D&D 5E What Are Ladders and How Do You Use Them (Ultramodern5).

Dias Ex Machina

Publisher / Game Designer
There's always been some confusion regarding this new mechanic we offered in Ultramodern5.

Ultramodern5, A 5E Universal Sci-Fi Sourcebook + Campaigns & Adventures

In traditional 5th Edition rules, classes represent defined fantasy archetypes. The type of story that Ultramodern5 seeks to emulate calls for characters defined less by their role and more by their background and talents. Therefore, a character’s capabilities are derived from two sources: a ladder that determines their general traits, outlook and disposition, and a class that defines their vocational abilities.

You choose a ladder at character generation, gaining an initial level 1 ability. You can neither change your ladder nor multi-class into another ladder. There are no prerequisites for ladders, but having high values in the ladder’s key abilities will certainly help. When you reach a level where you can select either an ability score improvement or a feat, you can gain an ability from your ladder instead.

Unlike classes, which fill specific roles, ladders are based on what you are and how you live your life. These include various mental and physical disciplines as well as natural talents. Although some classes and ladders obviously complement each other, any ladder can be combined with any class. Ladders are generic in their benefits.
In essence, ladders are a collection of similarly themed feats with an additional benefit when selected at 1st level. You do not have to select the ladder's additional features at their listed levels if you would instead gain the standard ability score increase or a different feat. However, all ladder features must be taken in order. You can't skip a feature if you want a later one, and not choosing all the features prevents you from being able to achieve the apex of the ladder.

Most ladder features include an ability score increase, so there is little incentive not to take them. Unlike classes, which fill specific roles, ladders are based
on what you are and how you live your life. These include various mental and physical disciplines as well as natural talents. Although some classes and ladders obviously complement each other, any ladder can be combined with any class.

Ladders are an optional system. The GM may choose to use them or not. If they are included, however, all players should choose one to avoid imbalance.

Ladders help account for the lack of magic in most nonfantasy settings. Although weapons and armor may provide additional properties, almost none in Ultramodern5 offer significant bonuses to attack or damage, and since modern games don’t always feature incrementally better gear throughout a campaign, you can carry the same equipment for the entirety of your character’s life.

If your campaign features magic items or sudden jumps in technological advancement, ladder gains could be ignored. If you choose to use them anyway, treat each bonus as an attuned magic item, which must be relinquished (and later reattuned if you want it back) to benefit from a comparable item bonus.

The 1st level ability you always gain generally offers alternative ability score use. For example...

JUGGERNAUT
Beginning when you choose this ladder at 1st level, you can use Strength in place of Dexterity for all attack and damage rolls with ranged and thrown weapons and when setting save DCs. Alternately, when wielding two-handed small arms, heavy weapons, or super heavy weapons, you can use Constitution in place of Dexterity for all attack and damage rolls. Select either Constitution or Strength as your primary juggernaut ability.

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