A Faerunian Tale
DM NOTE: All sourcebooks referenced below are D&D 3.5 compatible with the exception of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, which has been updated with information from the Player’s Guide to Faerun Web Enhancement. Additional source books and supplements that are not available to the players may be used by the DM.
Please feel free to use the following online resources:
- The Hypertext D20 SRD: http://www.d20srd.org
- D&D 3.5 Base Classes Index: http://ronnmccarrick.com/rpg/baenrahl/pdfs/DnD3.5Index-Classes-Base.pdf
Please also note that the group currently maintains source documents and files using Dropbox – www.dropbox.com
CHARACTER CREATION/SHEET RESOURCE:
Hero Forge is by far the most superior D&D 3.5 character creation spreadsheet available. Be sure to “Enable Macros” if prompted when loading the spreadsheet. http://www.nzcomputers.net/heroforge/default35.asp
PLAYER CORE BOOKS:
- Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (FRCS)
- Player’s Guide to Faerun (PGF)
- Player’s Handbook (PHB)
- Player’s Handbook 2 (PHB 2)
- Complete Adventurer (CAdv)
- Complete Arcane (CArc)
- Complete Champion (CCha)
- Complete Divine (CDiv)
- Complete Mage (CMage)
- Complete Scoundrel (CSco)
- Complete Warrior (CWar)
- Spell Compendium (SpC)
- Races of Destiny (RoD)
- Races of the Dragon (RotD)
- Races of Stone (RoS)
- Races of the Wild (RotW)
- Book of Exalted Deeds (BoED)
- Dungeonscape (DSc)
- Underdark (UDk)
- Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG)
- Dungeon Master’s Guide 2 (DMG 2)
- Magic Item Compendium (MIC)
- Monster Manual (MM)*
- Unearthed Arcana (UA)*
- Tome of Battle (ToB)*
*Only limited variants/selections as outlined in these House Rules are available
PLAYER CORE RACES:
- Dwarf (PHB)
- Elf (PHB)
- Dark [Drow] Elf (MM)
- Desert Elf (UA)
- Gnome (PHB)
- Goliath (RoS)
- Half-elf (PHB)
- Half-orc (PHB)
- Halfling (PHB)
- Tallfellow Halfling (UA)
- Human (PHB)
- Illumian (RoD)
- Raptoran (RotW)
Note: Other races may be available upon request on a case-by-case basis.
Players determine their initial attributes based on the 32 Point Buy System described in the DMG p.169.
Players will automatically gain average hit points at each level with the exception of 1st level where full hit points are automatically gained as usual. Subsequent levels will follow a low/high average pattern. For example, a Rogue would gain 6 hp at 1st level, 3 hp at 2nd level, 4 hp at 3rd level, 3 hp at 4th level, 4 hp at 5th level, etc.
Intimidate has new uses as described in Tome of Battle.
Evil alignments are not allowed due to the heroic nature of the game.
Characters are provided with wealth in accordance with the Wealth by Character Level table in the DMG based on their level when joining the party. Each character will also receive a random Minor Wondrous Item as a bonus.
RULE CHANGES & ADDITIONS:
- Character Death variant has been added as described below
- Massive Damage variant has been added as described below
- Action Points will be used to supplement game play as described below
- Taint will be used to supplement game play as described below
If a character dies from normal hit point loss or a magical effect that that does not destroy the character utterly (e.g. “Destruction” spell), then the player has the option of allowing the character to remain unconscious (and stable at -9 HP) for the remainder of the encounter. After the encounter, the character will heal normally but shall retain a Flaw (determined randomly) according to the ATF Flaws of Surviving Death chart posted on the Yahoo Group. This will allow a character to remain with the party longer despite falling in battle, but such failure has its price.
Note: Character death from Massive Damage (see below) can only be brought back through magical means, since massive damage assumes extreme physical trauma (e.g., decapitation, crushed torso, severed limbs, etc.) that cannot be treated through mundane methods. A character magically revived by anything less than a “True Resurrection” spell or equivalent automatically receives a Flaw as described above.
A character’s massive damage threshold is equal to 25 +2 per Hit Die. Whenever a character takes damage from a single hit (mundane or magical) that equals or exceeds this value, he must succeed on a DC 15 Fortitude save or suffer instant death.
For example, a 5th-level human fighter has a massive damage threshold of 35 (25 + [2 × 5]). A fire giant has a massive damage threshold of 55 (25 + [2 × 15]).
Action points give character the means to affect game play in significant ways, by improving important rolls or unlocking special abilities. Each character has a limited number of action points, and once an action point is spent, it is gone for good.
Metagame Analysis: Action Points
Action points give players some control over poor die rolls. Although this has little effect in an average encounter, it makes it a little more likely that characters will survive extremely challenging encounters and less likely that a single character will fall to what would otherwise be a balanced foe because of bad luck. A reserve of action points lets even careful players expose their characters to more risks, heightening the game’s tension and opening the door to even more heroic action. This variant also makes it less likely that an entire adventuring group will fall victim to one powerful effect, such as circle of death or cloudkill. Action points also make it more likely that the use of a character’s most potent abilities will be successful. For example, although its overall effect on an encounter might be minimal, few things frustrate a paladin more than missing with a smite attack—an event that becomes less likely when using action points.
Acquiring Action Points
A beginning (1st-level) character starts the game with 5 action points. A character above 1st level starts the game with a number of action points equal to 5 + 1/2 his current character level. Every time a character advances, he gains a number of action points equal to 5 + 1/2 his new character level.
Action Points and Existing Games
Adding action points to an existing campaign is easy, since characters don’t need to make any special changes. Each character simply gains a number of action points equal to 5 + 1/2 his character level.
NPCs and Action Points
Most NPCs probably shouldn’t have action points, due to the added complexity this would create. In the case of important villains or other significant characters, however, the GM may award them an appropriate number of action points to use against the player characters. A number of action points equal to 1/2 the NPC’s level is a good baseline.
Using Action Points
You can spend 1 action point either to add to a single d20 roll, to take a special action, or to improve the use of a feat.
You can spend 1 action point in a round. If you spend a point to use a special action (see below), you can’t spend another one in the same round to improve a die roll, and vice versa.
Add to a Roll
|Character Level||Action Point Dice Rolled|
When you spend 1 action point to improve a d20 roll, you add the result of a 1d6 to your d20 roll (including attack rolls, saves, checks, or any other roll of a d20) to help you meet or exceed the target number. You can declare the use of 1 action point to alter a d20 roll after the roll is made, but only before the GM reveals the result of that roll. You can’t use an action point to alter the result of a d20 roll when you are taking 10 or taking 20.
Depending on character level (see table), a character might be able to roll more than one d6 when he spends 1 action point. If so, apply the highest result and disregard the other rolls. A 15th-level character, for instance, gets to roll 3d6 and take the best result of the three. So, if he rolled a 1, 2, and 4, he would apply the 4 to his d20 roll.
A character can perform certain tasks by spending an action point. In addition to the actions described below, some prestige classes or feats (see below) might allow the expenditure of action points in order to gain or activate specific abilities, at the GM’s option.
Activate Class Ability
A character can spend 1 action point to gain another use of a class ability that has a limited number of uses per day. For example, a monk might spend an action point to gain another use of her stunning fist ability, or a paladin might spend an action point to make an additional smite attack.
A character can spend 1 action point as a free action when fighting defensively. This gives him double the normal benefits for fighting defensively for the entire round (+4 dodge bonus to AC; +6 if he has 5 or more ranks in Tumble).
At the beginning of a character’s turn, he may spend 1 action point as a free action to gain the benefit of a feat he doesn’t have. He must meet the prerequisites of the feat. He gains the benefit until the beginning of his next turn.
During any round in which a character takes a full attack action, he may spend 1 action point to make an extra attack at his highest base attack bonus. Action points may be used in this way with both melee and ranged attacks.
A character can spend 1 action point as a free action to increase the effective caster level of one of his spells by 2. He must decide whether or not to spend an action point in this manner before casting the spell.
Spellcasters who prepare their spells in advance can spend 1 action point to recall any spell just cast. The spell can be cast again later with no effect on other prepared spells. This use of an action point is a free action and can only be done in the same round that the spell is cast. Spontaneous spellcasters such as sorcerers and bards can spend 1 action point to cast a spell without using one of their daily spell slots. This use of an action point is a free action and can only be done as the spell is being cast.
Any time a character is dying, he can spend 1 action point to become stable at his current hit point total.
Some places and items are so evil that exposure to them marks, or taints, a character in a very real and difficult-to-cleanse way. Taint is evil. It is a corruption so deep it warps the very plane of reality. A weapon used to slaughter thousands of innocents, a forest grown on land soaked in the blood of an evil deity, a book bound in the flesh of an archfiend for his own horrible purposes, and the presence of an evil deity are all sources of taint. Then, of course, there are rings…
Metagame Analysis: Taint
Taint can be added to campaigns fairly seamlessly. It’s generally best to limit the number of places and items that can impart taint, to reduce the bookkeeping load on players and the GM.
Taint makes evil a physical threat to the well-being of characters. It can have a lasting impact on characters, even killing those who remain exposed too long.
Taint and Alignment
Taint can be used in addition to alignment. While characters with a minor amount of taint aren’t necessarily evil, they probably are. The more taint they acquire, the more evil they become. The GM should monitor taint carefully and provide a warning when a character disregards its effect, just as he would when a character acts outside his alignment. If you include taint in your campaign, you can add a detect taint spell to the cleric’s spell list.
The detect taint spell or spell-like ability is identical to detect evil, except that it detects the presence of taint within a creature or object. When determining the power of a tainted aura, refer to the table in the detect evil spell description. Find the creature or object’s taint score on the row for “Cleric of an evil deity”; the aura’s power corresponds to the column in which the taint score is contained.
Initial exposure to a tainted place or tainted object gives a character 1d3 points of taint.
For every 24 hours spent in a tainted place, or spent carrying a tainted object, a character must make a Fortitude saving throw. The base DC is 10, +5 for every consecutive 24 hours of exposure. Multiple simultaneous exposures (such as carrying a tainted weapon in a tainted place) increase the DC by +5 per source of exposure every 24 hours. If the character fails his saving throw, his taint score increases by 1.
Because of their good Fortitude saves, most barbarians, fighters, monks, paladins, and rangers resist taint better than members of other classes. Bards, rogues, sorcerers, and wizards are much more susceptible to taint.
Table: Taint-Absorbing Items
|Items Possessed||Days of Protection|
|7 or more||1|
Some natural substances absorb taint and thus protect those who are exposed to carry them. Examples include a pure jade rod the size of a human finger, a sheet of vellum prepared from a year-old lamb, an intricately carved piece of lightning-struck oak, or a silk sash. The GM can create other examples appropriate to the campaign as well. Regardless of the shape or substance of the item, taint-absorbing items cost 100 gp each.
As an item absorbs taint, it darkens, softens, and gradually rots away over seven days. During that time, it absorbs all taint to which the carrier is exposed. Possessing multiple taint-absorbing items at the same time can protect a character for longer than seven days, but the benefit does not accumulate indefinitely, as shown on Table: Taint-Absorbing Items.
Evil and Taint
Simply having an evil alignment is no defense against taint—it is too profound an effect for personal beliefs or moral codes to ward it off. Only undead and creatures with the evil subtype can ignore taint.
Of course, you may choose for evil creatures to become tainted by good. You can create sacred places and objects in your campaign that taint evil characters as well. You could say that creatures with the good subtype are immune to the effects of taint in such sacred places, but those sacred places would rot away creatures of the evil subtype.
Alternative Saving Throws
Often, fantasy literature portrays characters who delve into ancient, lost, or forbidden knowledge as becoming warped by their exposure to such knowledge. In campaigns with the same conceit, theFortitude saving throw makes sense. However, you could easily use a Will saving throw instead to determine whether a character picks up taint. This would mean that bards, clerics, sorcerers, and wizards develop a resistance to taint as they go up in levels (because of their good Will saves), but other classes would have a much harder time resisting.
Whether a Fortitude save or a Will save is used, clerics, druids, and monks are equally resistant to taint, which supports the genre conceit of horrible secrets hidden in inaccessible temples and monasteries. Rogues are vulnerable either way, explaining how thieves often appear in the genre as unwittingly releasing horror on the world when they steal something that was better left lost and protected.
When a character casts an evil spell in a tainted area, treat the caster as +1 caster level for spell effects that depend on caster level. When a character casts a good spell in a tainted area, treat the caster as -1 caster level for spell effects that depend on caster level. These changes in caster level have no effect on spells known, spells per day, or highest level of spell available.
Effects of Taint
Table: Taint Effects
- Occasional nausea or vomiting
- Pain in joints
- Hair goes white
- Mild paranoia
- Increased aggressiveness
- Mild hallucinations
- Phlegmy, wracking cough
- Eyelid swells, obscuring vision
- Pale, grayish, dead complexion
- Sunken eyes, cracked lips
- Skin seeps greasy, yellowish “sweat”
- Skin thickens, cracks, and turns leathery
- Bones begin to warp and thicken
- Black, lichenlike growth across skin itches incessantly
- Reddened, burnlike sores and scars
- Eye clouds or blood vessels break, obscuring vision
- Lips shrink back from gums
- Gums swell, bleed, and rot
- Bleeding from eyes, nose, mouth, ears, or lips
- Hair falls out
- Uncontrollable seizures that wrack the body with spasms
- Eruption of painful sores
- Sores ooze blood, pus, foul-smelling ooze, spiders or insects,
thick pasty substance, maggots, or acidic green slime
- Hears voices of evil spirits
- Severe paranoia
- Fits of uncontrollable, disturbing laughter
- Disregard for hygiene and cultural mores
- Flesh of nose rots away, leaving skull-like openings
- Mutated, deformed fingers, toes, leg, arm, head, ear, eye,
or teeth begin to grow on inappropriate parts of the body,
then shrivel, rot, and eventually fall off
- Spine twists, back hunches
- Severe warping of skeleton; skull enlarges and deforms
- Great swollen growths on the body
- Lungs eaten away from inside—wet, labored, and painful breathing
- Eye falls out, leaving gaping socket that glows with eerie green light
- Skin peels off in papery sloughs at the slightest touch, leaving raw,
red flesh beneath
- Fingers or toes begin to web and fuse
- Irresistible murderous urges
- Reduced to primitive behavior
- Eats inedible or still-living things
A character’s taint score applies as a penalty to his Constitution and Wisdom scores. Thus a character with a 16 Constitution and a 14 Wisdom who acquires a taint score of 4 has an effective Constitution of 12 and an effective Wisdom of 10. These penalties reflect the taint’s impact on the character’s physical and mental health.
Characters who embrace taint and make use of it can ignore some of these penalties. Though it reduces ability scores, the effect of taint is not treated as ability damage, ability drain, or any other penalty to an ability score that can be removed by magic.
A tainted character experiences the Constitution and Wisdom penalties in a variety of ways, from mild nausea, joint pain, or disorientation to rotting flesh, severe skeletal warping, and irresistible murderous urges. Table: Taint Effects is categorized according to whether a character is mildly, moderately, or severely tainted. A character who has lost 25% of his Constitution to taint is mildly tainted. A character who has lost 50% of his Constitution to taint is moderately tainted. A character who has lost 75% of his Constitution to taint is severely tainted. The effects on Table: Taint Effects are primarily meant as role-playing features, though the GM can apply minor game-related modifiers to represent some of these effects if he so chooses.
If a character’s Constitution score reaches 0 from the effects of taint, he dies—and 1d6 hours later he rises as a hideous, evil creature under the control of the GM. What sort of creature he becomes depends on his character level before dying.
|Character Level Before Death||Transforms Into|
|2nd or lower||Ghoul|
|9th or higher||Bodak|
As terrible as the effects of taint are upon the living, they are even worse upon the dead. Any creature that dies while exposed to taint animates in 1d4 hours as an undead creature, usually a zombie of the appropriate size. Burning a corpse protects it from this effect.
Once a character’s taint score reaches 10 (assuming he is still alive), he may seek out forces of great evil and pledge himself to their cause. Often evil cults, temples of evil deities, and the militaries of evil warlords eagerly accept such pledges, giving the character access to new sources of power.
It is possible to remove taint from characters in several ways, including through the use of spells, the performance of good deeds, and cleansing in a sacred spring. Taint cannot be removed unless the tainted character wants to be cleansed.
The following spells can reduce taint scores when cast outside tainted areas. No character can have his taint score reduced by any particular spell more than once per day (though different spells can reduce taint if cast on the same character in the same day).
This spell can remove taint, but with limits. First, it always requires a quest. Second, the caster decides how much taint to remove when casting atonement, up to a maximum equal to the caster’s level. This use of atonement costs the caster 500 XP. Atonement can reduce a taint score to 0.
This spell reduces a character’s taint score by 1 point per three caster levels, but it cannot reduce a taint score below 1.
Miracle Spell, Wish Spell
These spells cannot remove taint except by duplicating the effects of other spells mentioned here.
Remove Curse, Remove Disease Spell
These spells reduce a character’s taint score by 1 point, but they cannot reduce a taint score below 1.
This spell reduces a character’s taint score by 1 point per four caster levels, but it cannot reduce a taint score below 1.
Greater Restoration Spell
This spell reduces a character’s taint score by a number of points equal to the caster level of the cleric casting greater restoration. Greater restoration can reduce a taint score to 0.
Simple good deeds are not enough to remove taint. A character wishing to reduce his taint score through good deeds must undertake a particular ritual under the guidance of one of his deity’s clerics. The ritual prepares the character to undertake the deed.
Each deity’s faith has a list of ritual good deeds that the faithful may perform to prove their dedication to their deity. For example, church followers may choose to put on garments sacred to their faith (and which identify their faith to anyone who sees them) and patrol a particular part of their home as part of the militia or city guard. Adventuring is never part of a good deed, and a character who undertakes an adventure prior to completing his good deed must begin again with the ritual.
Deeds must be repeated every day for a week. Upon completion, the character’s taint score is reduced by 1 point. The character may continue the deed for another week to continue losing taint, or may return to the temple to undertake the ritual again and begin a different deed.
Alternatively, deeds may be quests undertaken on behalf of the deity. After the quest ends, the character’s taint score is reduced by 1 point per week required to complete the quest.
Good deeds may reduce a character’s taint score to 0.
Springs sacred to a particular deity or cause are located in remote regions, requiring long and dangerous travel to reach. For each day a character spends resting and cleansing himself at a sacred spring, his taint score is reduced by 1 point. A characters using this method to reduce his taint score can undertake no activities other than resting, eating, sleeping, and normal conversation.
Cleansing at a sacred spring may reduce a character’s taint score to 0.
Cleansing Places and Objects
Clerics may use hallow to remove taint from an area, but it takes time. The spell must remain intact for a year and a day to remove the taint from the area. If, during that time, an opposing character casts unhallow on some or all of the area, the effort is lost and must be reinstated by another casting of hallow. (The hallow spell only affects a 40-foot-radius area, so large areas may require many clerics working simultaneously to completely guard them.)
Unintelligent items left in a hallowed area for a year and a day lose their taint. Items that have an Intelligence score (and are thus treated as constructs for this purpose) can only be cleansed by using the spells mentioned above.
1.1– Added “Taint” to the list of alternate rules
1.2– Added “Taint” to Rule Changes & Additions on p.2
1.3– OCR links to PHB, DMG, Player’s Guide to Faerun, and Spell Compendium on p.1
1.4– Dead OCR links removed; minor grammatical/format corrections; Massive Damage variant has been clarified
1.5–Updated page reference for ability score Point Buy; added HIT POINTS house rules specifying average hit point gain.