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D&D 5E Free 60+ page Guide to Sword & Sorcery for 5E D&D

There is a new update of the Player's Guide available (version 1.10).

The changes in this version include:
  • Added examples of ability score arrays.
  • Noted that low Intelligence score reduces starting languages.
  • Added (optional) "Deadly Critical" rule to replace Instant Death.
  • Added exhaustion rule after being unconscious.
  • Added clause about full HD recovery on long rest.
  • Added Artificer as playable class.
  • Added background on Howard's cyclic history and "barbarism vs civilization" theory to the Cultures of Xoth chapter first page.
  • Adjusted some race descriptions to increase variety in the suggested cultures.
  • Noted that rapiers do not exist.
  • Sushranite longbows can add Strength to damage.

Enjoy! :)
Really like these changes. They all have an appropriate impact on the game.

On balance I think it’s a good call to leave out the tweak to instant death. Whilst I agreed with its change of emphasis, and how it flattens the heroic survivability a little, it’s not necessarily (I’m on the fence here) important enough to the game. But the switch to the deadly critical hits the notes I would look for in an S&S game exactly. It’s colourful for all the right reasons, and 5e provides a decent safety net for pcs.

Regarding the Artificer class, I gather it’s from a supplemental book, Tasha’s Cauldron of everything? Not sure but should reference to where it’s found be put into the text somewhere?
 

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meltdownpass

Explorer
Just stumbled on this thread and have to say this is the kind of supplement that makes me actually consider running a 5e game. Kudos for putting in the work and making this available. Typical D&D assumptions generally rob so much mystery and drama out of the game that I'm loathe to run one without making massive houserules. The other side of that is it's really a lot to ask of players to get them to read and absorb a ton of houserules -- Something like this is easy for me to point to and get everyone on the same page.
 


CapnZapp

Legend
Since this thread - and presumably its audience - has grown quite considerably, here are what I would personally add on top of the recently released version 1.10.

  • replace the second instance of repeated artwork, ideally with more Frazettian pieces of mighty men and voluptuous women
  • rename race to nationality
  • have players choose culture before nationality. Whether you're Civilized or Nomadic is the most defining aspect of a character, while your race or nationality is almost a footnote. Also, being given a list of which races support Civilized (or Nomadic etc) characters is much more natural, in my opinion, than trying to remember which exact cultures are supported by each nationality
  • offer a "men are mighty, women are voluptuous" optional rule that says that the starting Charisma of male characters is limited to 13 (instead of 15) before racial cultural modifiers. In the same way, the starting Strength of female characters is limited to 13 (instead of 15) before cultural modifiers.
  • simplify Deadly Criticals to simply say a critical hit kills any lower-leveled enemy encountered en masse (aka "mooks")

Most of this have been touched upon one way or another earlier in the thread.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
If I were to run 5th Edition again, I would probably make it clear the campaign would go from 1st to 10th level rather than all the way up to 20th level. Now, I remember how sparse and underwhelming high-level class features are for the most part, and would be tempted to simply say you count your class level double for purposes of gaining class features.

Obviously this is crude and rough, but it would solve the problem where a Ranger is supposed to feel anticipation for features like Hide in Plain Sight or Feral Senses - abilities that will wreck nothing if handed out at level 5 and 9 respectively. (So a Conqueror gains Aura of Protection at level 3 instead of 6, while a Barbarian gains Primal Champion and unlimited rages at level 10, not 20)

The first exception to this is (obviously?) hit points. A level 5 hero still has hit points like a level 5 character.

The other exception to this would be spells and slots. So a level 5 caster would still only have access to level 3 spells in level 3 slots. This basically means that damage spells can be allowed or restricted any way you like; they remain firmly uncompetitive compared to weapon damage. Spells that doesn't deal damage, however, remain just as effective as before.

This only applies to the spellcasting class feature. Other class features that give access to spells work as any other class feature. For instance, a Seducer Courtier gains Kiss of Domination (and its Dominate Person spell) at level 7, not 14. A Warlock could gain the Dreadful Word Eldritch Invocation (and its Confusion spell) at level 4, not 7.

Edit: Maybe this could best be discussed in a thread of its own to not obscure any Xoth-specific questions in this one...
 

FXR

Explorer
If I were to run 5th Edition again, I would probably make it clear the campaign would go from 1st to 10th level rather than all the way up to 20th level. Now, I remember how sparse and underwhelming high-level class features are for the most part, and would be tempted to simply say you count your class level double for purposes of gaining class features.


Edit: Maybe this could best be discussed in a thread of its own to not obscure any Xoth-specific questions in this one...

I'm not sure that it would be necessary to tinker with levels. The PCs in my D&D5e S&S campaign have reached level 11th and, thanks to bonded accuracy, are far from invincible. For instance, they still have at least one weak saving throw. Of course, I don't necessarily go easy on them. I'm stingy with rests, they have very few magical items and only one NPC can heal. Not every combat is a life or death situation, but do not underestimate what a few number of lower-stakes combat can do.
 


S'mon

Legend
The reason would be to avoid the spells and hit points of high level in the simplest possible way.

I think the simplest way would be to stick to levels 1-10 as per your original idea. Reducing XP awards if necessary.
Some high level class features are underwhelming, but some stuff like infinite wildshape & infinite rage is very powerful, moreso than level 9 spells I think.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
some stuff like infinite wildshape & infinite rage is very powerful, moreso than level 9 spells I think.
Well, I'm sure you noticed that capstone abilities would still be enjoyed during a single level only, just not the one numbered 20 but 10 instead.
 

S'mon

Legend
Well, I'm sure you noticed that capstone abilities would still be enjoyed during a single level only, just not the one numbered 20 but 10 instead.
How much play time for you is at capstone level? I have 5e campaigns that run dozens of sessions at 20th, so I didn't really think about it being only a couple sessions at 10th.
 

xoth.publishing

Swords against tentacles!
Regarding the Artificer class, I gather it’s from a supplemental book, Tasha’s Cauldron of everything? Not sure but should reference to where it’s found be put into the text somewhere?
Yes, it's assumed you will use the class from Tasha's. But I'm not sure the Open Gaming License (OGL) allows me to mention the book by name, so leaving it out just in case.
 

xoth.publishing

Swords against tentacles!
have players choose culture before nationality. Whether you're Civilized or Nomadic is the most defining aspect of a character, while your race or nationality is almost a footnote. Also, being given a list of which races support Civilized (or Nomadic etc) characters is much more natural, in my opinion, than trying to remember which exact cultures are supported by each nationality
This makes sense. I've been considering it for a while, but so far resisted to avoid having to redo the layout of the book.

offer a "men are mighty, women are voluptuous" optional rule that says that the starting Charisma of male characters is limited to 13 (instead of 15) before racial cultural modifiers. In the same way, the starting Strength of female characters is limited to 13 (instead of 15) before cultural modifiers.
Oh dear, that would get me into all kinds of trouble! :LOL: No, despite its roots, Xoth is an equal opportunities world! :) Those who have different/strong opinions on this can always house rule it in.

simplify Deadly Criticals to simply say a critical hit kills any lower-leveled enemy encountered en masse (aka "mooks")
This could also be done by giving such mooks only 1 hit point, a la the Minion rule from 4E. (Personally I prefer to run masses of mooks as mobs/swarms, to speed up play and avoid micromanaging each individual opponent.)
 
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This makes sense. I've been considering it for a while, but so far resisted to avoid having to redo the layout of the book.


Oh dear, that would get me into all kinds of trouble! :LOL: No, despite it's roots, Xoth is an equal opportunities world! :) Those who have different/strong opinions on this can always house rule it in.


This could also be done by giving such mooks only 1 hit point, a la the Minion rule from 4E. (Personally I prefer to run masses of mooks as mobs/swarms, to speed up play and avoid micromanaging each individual opponent.)
Iirc AD&D did this with extra attacks on 1hd and 2hd opponents if you were a fighter. But the 4e approach is probably the most straightforward way to make a real “mook”
 

xoth.publishing

Swords against tentacles!
Iirc AD&D did this with extra attacks on 1hd and 2hd opponents if you were a fighter. But the 4e approach is probably the most straightforward way to make a real “mook”
The Minion rule is straightforward. But if you want to jazz up Fighters a little bit (they can use some extra jazz), you could say that Fighters (and only Fighters) who kill a Minion with a hit, immediately get another attack against a Minion within (melee) range, up to a maximum number of extra attacks equal to their Fighter level, and no moving allowed between these attacks. So, for example, a 5th-level Fighter could possibly kill up to 6 Minions in one round. That's some serious carnage! :cool:
 


CapnZapp

Legend
How much play time for you is at capstone level? I have 5e campaigns that run dozens of sessions at 20th, so I didn't really think about it being only a couple sessions at 10th.
I think general consensus is that the capstone level is only at the very end of a campaign, so some gonzo imbalance can't hurt...
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Those who have different/strong opinions on this can always house rule it in.
I hope you appreciate how I intentionally did not phrase my post as "official" suggestions for your product.

Edit: I have been meaning to add an expanded idea to that post (post #304, posted at Mar 15, 2021 at 8:55 PM), but so far a slight medical condition has largely kept me away from keyboard.
 
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Delazar

Adventurer
@xoth.publishing pardon my lazyness, but would it be possible to have a list of the ALLOWED spells, instead of mentioning those that should be removed? Or did I miss it?

Awesome work btw, I'm really considering running a S&S campaign with 5e rules now. Getting a bit burned out on Eberron, and this is probably what I need.
 

xoth.publishing

Swords against tentacles!
@xoth.publishing pardon my lazyness, but would it be possible to have a list of the ALLOWED spells, instead of mentioning those that should be removed? Or did I miss it?
Sure. This should probably be included in the Player's Guide itself (like the spell list for the Cultist), but here's a list for your convenience for the other spellcasting classes (Druids and Warlocks). Note the list only includes spells from the SRD, or the Xoth Player's Guide (XPG). There are a few more spells in the PHB (and not in the SRD) that you'd probably want to allow as well.

Druid Spells

Cantrips (0 level)
Druidcraft
Guidance
Mending
Poison Spray
Produce Flame
Resistance
Shillelagh

1st Level
Animal Friendship
Charm Person
Detect Poison and Disease
Entangle
Faerie Fire
Fertility Charm (XPG)
Fog Cloud
Goodberry (healing only, not sustenance)
Jump
Longstrider
Purify Food and Drink
Speak with Animals
Thunderwave

2nd level
Animal Messenger
Barkskin
Darkvision
Enhance Ability
Find Traps
Flame Blade
Flaming Sphere
Gust of Wind
Heat Metal
Hold Person
Lesser Restoration
Locate Animals or Plants
Locate Object
Moonbeam
Pass without Trace
Protection from Poison
Spike Growth

3rd level
Call Lightning
Conjure Animals
Daylight
Dispel Magic
Meld into Stone
Plant Growth
Protection from Energy
Sleet Storm
Speak with Plants
Wind Wall

4th level
Blight
Confusion
Conjure Minor Elementals
Conjure Woodland Beings
Control Water
Dominate Beast
Drums of Panic (XPG)
Freedom of Movement
Giant Insect
Hallucinatory Terrain
Ice Storm
Locate Creature
Stone Shape
Stoneskin
Wall of Fire

5th level
Antilife Shell
Awaken
Commune with Nature
Conjure Elemental
Contagion
Geas
Greater Restoration
Insect Plague
Planar Binding
Scrying
Snake Staff (XPG)
Tree Stride
Wall of Stone

6th level
Conjure Fey
Find the Path
Heroes' Feast
Move Earth
Sunbeam
Sticks to Serpents (XPG)
Transport via Plants
Wall of Thorns

7th level
Fire Storm
Mirage Arcane
Raise the Ancient Lizard-Gods (XPG)
Regenerate
Reverse Gravity
Sorcery of the Skull (XPG)

8th level
Antipathy/Sympathy
Control Weather
Earthquake
Feeblemind
Sunburst

9th level
Foresight
Storm of Vengeance


Warlock Spells

Cantrips (0 level)
Chill Touch
Eldritch Blast
Mage Hand
Minor Illusion
Poison Spray
Prestidigitation
True Strike

1st Level
Charm Person
Expeditious Retreat
Hellish Rebuke
Illusory Script
Protection from Evil and Good (aka the Sign of Xoth)
Unseen Servant

2nd level
Darkness
Enthrall
Hold Person
Incantation of the Broken Limb (XPG)
Mirror Image
Misty Step
Ray of Enfeeblement
Shatter
Spider Climb
Suggestion

3rd level
Counterspell
Dispel Magic
Fear
Gaseous Form (movement along ground only, not in air)
Hypnotic Pattern
Magic Circle
Major Image
Remove Curse
Tongues
Vampiric Touch

4th level
Banishment (native target gets save every round)
Blight
Curse of Green Decay (XPG)
Hallucinatory Terrain

5th level
Contact Other Plane
Curse of Double Death (XPG)
Dream
Hold Monster
Lifeleech (XPG)
Lover's Curse (XPG)
Scrying

6th level
Circle of Death
Conjure Fey
Create Undead
Eyebite
Flesh to Stone
Mass Suggestion
True Seeing

7th level
Etherealness
Finger of Death
Forcecage
Soul Vulture (XPG)

8th level
Demiplane
Dominate Monster
Feeblemind
Glibness
Power Word Stun

9th level
Astral Projection
Foresight
Imprisonment
Power Word Kill
 


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