics by Challenge Rating table, Dungeon Master's Guide), leading to the AC adjustment in the table above. Although proficiency dice can be used for monsters, it is easier and faster for the DM to use the fixed proficiency bonuses for monsters.

Additional Options When Not Using Defense Dice

These archived options were no longer required when defense dice became a core option. If you're not using defense dice, whether you're using a different defense variant or not, then these options may have a role.

Leaving Yourself Open

Your pool of defense dice reflect the actions you took, with certain actions limiting your ability to defend yourself. If you are not using defense dice, you may want to expand the "Leaving Yourself Open" situations (page 15) to include some actions that would provoke an opportunity attack in melee:

  • Casting a spell with a casting time of more than 1 action, or a casting time of 1 action if the range is more than 15 ft
  • Making a ranged attack
  • Any action that actively ignores your opponent

Defensive Feats

A number of feats within this Tome make use of defense dice. If you are not using defense dice, then Shield Expertise, Dual Wielder and the Defensive Duelist feats add your proficiency bonus to your AC instead of a defense die.

Being Outnumbered

It is harder to defend against an opponent when you also need to look out for other attackers. The Help action (Player's Handbook) and abilities like Pack Tactics (Monster Manual) can partially represent this, as can the optional flanking rules (Dungeon Master's Guide). Defense dice provide an alternative to flanking but two other simple alternatives are suggested here if you're not using the defense dice option.

A melee group is a group where each creature is within reach of at least one opponent in the group.

Variant 1: Advantage

If during an attacker's turn, their side outnumbers the

opponents by at least 2:1 in that melee group (so at least double as many attackers as opponents), then the attacker has advantage on attack rolls against those opponents.

Variant 2: Attack Bonus Modifier

This variant uses attack bonus modifiers rather than advantage. If during an attacker's turn, their side outnumbers the opponents in that melee group, then the attacker gains a +1 to their attack bonus against those opponents. If their side outnumbers the opponents by 2:1, they gain +2 instead. If they outnumber the opponents by 3:1, they gain +3, and so on.

Gritty Spell Success Table

The original version of the spell success option had some differences, including a grittier degree of success table. If your campaign setting has rarer, less reliable magic, then you may still wish to use this previous version:

Roll Spells with a Target Other Spells
Critical Failure (10-) Critical Misfire: switch target to you, or from you to a random target. You can’t cast further spells of that level or higher until you finish a short or long rest Critical Surge: you, and others within 30 ft, take 1d6 force damage for each level of the spell. You can’t cast further spells of that level or higher until you finish a short or long rest
Heavy Failure (5-) Misfire: switch to a random other target Surge: take 1d4 force damage for each level of the spell
Failure (1-) Fizzles Fizzles
Marginal (0) Very odd appearance. Disadvantage on spell attack roll. Advantage on saves against spell Very odd appearance. Disadvantage on spell attack roll. Advantage on saves against spell
Success (1+) Acceptable appearance Acceptable appearance
Strong Success (5+) Appears exactly as described Appears exactly as described
Critical Success (10+) Perfect. You may cause any one roll within the spell to be rerolled, replacing the original roll Perfect. You may cause any one roll within the spell to be rerolled, replacing the original roll

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VARIANCE | ARCHIVE

Rolling Success & 3d20

Degree of success uses steps of +/- 5 to split success and failure into a spectrum from critical success through to critical failure. Steps of +/- 5 are easy to work with in-game and if you want to test out the math to see the chance of each result, that's easy to calculate (tables below).

Two other systems were playtested that involved rolling the degree of success. Each was initially very popular with some groups but then fell out of use. This was partly due to the additional rolls required and partly because effects that apply modifiers after a roll are more easily calculated with a single dice.

For those still using either variant, or interested the maths and mechanic underlying them, here's an in-depth look at the performance characteristics of the various degree of success methods.

Variant 1: Rolling Success

"Rolling Success" was a variant that used a second roll instead of counting +/- 5. Simply roll again after a success: a second success is a strong success; and if the second roll is also higher than the first, then it's a critical success. Likewise roll again after a fail: a second fail is a heavy failure; and if the second roll is also lower, then it's a critical failure. An exact roll is marginal (no second roll needed).

Main Roll Second Roll Outcome
Fail Lower Critical Failure
Fail Fail Heavy Failure
Fail Succeed Failure
Exact roll - Marginal
Succeed Fail Success
Succeed Succeed Strong Success
Succeed Higher Critical Success

Advantage & Disadvantage

If rolling with advantage or disadvantage, or with any reroll effect, these only apply to the main roll. You then make a single Rolling Success roll to determine degree of success (unless already a marginal success). If the main roll was with advantage, then use the most helpful main dice roll when comparing for critical success or failure. If the main roll was with disadvantage, then use the least helpful main dice roll.

"Rolling Success" is readily interchangeable with the steps of +/- 5 option, fits the fifth edition aesthetic, and was popular with some playtest groups.

Variant 2: 3d20

"3d20" is a second variant where thee d20s are rolled instead. The majority roll determines success or failure. Strong success if all three succeed and a critical success if any of those is a natural 20. Heavy failure if all three fail and a critical failure if any of those are a natural 1. A marginal result occurs when there is a simple success (two of three d20s succeed) but at least one roll is exact.


Roll Also Outcome
(--+ A natural 1 Critical Failure)
--- A natural 1 Critical Failure
--- Heavy Failure
--+ Fail Failure
-++ An exact roll Marginal
-++ Success
+++ Strong Success
+++ A natural 20 Critical Success
(-++ A natural 20 Critical Success)

Advantage & Disadvantage

If rolling with advantage or disadvantage, simply roll four d20s and remove the lowest (advantage) or highest (disadvantage) roll. For any reroll effect, you may choose to reroll all the dice, or to reroll just one dice of your choice.

Some playtest groups liked the more reliable outcome of a "two out of three" rolling system for skill checks but it was less popular for combat. If you do want that reliability for skill checks, a simpler approach is to replace the standard d20 roll with 2d10 or 3d6.

Comparing Probabilities

In the charts on the next page, "Rolling Success" and "3d20" are compared with the standard option (steps of +/- 5) across the full range of target values for a d20 roll (this range is wider than you're likely to encounter, since bounded accuracy keeps the target "to hit" value of most rolls somewhere around a 9 on a d20). The second chart shows the effect of also using a natural 1 or 20 as a critical failure or success for the steps of +/- 5 or "Rolling Success" systems, or for including criticals that occurs with a split results (--+ fail or -++ success) when using the 3d20 system.

The correlation between steps of +/- 5 and "rolling success" is very good, especially at less extreme target rolls.

Treating a natural 1 or 20 as a critical failure or success only has a small effect when using steps of +/- 5, ensuring that there is always at least a 5% chance of these but not otherwise affecting the odds. It has a larger effect for "rolling success" as it raises the chance of a critical failure or success by 5% at every target value, making these too frequent at common target values such as 9.

"3d20" has a less linear scaling than the other two methods and critical failure or success is too infrequent if limited to --- or +++ rolls, so it's better to also include --+ or -++ rolls.

Conclusion

Steps of +/- 5, with the addition of a natural 1 or 20 as a critical failure or success, is recommended as the main variant. "Rolling Success" (best used without an additional effect from a natural 1 or 20) and "3d20" (with criticals as above), are workable alternatives but are no longer recommended.

VARIANCE | ARCHIVE
If No Additional Effect from a Natural 1 or 20
Target 1+ 2+ 3+ 4+ 5+ 6+ 7+ 8+ 9+ 10+ 11+ 12+ 13+ 14+ 15+ 16+ 17+ 18+ 19+ 20
Steps +/- 5
Critical Hit % 50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Strong Hit % 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 20 15 10 5 0 0 0 0 0
Success Roll
Critical Hit % 43 38 34 30 26 23 19.5 16.5 14 11 9 7 5 4 2.5 1.5 0.75 0.25 0 0
Strong Hit % 52 47 42.5 38 34 30 26 22.5 19 16 13.5 11 9 7 5 3.5 2 1 0.5 0
3d20
Critical Hit % 15 13 11.5 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3.5 3 2 1.5 1 0.75 0.5 0.25 0.1 0.01
Strong Hit % 85 73 61 51 42 34 27.5 21.5 16.5 12.5 9 6.5 4 3 1.5 1 0.5 0.1 0.01 0
If A Natural 1 or 20 Is Always a Critical Failure or Success
Target 1+ 2+ 3+ 4+ 5+ 6+ 7+ 8+ 9+ 10+ 11+ 12+ 13+ 14+ 15+ 16+ 17+ 18+ 19+ 20
Steps of +/- 5
Critical Hit % 50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
Strong Hit % 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 20 15 10 5 0 0 0 0 0 0
Success Roll
Critical Hit % 48 43 39 35 31 28 24.5 21.5 19 16 14 12 10 9 7.5 6.5 6 5 5 5
Strong Hit % 47 42.5 38 34 30 26 22.5 19 16 13.5 11 9 7 5 3.5 2 1 0.5 0 0
3d20
Critical Hit % 15 14 14 14 14 13.5 13 13 12 11.5 11 10 9 8.5 7.5 6.5 5 4 3 1.5
Strong Hit % 85 73 61 51 42 34 27.5 21.5 16.5 12.5 9 6.5 4 3 1.5 1 0.5 0.1 0.01 0

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Tinkering with

the Mechanics

of D&D 5E

A cohesive set of modular rules options that expand on the core D&D® game mechanics, adding compatible depth, while keeping the distinctive feel of fifth edition.

Each option can stand alone or as an integral part of the wider ruleset, simply pick-and-mix to suit your group's taste and style.

Includes variant mechanics for:
Degree of Success • Ability Checks • Saving Throws • Advantage & Disadvantage • Combat • Defense & Tactics • Damage & Healing • Spellcasting • Overexertion • Equipment & Weapons • Feats • Character Creation

Fan Content craft homebrewed for use with fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons®

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