Rules for playing D&D 5E in an Avatar Universe

So, I'm a huge Avatar fan. Reading the books now (about Kiyoshi), watched the show, love the comics, etc. Been thinking about how to do D&D Avatar. Came to a different conclusion than what most would expect (which would be a sub-class or new classes etc).


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RULES FOR AVATAR-THEMED D&D GAMES

LEVEL CAP

The max level you may reach is 10th-level.

Note: This is basically because 6th-level+ spells don't really work in Avatar. Most games end around 10th-level anyway.


ELEMENTAL BENDING

You are a human who comes from one of four cultural backgrounds: the Fire Nation, Air Nomads, Water Tribes, or the Earth Kingdom. Your choice impacts the following:

  • Supernatural abilities that you have (Barbarian rage, Ranger's Primeval Awareness, Spellcasting) have their fluff dictated by your culture. A Water Tribe Warlock's eldritch blast could be an icicle; an Earth Kingdom Paladin's Smite is an overwhelming amount of Earth striking the target.
  • Corresponding with the list of cultures above, you know one of the following cantrips: Control Flames, Gust, Shape Water, Mold Earth.
  • You can change the damage type of non-weapon damage to the element corresponding to your culture: Fire, Thunder, Cold, or Force.

Note: This may seem difficult with more esoteric spells, but its possible! If you're from the Earth Kingdom and you learn hypnotic pattern, take inspiration from the Dai Li and their hypnosis!



ADVANCED BENDING FEATS

At 8th level, you can choose one of the following feats so long as you meet the prerequisites.

LIGHTNING GENERATION

Prerequisite: Born to the Fire Nation

You gain the following benefits:

  • You can cast lightning bolt a number of times per long rest equal to your proficiency bonus. Charisma is your spellcasting ability modifier for this spell. This spell only requires somatic components.
  • You can change the damage type of non-weapon damage you roll to lightning.
  • You are resistant to lightning damage.

SPIRIT BENDING

Prerequisite: Born to the Air Nomads

You gain the following benefits:

  • You can cast counterspell a number of times per long rest equal to your proficiency bonus. This spell only requires somatic components.
  • When you roll a critical hit with a melee weapon attack, your target creature must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC = 8 + your Wisdom modifier + your Proficiency bonus. On a failure, the target creature cannot cast spells or use magical abilities for 1 minute. At the end of each turn, the creature can make another Constitution saving throw, ending this effect immediately on a success.

BLOOD BENDING

Prerequisite: Born to the Water Kingdom

You gain the following benefits:

  • You can cast the spell dominate person once per long rest. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability modifier for this spell. This spell only requires somatic components.
  • You can cast the spell crown of madness a number of times per long rest equal to your proficiency score bonus. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability modifier for this spell. This spell only requires somatic components.

METAL BENDING

Prerequisite: Born to the Earth Kingdom

You gain the following benefits:

  • When in physical contact with a non-magical object made out of metal, you can freely change the object's shape so long as the object does not increase in size.
  • Weapon attacks using metal weapons deal an additional amount of damage equal to your Wisdom ability modifier.
  • When wearing metal armor, your AC increases by your Wisdom ability modifier.
The Last Airbender GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY



BENDING GIFTS

When you create your character, choose one of the Bending Gifts below. These represent something special about your character that makes them unique in the world. In order to choose a gift, you must meet its prerequisite.

AVATAR

You are the avatar, and thus have the capability of learning all four elements. You gain the following benefits:

  • You can change the damage of non-magical weapon attacks to: Fire, Thunder, Cold, or Force.
  • You can learn any culture's Advanced Bending Feat.
  • When you fall to 0 hit points, you enter into the Avatar State - a powerful state of being where you channel the cosmic energy of the entire universe. For a number of turns equal to your Proficiency bonus you are not unconscious, do not make death saving throws, and add your Wisdom ability modifier to all damage rolls you make.

BLIND BENDER

Prerequisite: Born to Earth Kingdom

You permanently suffer the blind condition. However, you have blindsense up to 60 feet, increasing to 120 feet at level 5.

BLUE FLAMES

Prerequisite: Born to Fire Nation

You produce rich, blue flames when you firebend. When rolling fire damage, you can reroll any 1s or 2s, but you must keep the rerolled number.

CLOUD MANIPULATION

Prerequisite: Born to Air Nomads

You have learned to manipulate clouds. You can cast the spell fog cloud a number of times per day equal to your proficiency bonus. Additionally, you can stand on clouds, vapor, and air as if it were solid ground.

COMBUSTION BENDING

Prerequisite: Born to the Fire Nation

Through years of training, you have learned to combust objects with a ray of heat produced from your forehead. As an action, you can make a spell attack with Wisdom as your spellcasting modifier. This attack has a range of 60 feet and deals 1d12 + your Wisdom ability modifier fire damage. This damage increases by 1d12 at 5th and 9th levels.

MINERAL IMMORTALITY

Prerequisite: Born to Earth Kingdom

Through years of training, you have learned to bend the minerals in your own body, decreasing your rate of aging. You age x10 slower than a normal human being. Additionally, your hit points increase by an additional +1 when you gain more hitpoints, and you have advantage on saving throws against paralysis, petrification, and stuns.


Toph Bei Fong GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY
My favorite character btw

PLANT BENDING

Prerequisite: Born to Water Tribe

You can manipulate the water in plants for the purposes of your waterbending. As a bonus action, you can gather nearby plant life towards you for one of three uses:

  • Arm Vines - Your reach for melee attacks and grapples increases from 5 to 30 feet.
  • Swamp Giant - You gather plants around you, creating a giant for you to pilot. Your size increases to large, gain proficiency in unarmed strikes, and your unarmed strikes do 2d10 + your Wisdom modifier in damage.

SUBTLE WIND

Prerequisite: Born to Air Nomads

You have a high level of sensitivity with to changes in air currents. Your passive Perception increases by +5 and you do not suffer disadvantage when fighting or tracking invisible or hidden creatures.

WATER HEALING LEGEND

Prerequisites: Born to Water Tribe

Your ability to heal with water far surpasses anyone elses. When you cast a spell or use an affect that would restore someone else's hit points, add double your Wisdom modifier to the total number of hit points rolled.

 


Provenents are the Pillars of Creation in a Fey-Bloomed World

Before the Fey-Bloom, humanity lived at the behest of the Provenents - those Pillars upon which the world is worked. It was not a relationship between men and gods or men and rulers; the Provenents do not trade, barter, accept worship or sacrifice, make requests or enforce demands. They flow, they appear, and humanity works off the leftover fruit of their operation. 

Primordial Crimson
Zifeng Ye
A Fast built in an area where a Provenent holds influence.


These are not World Spirits; these are not Elementals. Provenents may have created the world or they may have been created by it. They may be immortal or they may obey a life cycle that denies anything else the human mind could imagine. Provenents Bloom not; the Fey can neither control nor destroy them. There is a response to the Bloom, though, seen in how a Provenent's area of influence shrinks, expands, or otherwise morphs. There is not enough gathered knowledge yet to create any rhyme or reason for what this means.

Of these Provenents are we aware and more in places I do not know.

Provenent of the Waterfall, that capricious woman whose hands sweep away all manners of landmark; whose flood-feet flood towns in a way not so different from how a fish flops out of water or how trees shake in the wind. If she bleeds she bleeds over mountains, through the carvings of valleys and into the ravines where she pools in rest for a while then floods out again in a erosion of stone and a sexual gifting of forest to land.

Find her in the East, where you seek:
  1. A fountain of youth made from one of the Provenent's breasts.
  2. Memories lost or forgotten by those who have drowned or who have cast their sins into water.
  3. To attract the Provenent's attention to a Fey-Bloomed castle out of hopes of her flooding it.
  4. Secret cave-groves hidden by the Provenent's sprawled, sleeping body.

Provenent of the Sunset, they who know that sleeping is dying and is creation and is heat and is cold: whose wings flash out with a million feathers, each feather the color of sherbet or cotton candy or chocolate or blood; who lives where the horizon is open and not closed and where the moon has risen five hand-lengths above the edge of the world whilst the sun sinks half below. Day has ended and morning will come and there is a promise to those Fasts built too far away that night will last forever and a day and something wicked will not fail to come this way.

Find them in the North and the West, where you seek:
  1. Burning, bladed feathers that brings an end to curses, Blooms, and schemes.
  2. The liquid youth of the moon that inspires madness just as much as it does innovation.
  3. A branch burning with the era-ending flame of the sunset.
  4. A sanctuary where those soon to die can eternally live unchanging.

Provenent of the Tarpit, this man who in his passiveness has become cruel in a way no others have. There is nothing so stoic in all this world, never moving, never resting, never waking; bubbling and drooping and dripping and sinking and in that sinking pulling into him all those things who seek to find what mysteries may have been lost in the dark or the desolate places where nothing is kind. Fasts swimming in asphalt are reached by no danger . Nothing that Blooms can find its way out of the tar; nothing that has no bones will ever know the destiny that is escape.

Find him in the South, where you seek:
  1. The remains of some great creature that has use yet.
  2. To lead a predator hunting after you to their demise.
  3. A place where even the most powerful of artifacts or tools can be destroyed.
  4. A fast where outlaws and destitute do gather.
Provenent of the Rainbow, o' singing child, singing child whose songs are light and not sound and are sung when sitting and sung when dancing both of which happen at once and happen when the storm comes through with chickenscratch lightning and wild bolts mindless in their wroth and winds and gales and tornadoes pregnant with rain and hail that goes a'falling and comes a'blowing. Pristine upon the cliff the child. Never seen save on the curve of the bow and at night there is a twin or perhaps the same child but silver and grey and black and white and here there is tell of evil omens and omens of curses to come.

Find them in the East and the West, where you seek:
  1. A prophecy pertaining to dangers to come on your journey.
  2. The chance to dance with the Provenent and thus be exorcised of all curses and Blooms.
  3. Where great chaos churns and thrives and thus where you can be tested and polished.
  4. Liquid golden luck which pools where the Provenent does sing.
Dawn of anxiety
Anna Marek
Perhaps the Provenent of the Sunset?

5E Sublime - Ideas, Construction

Runehammer released a hack of D&D lately called 5E: HARDCORE MODE. Its very interesting, bridging old school ideas with the more new school styles of play, but still firmly in something brutal, realistic, and traditional. Much of what it does adds a lot of difficulty back into D&D out of hopes that games will lean towards quests to overcome challenges instead of always resorting to raw combat. I won't go into deep detail about how, though some methods of how it does this is: capping players at 10, keeping HP low, streamlining CR, and expecting players to confront things hyper-lethal to them without preparation/research done.

I want to use this as a model to create my own version of D&D (as everyone else has) using some of my work on Rising Legends while also moving in a completely new direction. I also want to draw on my old Saga Style stuff too. The main thing I want, however, is to keep 5E's sub-classes. Sub-classes are, for me, the thing that honestly keeps me playing 5E; I like ever more precise, specific character concepts - which, I know, is kind of heretical to people who usually "trim the fat" from D&D. On top of this, I want to use my own created spellbooks (which I plan to make more of soon) for this. Magic is the reason I play Fantasy; watching how the Weird changes the Normal is the kind of art I'm usually interested in making.

So with those steps outlined, let's look at what I am thinking so far.
Candle
Piotr Foksowicz

5E Sublme is the working name I'm going for. The sublime, in a literary sense, is used to described scenes, characters, events, or stories that are greater than human in a way difficult to understand or comprehend. One never fully notices when they slip into the sublime, but they are always aware that something is sublime around them. Because something is sublime, they cannot escape or look away from it. Instead, they must work with it, enter it, or be destroyed by it.

The sublime is the core of what I like in RPGs. It doesn't have to be magical, it can just be intense humanity, crazy sci-fi concepts, etc. I'd like to think that something like Dungeon Crawl Classics is a pretty sublime game, or Troika!

I've mentioned that I'm using 5E HARDCORE MODE as my model for building this, so there's a few things I want to lift from it to keep. Those are:
  • How hit die + rests work.
  • How monsters + CR now works.
  • How initiative + skill/off skill works.
  • Respawning methods.
  • Level 10 cap.
  • Zones/Movement.
With that in mind, the following are concepts I plan to change/use for 5E Sublime.
  • Class features almost exclusively being sub-class features.
  • Different way of gaining experience.
  • Different way of casting spells.
  • Adding in an Explorer procedure.
  • Making use of 5E's Exhaustion system as a consequence system.
  • Additional survival tool (indomitable). 
Everything not covered by one of these two sets of changes is in the D&D Basic Rules (if you need it).

Saeed Farhangian

Classes are defined in 5E Sublime as methods in which you (the players) enter the world of the sublime. These are the things that make you something greater than human.

Each class comes as a duo-package. There is a version of it more focused on "tricks" and a version more focused on "combat." At 1st level, you gain a class feature. At every even level afterwards, you gain sub-class features. For your sub-class, find your favorite sub-class from that class in your 5E books and use it. If a sub-class grants multiple features at the same level, then you gain all of those features when you learn one of them. For example, if your Sorcerer sub-class learns two features at 6th level in core 5E, you would learn both of these at 4th level in 5E Sublime. If your sub-class wouldn't grant you 5 different levels of features in 5E Sublime, you would instead learn that classes 20th level capstone in core D&D at 10th level.

The Classes Are:
  • Cleric/Paladin - Entering the sublime through faith in a religion, power, creed, or oath.
  • Monk/Disciple - Entering the sublime through internal ki or psionic mutation.
  • Sorcerer/Artificer - Entering the sublime through being born afflicted with magic or knowing how to forge magic into tools.
  • Warlock/Hexer - Entering the sublime through strange pacts or drastic modifications of the self.
Note that all classes are mystical in some way, and that I don't add a thief class. Any of these can be thieves, and 5E Sublime is a game about exploring strange magics and how they effect people, societies, etc. As you progress, you'll get weirder and weirder, more and more sublime, until eventually you hit level 10 or otherwise die for good.

The Hexer uses Matt Mercer's Blood Hunter 2020 for its sub-class options. I changed the name to fit an aesthetic I prefer.

In the above class list, classes on the left side are considered Mystics, while those on the right side are considered Warlords. This is important to remember just for keeping up with stuff below.

Class progression is as thus:
  1. First class feature. Mystics start with 3 spells of a tradition. Warlords have a fighting style + 2 attacks.
  2. Sub-class feature(s).
  3. Mystics automatically learn 3 more spell of a known tradition. Warlords gain 1 Indomitable use.
  4. Sub-class feature(s).
  5. Mystics +3 spell of a tradition. Warlords +1 Indomitable use.
  6. Sub-class feature(s).
  7. M +3 spell of a tradition. W +1 Indomitable use.
  8. Sub-class feature(s).
  9. M +3 spell of a tradition. W +1 Indomitable use.
  10. Sub-class feature(s) OR (if not viable) class capstone feature.
A tradition is a tradition of spellcasting. This is the broad term given to spellbooks I've developed and have used so far. An example is my recent blogpost on the Plane of Lightning and the magical tradition that stems from it. Keep in note that Mystics can learn spells by finding them/being taught in addition to leveling up. Warlords can learn spells through the same means. Adventuring to learn new magic is one of the core reasons to adventure in 5E Sublime.

Indomitable is a feature taken from the core Fighter class . Once per rest, a Warlord class can dig deep into themselves to overcome a failed saving throw. I choose this as their special gain as I like the aesthetic of these kinds of characters somehow, through a method no one else can, just shaking off the effects of some supernatural hazard or other doom.

You gain a level through earning experience. Experience is earned by taking on sublime challenges. All things, from monsters to traps to riddles and puzzles, should have a CR attached to them. Using 5E HARDCORE's math, you get experience from something equal to CR x 200. All other 5E HARDCORE CR guidelines are in use, streamlining the numbers needed to overcome these challenges.

Mystics require the following experience to gain levels:
  1. 0
  2. 300
  3. 900
  4. 2300
  5. 6500
  6. 14,000
  7. 23,000
  8. 31,000
  9. 37,000
  10. 40,000
Warlords require the following experience to gain levels:
  1. 0
  2. 200
  3. 600
  4. 1800
  5. 4200
  6. 6000
  7. 11,000
  8. 18,000
  9. 24,000
  10. 30,000
As it takes longer to level, your Proficiency bonus increases a bit faster. Starting at +2, it increases by 1 every three levels after, to a maximum of +5.


White Woods
Irina Nordsol Kuzmina
Spells and magic items and weird shit are the core of the game. Finding this stuff is the real reward. Experience is for you to get more tools to find cooler stuff so that you can dig deeper into the sublime on your adventures.

All classes have spellcasting as an inherent feature. Manifesting a spell is rough on the body; thus, you can only cast as many spells as you have HD. Once you run out, you must finish a long rest to regain all uses. If you have a feature that uses spellslots, it instead uses one of your spell castings for the day. If you are out of spell slots, you can risk your life to cast a spell instead. Roll 2d6 + your Proficiency bonus. On a 10 or higher, you cast a spell. On a 9 or lower, you cast the spell but lose hit points = to the amount under 10. So, if you cast a spell with no castings left and roll a 5, you lose 5 hit points. The spell will cast, even if this kills you.

You can learn additional spells on an adventure through a number of ways. If you find a master, you can buy an education from them (either through favors, wealth, or magical items). If you find scrolls, you can decipher them and try to teach yourself (though if you ever use the scroll, note that it is destroyed in the casting!). Every tradition has its own guidelines for how long it takes to learn a spell through it. Once that time has passed, you have to make a check. The DC for the check is 15 + the Spell's level. The roll made is d20 + Proficiency bonus + Int or Wis or Cha modifier (determined by class). If you fail, something about you changes internally; you cannot attempt to relearn the spell for a year and a day after failing. 

Pilgrim
Tomas Osang Muir

Exhaustion is key! Exhaustion is my favorite mechanic in 5E and it has gone underutilized for too long!

Primarily, exhaustion is inflicted in 5E Sublime through new ways to add challenges to exploration.
  1. When a saving throw is failed against a trap or hazard, a player can elect to take 1 level of exhaustion instead of suffering damage.
  2. When a player fails their check to cast a spell without having any spellcastings left, they can elect to take 1 level of exhaustion instead of suffering damage.
  3. When a player suffers more than 10 damage from a single attack or effect, they can elect to take 1 level of exhaustion and halve the incoming damage.
  4. Some traps or hazards or other effects may simply just inflict exhaustion instead of other banes.
Exhaustion is removed in the standard ways; however, if a player rests for 20-24 hours at once (essentially a full day), they can remove all levels of exhaustion. This should be difficult to achieve! A player having a full day of rest is subject to the danger of being discovered, of dungeons or areas resetting, or of losing an opportunity to gain something important!

Thomas Scholes
Exploration feels bad to me in 5E. It took me a long time to finally say this but after years of playing the game, I absolutely hate exploration in it. This is because, unironically, time is so fluid normally that I'm not sure how to go about it in a standard game of 5E core. Below is my solution to this (after trying many, many, many different methods...)
  • Decide if you are either Crawling (IE in a dungeon or similar area) or Ranging (IE in open wilderness or a ship).
  • If Crawling, a round is 10 minutes. If Ranging, a round is 1 day.
  • When a round starts, explain everything they see. If a player's passive Perception beats the DC for finding something, they should automatically find that thing.
  • On every player's turn, ask them what they are doing. Do not resolve these actions yet. This should be stuff that achieves a single task, like finding clean water, hunting, preparing food, searching for possible places to camp, investigating, etc.
  • At the end of the round, have all players roll any ability checks needed and introduce any hazards, complications, or dangers. Everything happens at once for tension and adding weight to decisions.
  • If a hazard/complication/danger has appeared, resolve it before beginning the next Crawling/Ranging round.
  • When a new round starts, ask the players where they've moved (to a new hex or point, to a new dungeon room, a new zone, etc) and start the process over.
Keeping track of time lets me keep track of all the basic stuff like dehydration etc. I can apply exhaustion for penalties more easily, add more nuance to traveling, and so on. This is basic stuff, just stripped down in a way to use with 5E.

Encumbrance is mentioned too, but not in 5E's atomic detail. Your Constitution ability score + your Intelligence modifier = how many slots you have. This is because your body's constitution determines how much you can load it with, and your intelligence is how smartly you pack your stuff. You need a bag to carry; if you don't have a bag, chest, etc, you can only carry stuff in your hands or wear it.
  • Armors and large things use 5 slots if not worn.
  • Weapons + shields use 2 slots if not held.
  • Meals, gallons of liquid, coin purses, and all other things are 1 slot (within reason).

Anato Finnstark
So what's next? 

Next blogpost in this series, I'll go over the 8 classes, their 1st level abilities, their saving throws, and talk about how I wanna do races. After that, its a matter of playtesting this stuff and making more spellbooks and challenges. I'm not sure if I'll ever publish this ruleset, but at the very least I'll condense it one day for ease of giving to my players.