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Level Up (A5E) What are we doing with fatigue and strife?

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Fatigue and strife are constantly evolving as we playtest them. I wanted to share the current status of them, but with the caveat that they may not stay like this. That said, those who are familiar with our journey and combat rules are welcome to comment on them. Our goals are to make them a more common part of the game, and also to soften them a little from the exhaustion of O5E, which we feel is too debilitating too quickly.

Note that without the context of the journey and combat rules, it will be hard to judge these.

Tracked Conditions​

Various challenges, obstacles, and magics can lead to either fatigue or strife. An effect can give a creature one or more levels of fatigue or strife (detailed in the effect's description).

If a creature suffering from fatigue or strife fails to resist another effect that causes a level of the tracked condition, its current level increases by the amount specified in the effect's description.

A creature suffers the effect of its current level in a tracked condition as well as all lower levels. For example, a creature suffering level 3 fatigue has its speed halved, and makes Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution checks with disadvantage.

An effect that removes a tracked condition reduces its level as specified in the effect's description, with all tracked condition effects ending when a creature's condition level is reduced below 1.

Finishing a long rest at a safe haven reduces a creature's fatigue and strife levels by 1, provided that the creature has also had Supply to get the most from its rest. A creature does not require a haven to recover from the first level of fatigue or strife, but does still require a long rest. Also, being raised from the dead reduces all of a creature’s tracked conditions by 1.

Fatigue​

The ranger finally reached the walled town, and staggered through the gates. The villagers gasped at the sight, for she was clearly starving, covered in dozens of minor wounds, and on the edge of collapse. Friendly hands reached out to offer her food and rest.

Keeping a breakneck pace while journeying, feats of great athleticism, and fell magics that sap away life force can wear down upon the body and cause fatigue. Fatigue represents exhaustion, exposure, hunger, injuries, and other physical factors which gradually wear a creature down. A creature which reaches the 7th level of the fatigue track dies.

Table: Fatigue
Level Effects

1 Cannot sprint
2 Disadvantage on Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution checks
3 Speed halved and unable to maintain a fast travel pace
4 Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws using Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution, and unable to maintain a normal travel pace
5 Hit dice halved
6 Speed reduced to 5 ft. and unable to maintain a slow travel pace
7 Doomed

Strife​

The halflings pushed on, the weight of the archlich Azkaroth’s presence weighing on their spirits as they trudged across the desolate landscape towards the dark lord’s lair. Each of them could feel the lich’s will tugging at their minds, and it took every ounce of courage they had to put one foot in front of the other.

Intense study of potent arcana, truly rigorous intellectual challenges, and psychically demanding magics can increase one’s strife. Strife represents corruption, despair, fear, resolve, and other mental factors which gradually undo a creature’s very soul. A creature which reaches the 7th level of the strife track suffers a special, permanent effect, which is either randomly selected or decided by the Narrator. This might involve the creature shutting down completely, or be impacted in such a way that it is forever changed.

Table: Strife
Level Effects

1 Cannot concentrate
2 Disadvantage on Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma checks
3 Can only take a bonus action or action each turn (not both)
4 Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws using Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma
5 Suffer the effects of a randomly determined short-term mental stress effect (page @@).
6 Cannot cast spells (but can cast cantrips)
7 Suffer the effects of a randomly determined long-term mental stress effect (page @@).
 
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Faolyn

Hero
So what does it mean, Hit Dice halved? In terms of being able to spend them to regain hp?

Being unable to concentrate is a bigger detriment to casters than being unable to take bonus actions. I suggest swapping 1 and 3 on strife.
Or perhaps have disad on concentration checks instead of being completely unable.

Although there are a few maneuvers that require concentration. But yes, it's pretty severe.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
This sincerely looks great, to me!

I think Concentration is a better choice for the Tier 1 of Strife. Concentration effects are nice, and in the right situations can be quite powerful, but bonus actions are far more plentiful, and it's comparative Fatigue is "Cannot Sprint".

I don't feel like "half action economy" is really comparable, there.
 
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TheHand

Explorer
I'm intrigued by this concept! I used to use a kind of similar house-ruled fatigue mechanic back in ye olden days of editions past.

I think my table would prefer something a little less lethal, though, particularly when it came to Fatigue; even if not officially changed I would probably houserule the "Doomed" condition on Fatigue to "Pass Out until your next Long Rest".

I also wonder if Constitution factor in at all with Fatigue (perhaps in how it's applied?)
 

Stalker0

Legend
My quick and dirty (my commentary next to each piece)

Table: Fatigue
Level Effects

1 Cannot sprint (solid, provides some penalty but for the most part can be forgotten in many circumstances, a nice gateway)

2 Disadvantage on Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution checks (initiative and athletics checks are likely going to be your main penalties here, again clearly a penalty but nothing in "too bad category" yet, this also seems fine)

3 Speed halved and unable to maintain a fast travel pace (the trick with speed is for some classes its essential, and others could be an afterthought. I would go with unable to dash, and maybe some other penalty like it takes all your speed to stand up from prone or something)

4 Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws using Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution, and unable to maintain a normal travel pace (so this is the "I am screwed" level of fatigue, aka the level where you should seriously consider if more adventuring right now is the right course. It feels appropriately penalizing, and will have a good amount of penalty to pretty much all characters)

5 Hit dice halved (a bit unclear here. Is it the total number of hitdice is halved, is it the healing from them...heck some people could interpret it as the hit dice of your hitpoints are dropped by half. So some clarity needed there. I think you mean the total number of hit dice.... personally my issue with that is depending on when you get this level it could be a severe drop or it could nothing at all. I would instead recommend apply a penalty on your hit dice healing. Example: -2 to all of your hit dice rolls (minimum 0)

6 Speed reduced to 5 ft. and unable to maintain a slow travel pace
(this is a key philosophical question for how you want level up to be... do I want it gritty or heroic. Right now you have set it to gritty, a lot of characters are going to be nigh useless at this level, and basically will need to be in a wagon while everyone else does the fighting. The opposite of this would be heroic, where you actually keep the penalty smaller....with the knowledge that the real penalty is that a character can take just 1 level of fatigue and drop dead....so the player is putting their life on the line by continued adventuring.

I personally prefer the latter, but I can accept the former....but this level really does define some of the style of your game, so choose wisely. If you want more heroic, maybe something like "enemies get advantage to attack you" or something like that. Again, your playing dangerous....but at least your playing, not laid out in bed.)


Table: Strife
Level Effects

1 Cannot concentrate (compared to fatigue this is a MUCH BIGGER penalty...and extremely targeted at spellcasters. If this prevent manuevers too than maybe, but it feels like your picking on segment of your classes right out of the gate....that seems harsh)

2 Disadvantage on Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma checks (perfectly fine)

3 Can only take a bonus action or action each turn (a strong penalty but a fair one that is going to affect a lot of classes. This is the "oh crap I really have strife" level).

4 Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws using Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma (a little weaker than Fatigue's 4th because you have only one "key" save on this one....but considering the pain of level 3 strife I think its fine).

5 Suffer the effects of a randomly determined short-term mental stress effect (page @@)

6 Cannot cast spells (but can cast cantrips) - So again feels very focused on spellcasters, I mean fighters can get strife too right....so they just don't care for the most part? If this was maneuvers as well, ok now most everyone cares, or maybe rest type abilities.

7 Suffer the effects of a randomly determined long-term mental stress effect (page @@).
 

Horwath

Hero
I like very much the split of exhaustion to fatigue&strife, one representing the body wear and tear on other damaging mind/spirit.

But it still has the same "binary" problem that exhaustion has. it's too much to go from normal skills to disadvantage or from can cast spell to cannot cast spells with one level difference.


In out last campaign we ditched the binary effect of exhaustion and went with slow -1 per level for all attacks/saves/checks, -1 max HP per exhaustion level(min of 1 HP per level/HD), -5 speed per level(min of 5ft speed) and -1 to all your DC's per level.

this should ofc be split in A5E to fatigue, penalty on all STR,DEX and CON mechanics plus speed and HPs
and strife; penalty on ALL INT, WIS and CHA mechanics.


with progressive penalty to speed, there is no need to ban Dash or Sprint actions, they will get worse and worse with reduced base speed.

Same with spells, 6 levels of strife will practically negate all offensive power of spellcaster, -6 to DC and spell attacks/dispel checks.
But it still leaves casters with option to focus on beneficial spells as a fallback.


-1 per level mechanics might feel boring, but it describes slow decay of body/mind more accurately than going from 100% to near incompetent in certain areas with only one level of fatigue added.

Also, with removing disadvantage from fatigue/strife, characters are still rewarded for gaining advantage and avoiding disadvantage at various circumstances.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
1 Cannot concentrate (compared to fatigue this is a MUCH BIGGER penalty...and extremely targeted at spellcasters. If this prevent manuevers too than maybe, but it feels like your picking on segment of your classes right out of the gate....that seems harsh)
I think that's a fair comment; I feel like fatigue would be more of a problem for martial characters and strife more of a problem for spellcasters. The question is whether that's a good thing or a bad thing?
 

I think that's a fair comment; I feel like fatigue would be more of a problem for martial characters and strife more of a problem for spellcasters. The question is whether that's a good thing or a bad thing?

How often do monsters & other things impose fatigue/strife? The gut strike & unparalleled under heaven maneuver can impose a level of fatigue on the target/user as can being crit, dropping to 0, & fiery environments. I didn't see mention of it in berserker/fighter/rogue playtest packets with ctrlf. Either way one level of fatigue is cannot sprint while 1 level of strife is cannot cast a significant plurality if not majority of o5e spells. The spells summary packet doesn't mention concentration though & I'm not sure if we've heard anything about changes there, but cannot concentrate is probably on par with cannot use heavy finesse or ranged weapons in how extreme it is unless big changes to concentration are in the pipe.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
These numbers are from all WotC Published materials

25% of level 1 Wizard Spells have Concentration
60% of level 2 Wizard Spells have Concentration
52% of level 3 Wizard Spells have Concentration
65% of level 4 Wizard Spells have Concentration
60% of level 5 Wizard Spells have Concentration
51% of level 6 Wizard Spells have Concentration
20% of level 7 Wizard Spells have Concentration
40% of level 8 Wizard Spells have Concentration
40% of level 9 Wizard Spells have Concentration

Worth noting the two following important pieces of information:

1) Where you see Concentration Spells jump ahead of non-concentration spells really hard are the levels where you have 3-5 spells that do the exact same thing with a different flavor. Like the "Investiture of (Element)" spells or "Summon Aberration/Construct/Elemental/Demon"

2) You can still -cast- a spell which requires Concentration while you have Strife. You just can't -maintain- that concentration across multiple rounds.

So even if you've got Strife you can conjure up a Bigby's Hand and immediately command it to push the Ogre off the cliff. You just can't -keep- the Bigby's Hand the next turn.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Casting a concentration spell requires concentration.

As people have noted, the problem with most of these is that it is a step where it doesn't matter, and a step where you are useless.

---

Fatigue: Your Fatigue is represented by a die. The first time you are Fatigued, it is a 1d4, and each time you get additional Fatigue it grows in size to 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12 then 1d20. If you gain Fatigue when you are at 1d20, you die.

Whenever you make a Strength, Dexterity or Constitution save, attribute check or attack roll, you roll your Fatigue die as a penalty.

In addition, you suffer these penalties:

1d4: You cannot disengage or dash, and your speed is reduced by 5'
1d6: You do not add your attribute bonus to your damage rolls (unless it is negative), and your speed is reduced by 10'
1d8: Your HD maximum is halved (round down) (if you have mixed HD, you lose the larger ones first), and your speed is reduced by 15'
1d10: Creatures who attack you add your Fatigue die to their attack rolls, and your speed is reduced by 20'
1d12: Your HP maximum is halved, and your speed is reduced by 30'.
1d20: You suffer a perminant injury whenever you take a critical hit, or make a strength/dexterity/constitution check, saving throw or attack whose result is less than 0, and your speed is 5'.

The reduction in speed above cannot result in your speed being slower than 5'.

Strife: Your Strife is represented by a die. The first time you are Strife, it is a 1d4, and each time you get additional Strife it grows in size to 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12 then 1d20. If you gain Strife when you are at 1d20, you become incapacitated.

Whenever you make a Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma save, attribute check or attack roll, you roll your Strife die as a penalty.

In addition, you suffer these penalties:

1d4: You have disadvantage on concentration saves
1d6: Creatures who make a saving throw against an effect you impose may roll your Strife die as a bonus to their saving throw.
1d8: You can only take a bonus action or an action on your turn, not both.
1d10: You suffer the effects of a random short-term stress effect.
1d12: Whenever you take an action, there is a 50% chance it simply fails (if it was a spell, the slot is lost).
1d20: You gain a major long-term stress effect.

---

This makes Fatigue/Strife more continuous. And you can still have gatekeeper penalties at various steps, but it doesn't rely on them to provide the meat of the malus.

The Fatigue is biased towards martial, and the Strife towards casters in the penalties.

The 1d4 level (no dash/disengage, and 5' of movement lost vs concentration save penalty) is relatively minor but situationally annoying.

1d6 Fatigue penalty harms martials more than casters (they add their attribute to damage more often). The 1d6 Strike harms casters more than martials (but note, a maneuver based save is also penalized).

By 1d8 the 15' movement penalty is starting to really hurt. Losing half of your HD is a pain, as is the action economy squeeze on strife.

1d10 tanks your AC with Fatigue and you are quite slow at 20' movement penalty. On the Strife side, you get a problem from the table.

For 1d12, your speed is probably 5' unless you have movement speed boosters on Fatigue side, and your HP are now crappy. For the Strife, you are literally half as effective at doing anything.

1d20 starts applying permanent damage that you'll keep even if you rest up afterwards. For Fatigue, you are so tired doing anything risks breaking a bone. For Stress, you immediately suffer a long-term stress effect (ideally related to the source of the stress).

Then past 1d20, you die or are incapacitated (go catatonic).
 
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TheHand

Explorer
(this is a key philosophical question for how you want level up to be... do I want it gritty or heroic.

Quoting this for emphasis. I'm also in the camp that would prefer a heroic-take over gritty (I've done enough gritty in my past, heck I even played Rolemaster at one point...). Gritty-tone wouldn't be a deal breaker for me, but I'd much prefer if the rules presented variants to allow for a deadly flavor vs. a more heroic tone.

In out last campaign we ditched the binary effect of exhaustion and went with slow -1 per level for all attacks/saves/checks,

I like that idea quite a bit, it's quite elegant and easy to remember.

In a past campaign (in a previous D&D edition), our house-rule Fatigue system was also designed to be easy and a gradually rising nuisance. Everytime you rolled a strenuous d20 check (attack roll usually), if your natural die was equal or lower to your Fatigue you then experienced a Fumble (with a wacky Fumble chart). Once you accumulated more Fatigue than half your Con score, you took severe exhaustion penalties, then 1 more fatigue after that and you passed out. (I'm not suggesting Level-Up use anything like this, just throwing it out there for a different perspective on a similar concept).
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Quoting this for emphasis. I'm also in the camp that would prefer a heroic-take over gritty (I've done enough gritty in my past, heck I even played Rolemaster at one point...). Gritty-tone wouldn't be a deal breaker for me, but I'd much prefer if the rules presented variants to allow for a deadly flavor vs. a more heroic tone.
The goal is less punitive than exhaustion in O5E, so yes, heroic is the target, not gritty. We've increased the number of steps by adding a gateway step, and softened many of the steps.

The concentration item is an excellent point -- and why we put this stuff out there -- and I'm pretty sure it's already being changed to disadvantage on concentration checks.
 

Faolyn

Hero
I think that's a fair comment; I feel like fatigue would be more of a problem for martial characters and strife more of a problem for spellcasters. The question is whether that's a good thing or a bad thing?
I think that will depend on those mental stress effects.
 

The goal is less punitive than exhaustion in O5E, so yes, heroic is the target, not gritty. We've increased the number of steps by adding a gateway step, and softened many of the steps.

The concentration item is an excellent point -- and why we put this stuff out there -- and I'm pretty sure it's already being changed to disadvantage on concentration checks.
Changing it to check dc=damage taken might be more interesting since it's still going to basically always be dc10 until the damage is so extreme that "omg I'm in fear for my lie screw the spell" levels of damage are being thrown out. dc=damage taken might be less but will often be more & will add a tension point of dramatic anxiety to both the damage as well as the concentration check when that level of strife is in play.
 

rules.mechanic

Craft homebrewer
Strife: Your Strife is represented by a die. The first time you are Strife, it is a 1d4, and each time you get additional Strife it grows in size to 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12 then 1d20.
I love the idea of an exhaustion die :)

My groups recently switched over to Horwath's clever system when I saw it here previously:
In out last campaign we ditched the binary effect of exhaustion and went with slow -1 per level for all attacks/saves/checks, -1 max HP per exhaustion level(min of 1 HP per level/HD), -5 speed per level(min of 5ft speed) and -1 to all your DC's per level.

But I like the idea of doing that with an exhaustion die! d4->d6->d8->d10->d12->d20->doomed) which you subtract from your attacks, saves, checks, damage rolls, DCs & speed. When you gain a level of exhaustion/strife/fatigue, lose a hit die if you have one.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
I'm curious.....how many things cause fatigue or strife? If not many, I'd keep the rules simple, as they get used infrequently they are hard to recall. If often, I'd make them more interesting (like the die above). However, one thing 5e has taught us is the simple is good for attracting players (I think it has taught us that).....personally, I would love the die mechanic above, but I can see others will think it is too fiddly and a simple table like you have is better.
 

Stalker0

Legend
The goal is less punitive than exhaustion in O5E, so yes, heroic is the target, not gritty.
So another way to frame this is...you want the players to feel "scared" not "incompetent".

So you focus on defensive penalties rather than offensive ones....let the players remain "badass" but increasing the tension because they steadily lose the ability to defend themselves. Penalties to their saving throws is a good one, as that makes enemy attacks more frightening (similar to enemies have advantage against you, or maybe a simple AC penalty). A reduction in hitpoints is another.... maybe at the highest levels of fatigue they are vulnerable to all damage.... which I think is scarier than half hitpoints because the damage number just look so high.

Instead of penalties to speed, make it "unable to disengage or take the dodge action".... which again adds tension because it removes defensive options for the players.

Disadvantage on death saving throws
All movement provokes OAs
Enemies crit on a 19-20
Ongoing damage is doubled
etc

Or if you want to go with the more progressive style some have suggested, could be a simple: "Each level of fatigue is -1 AC and saving throws"
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
So another way to frame this is...you want the players to feel "scared" not "incompetent".

So you focus on defensive penalties rather than offensive ones....let the players remain "badass" but increasing the tension because they steadily lose the ability to defend themselves. Penalties to their saving throws is a good one, as that makes enemy attacks more frightening (similar to enemies have advantage against you, or maybe a simple AC penalty). A reduction in hitpoints is another.... maybe at the highest levels of fatigue they are vulnerable to all damage.... which I think is scarier than half hitpoints because the damage number just look so high.

Instead of penalties to speed, make it "unable to disengage or take the dodge action".... which again adds tension because it removes defensive options for the players.

Disadvantage on death saving throws
All movement provokes OAs
Enemies crit on a 19-20
Ongoing damage is doubled
etc

Or if you want to go with the more progressive style some have suggested, could be a simple: "Each level of fatigue is -1 AC and saving throws"
All true, but you also need to avoid a death spiral.....
 

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