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D&D 5E D&D in the Grishaverse

I was not expecting to be as enamored with Shadow & Bone on Netflix as I was, but I was immediately hooked and really looking forward to them expanding the universe in future seasons.

While watching, I couldn't help but feel that the Grisha powers would make for an awesome alternate magic system for a D&D campaign.

For those unaware, the types of Grisha (sorcerers) generally fall under:

Corporalki
The Order of the Living and the Dead
  • Healers - 'nuff said
  • Heartrenders - can affect others hearts and other organs to warm their bodies, excite or calm people, slow healing and even give people heart attacks
  • Tailors - can change peoples physical appearances
Etherealki
The Order of Summoners
  • Squallers - can manipulate air pressure to create wind strong enough to move ships, knock over people, and even dampen or heighten sound. They can also summon lightning
  • Inferni - can enhance combustion - essentially a fire mage
  • Tidemakers - can manipulate water
Materialki
The Order of Fabrikators
  • Durasts - can manipulate inanimate objects changing them permanently. A 'crafter'
  • Alkemi - Alchemists specializing in poisons and blasting powders
There are also a few other special characters who can manipulate other things such as light or shadow.

The key element to this is that none of the Grisha "create" anything. They only manipulate what is already present.

Another really cool element of the setting is it's set in a faux late Tsarist Russia, where arms technology is rapidly advancing (flintlock and early repeating rifles are found here) that the power of technology is rapidly catching up with magic.

If any of you were to go towards creating a setting for this, what would you put into it? I think clearly rules for firearms and detailing of Grisha powers would be needed. But how would you do this? And what else would you include?
 

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Faolyn

Hero
(Note: I haven't seen the final ep yet, or read any of the books)

Materialki are Artificers. For everyone else, use either Sorcerers or Bards (I'd say player's choice), but with different spell lists that are specific to each type of magic. Plus, you'd have to create a bunch of new spells or convert them from earlier editions. I wouldn't try to include every spell in D&D, though--some magic just wouldn't exist in this world.

Since it's D&D, I'd probably have a wee bit of leeway with the type of spells allowed. Tailors might have more illusion and alteration magic, for instance (and clearly can cast spells like disguise self on other people) than they do in the show. Let Tidemakers actually create water and possibly give them some acid spells as well. Healers could have a touch of necromancy.
 

(Note: I haven't seen the final ep yet, or read any of the books)

Materialki are Artificers. For everyone else, use either Sorcerers or Bards (I'd say player's choice), but with different spell lists that are specific to each type of magic. Plus, you'd have to create a bunch of new spells or convert them from earlier editions. I wouldn't try to include every spell in D&D, though--some magic just wouldn't exist in this world.

Since it's D&D, I'd probably have a wee bit of leeway with the type of spells allowed. Tailors might have more illusion and alteration magic, for instance (and clearly can cast spells like disguise self on other people) than they do in the show. Let Tidemakers actually create water and possibly give them some acid spells as well. Healers could have a touch of necromancy.
Great ideas. Thank you.

Definitely certain grisha would likely need some leeway with their spells (tailors immediately came to mind for me also).

Tidemakers could probably do cool stuff with a bottle of water (push it into someone's lungs to drown them, water whip, etc). Even inferni need to carry a flint or something else to create the initial spark.

Another part of the setting would be that being grisha doesn't preclude learning how to use firearms. So maybe tailors and duress and the like would be more inclined to be gunslingers.

Trick would be what would you give a 1st army/non Grisham character to balance out their lack of magic. I would lean towards class features like fighting styles that add to attack rolls or damage.
 


Faolyn

Hero
Another part of the setting would be that being grisha doesn't preclude learning how to use firearms. So maybe tailors and duress and the like would be more inclined to be gunslingers.

Trick would be what would you give a 1st army/non Grisham character to balance out their lack of magic. I would lean towards class features like fighting styles that add to attack rolls or damage.
Guns are probably easy enough that you could just let people be proficient in them. I mean, light crossbows are simple weapons; a pistol could be one as well.

Have you seen the Level Up playtests yet? They've included a ton of combat maneuvers--including some that would let you build Jesper and his trickshooting abilities (I do mean a ton; there's like 150 of them). You could use those maneuvers even if you didn't include any other aspects from LU. You'd have to look at the class playtest packets to see how many maneuvers each class gets, and when. However, only martials get maneuvers; casters don't, so that'll help to keep give your martials an edge.
 
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Raith5

Adventurer
I agree that Shadow & Bone is good. I think you will need to develop rules around the way that Grishas can (greatly) enhance their power via various items and substances. This seems important to the show's story but also to the world.
 


I read all the books a few years ago. I adored the Six of Crows duology (which the Netflix series has kind of blended in with S&B). Considering it's fantasy and so is D&D...
 

DoomDwarf_347

First Post
Just binged the whole of Shadow and Bone on Netflix in one sitting and absolutely was enthralled by it. Immediately I want to run a campaign of the story arc from season 1, it is just so incredibly masterful. Went searching and found this thread, did you get anywhere with your work on this?
 


I was not expecting to be as enamored with Shadow & Bone on Netflix as I was, but I was immediately hooked and really looking forward to them expanding the universe in future seasons.

While watching, I couldn't help but feel that the Grisha powers would make for an awesome alternate magic system for a D&D campaign.
This is always a huge problem. Roughly 40% of the PHB of every edition except 4e is made up of spells, and if we're tearing out the D&D magic system and starting from scratch we're down to fighters, rogues, barbarians, and monks (and even there not every subclass).

Using a "least changes" approach we need our casters to have very limited spell lists by D&D standards. Fortunately there are four candidates; the Sorcerer, the Warlock, the Ranger, and the Artificer. Alkemi are Artificer (Alchemist)s, end of story. I'm not sure about durasts - but they should hack the Artificer rules.

The Corporalki and Etherialki on the other hand need a vastly pruned spell list and to work out whether they are primarily warriors/skill users (i.e. hacked ranger + subclass), mostly casters (sorcerer) or casters with spammy tricks (warlocks with custom invocation list)
 

I haven't done any work on this due to real life concerns. Might at the end of the year look at cobbling something together.

For me the hardest part about tweaking D&D is the prevalence of magic and spells into so mamy class features. Where other RPGs might have a talent that let's you do something, in D&D is often a spell (looking at you hunter's mark).

I think it'd be best to use an AiME approach and create new classes reusing many of the class features in D&D classes.

Just brainstorming you could have as your mundane classes:
Scout (ranger equivalent)
Soldier (fighter)
Medic (non magic cleric type healing abilities)
Navigator (skills/bard equivalent)

And then you have your 2nd army grishas of course. I imagine their spells would be much more focused than d&d but perhaps have more versatility in how they are used. I feel warlock invocations might be a better way to handle this rather than a spell list, but who knows.
 

DoomDwarf_347

First Post
I haven't done any work on this due to real life concerns. Might at the end of the year look at cobbling something together.

For me the hardest part about tweaking D&D is the prevalence of magic and spells into so mamy class features. Where other RPGs might have a talent that let's you do something, in D&D is often a spell (looking at you hunter's mark).

I think it'd be best to use an AiME approach and create new classes reusing many of the class features in D&D classes.

Just brainstorming you could have as your mundane classes:
Scout (ranger equivalent)
Soldier (fighter)
Medic (non magic cleric type healing abilities)
Navigator (skills/bard equivalent)

And then you have your 2nd army grishas of course. I imagine their spells would be much more focused than d&d but perhaps have more versatility in how they are used. I feel warlock invocations might be a better way to handle this rather than a spell list, but who knows.
I've often heard this said, that DnD isn't always the best system to base things off of when trying to create a game for any given piece of media, simply because it's one of the most popular systems. Obviously there are a ton of other rules systems out there, but I'm not personally familiar with many of them as DnD 5E is the only system I've played, and even that only sparingly. Would you be interested in connecting on Discord to discuss this further and possibly collaborate on some more ideas? That's where I spend most of my time. I'm not in any rush either, I'm currently DM'ing a campaign of my own for the first time so most of my creative efforts go into planning for that.
 

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