Playtest (A5E) Level Up Playtest Document #1: Origins


Welcome to the first Level Up playtest document. This playtest contains a candidate for the game’s Origins system—the initial building blocks of your character.

Are you ready to level up your 5E game? Welcome to Level Up, the standalone 'advanced 5E' backwards compatible tabletop RPG coming in 2021!

A crunchier, more flexible version of the 5E ruleset which you know and love. If you love 5E but would like a little more depth to the ruleset, Level Up is the game for you!

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What this is
This is a playtest document. We’d love you to try out the rules presented here, and then answer the follow-up survey in a few days.

What this is not
This is NOT the final game. It’s OK if you don’t like elements of these rules; that’s the purpose of a playtest document. Be sure to participate in the follow-up survey in a few days. All data, positive or negative is useful.

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🙌 👏 👏👅

The three distinctions is profound. I would have liked to have seen Aasimar there as well as the opposite to Tiefling, but that can always be something in the future.

I think it will be interesting to see what you do with classes, if this is what you start with.

I shall be watching with interest.

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Stop hatespeech and xenophobia against the vikings who raids our towns, and let'ts start to report the actions against those dammned goblings who destroy our sacred forests and nature zones to craft their infernal steampunk machines.

Rules have to avoid potential abuses by munchkins, but easy to be understood by new generations of players.

Maybe some player wants to create a "exotic" race-class combo and would like to can replace a racial trait with an optional racial feats, for example a martial maneuver for small humanoids to jump and attack heads by bigger enemies, because it's a classic on the anime.

* Could any door be opened for psionic powers or martial maneuvers in a future sourcebook? I like the gameplay of vestige binders, where you can use a diferente "prestige class" everyday with only summoning a vestige.

* Can Level-Up gets things from open licences by 5th Ed and Pathfinder? For example a dragonbonr alchemist, or a warlock yoksi.

* When a system is good, or popular? when lots of players want to create their own homebred crunch (new PC races, monsters or classes).

* Will druid's spell divine or primal magic?

* Aasimars also can be a race of "good guys but with a horrible reputation", people who suffered the tall poppies syndrome, and they lost their home by fault of rivals and envious who created a black legend as propaganda weapon to destroy their honor.
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(He, Him)
What this is
This is a playtest document. We’d love you to try out the rules presented here, and then answer the follow-up survey in a few days.

What this is not
This is NOT the final game. It’s OK if you don’t like elements of these rules; that’s the purpose of a playtest document. Be sure to participate in the follow-up survey in a few days. All data, positive or negative is useful.
From a mechanics perspective it would be good to see the options tabulated so that they can be formally compared. For balancing (taken to mean sustaining the greatest range of mechanically valid options, with least strict overshadowing) one might then rate each. They're very uneven at this point, which is to be expected.

In terms of the design toolkit used, there needs to be greater diversity. At present, there is a leaning toward expertise and all-advantage, all-the-time. From a directional point of view one might take current mechanical statements as calls for "some benefit in this area" and rephrase them according to an holistic mechanical vocabulary with a declared expressive range. So one might have a table that lists modifying mechanics in order of general power and exert imagination on that layer so as to transpose it into the end rules. Examples could include trivantage and ignoring the first source of disadvantage, through to proficiency in pillar values such as initiative or AC. Various forms of inspiration - like the bonus 1d6 - fall somewhere in that range (and can obviously also be scaled so as to occupy several points).

At this stage I'd think that kind of high-level design work most profitable. A point of concern in detail is where rules overlie one another, such as orcs having two sources for resistance to fear, or a thief path ability being overwritten by an origin ability. And there needs to be rationalisation, such as where one race gains +5' speed while another has speed 35', or one race counts as one step larger (which might synergise with magic) while another counts as Large (which might have an anti-synergy).

Regarding power-creep, it seems somewhat inevitable. I think there's an implication of replacement - you use this material wholesale OR the PHB, not both - such as where Backgrounds have the same name and many of the same implications while also picking up part of the racial ability modifier (assuming the intent isn't just to hand out an ASI). If so then there should be - probably - care to ensure balance across the new material: which would need the tables I mention above.


My thoughts.

Even though I like the idea of moving the stat bonuses from the ancestry to the background, I see some potential problems as suddenly characters end up being pidgeonholed into specific backgrounds when making MAD classes... it's the same problem we had with races all over again, except now with backgrounds.

Also, the Noble giving +1 Str bonus seems like a misprint (or maybe a typo?). At least to me, being a noble implies either having a good education ( Int ) or well mannered/diplomatic aspirations ( Cha ). One could say, however, that nobles could be good at anything...

Which brings me to the idea that "social status" backgrounds should offer open bonuses. Since both Noble and Urchin covers a much bigger scope than all other backgrounds (and they are both the most popular background choices among all others), I'd make them both as +1 to two different stats of the player's choice. Real world shows, and we all know, it's actually the Noble that should be made like that, but since they are effectively two sides of the same coin, you shouldn't give it to one and not the other.

On another note, I found the write up for origins/ancestry/heritage (or whatever you wanna call it) way too long, with way too many options. Even though having options is good, I wonder how many new players that just wants to play a "regular human" would simply give up upon seeing that, getting overwhelmed by the amount of options... Look at the dragonborn, do you really need that much stuff in there?

Consider making a "default" option for each heritage.

Anyways, that's a great start! Keep'em coming!

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
Some ideas:


  • Pack tactic is really strong as a trait, I could be changed for something a little less powerful.
  • I think reducing the draconic origin to chromatic + metallic + sea should be enough, no need to have 20 different dragons.


- I would like if Ruined Dwarves had a magic trait to represent the old remnants of magic used by dwarves to protect their hoard, using what little they remember to protect the few things they still own. This would be a nice throwback to the Hobbit where the dwarves find and hide for latter the hoard of the trolls.

Something like Alarm/Knock/Arcane Lock as rituals.

- The Hill dwarves as merchants extraordinaire would probably benefit on advantage on checks to identify and appraise items.

  • I would rather have eladrin proficient with longsword and longspears/pike as a nod to 4e.
  • Like the dragonborns, keeping the Aspect to Seasons + Star court + Shadow court, should be enough.

Gnomes and Haflings are really cool, I'd suggest giving a small darkvision to the Tunnel Runner halfling.
- I still think that the twillight touched origin gift and culture make more sense for gnome, since they are the incarnation of small fey-touched race, or for elves, for the players of Exandria's pallid elves or LotR Galadriel's pure white mystical-ness.

oh, and it would seem halflings do not get a origin paragon gift?

  • I do think the language in some part can be a little more positive: the orcs benefited from a good cleansing of their lore, no need to swipe it in another origin's yard.
  • I think the wordiness of the culture's descriptions shows hard in the human section of the document: its a thing with most description, but I dont think an advanced system need 1/2 a page to describe a village life, especially when every features of the culture justify and explain the lore behind said feature.

Big fan of orcs!
- I think a with a little twist, it could cover the goblinoids quite well.

- I think, since you are already going with the idea that Aasimars are celestial tieflings, the Origin should be called Planetouched and have gift for infernal and abyssal tieflings and aasimars, but also genasi.
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Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Going back for a reread instead of thinking back to the skim when I saw his post I think your probably right in that they are very interesting & did well to break the FR mold but the first paragraph in orc culture really sticks. Having fought hard to break players of their FR-orc all orcs are evil beliefs & push eberron style orcs in my eberron games over the years that paragraph is what will stick. It's like describing germans as a warlike people who excel in warfare before describing modern day german life because it applied well in 70bce. Maybe also instead of bringing up how they are easily rallied to a warband & such flip the narrative there & go into how the orc artisans/scholars/etc look on in sadness or try to speak reason to their neighbors even if those attempts at restraining the fury of crowds ultimately fail in tragic ways?
Wouldn't that be forcing the narrative to focus on the minority of peaceful, artistic orcs, while still saying that violence is a major part of their lives? If you want different kinds of orcs, don't focus on one type; give equal narrative weight to all of them.

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