Optional and Homebrew rules in Vicissitudes of Time - English Version

Optional rules

  Rules listed in this section are in use throughout the campaign, even though of course we're gonna forget about half of them ;) I've also added some comments to the optional rules.  
  1. Action Options, DMG p271 - this one is used rarely, but surely. We rarely encounter big monsters, for example, but when we do, we tend to remember this rule. It helps us understand that the characters aren't limited by combat options in the rules and it's good to think outside the box. But one thing to remember in this case: keep to relative realism. If you've rolled a 20 and have a +20 modifier to Athletics, you can't make a flip in the air wearing full plate armor. Without magic, that is. Or if the armor isn't actually a futuristic exoskeleton. But without it - nope, you can't do it ;)
  2. Cleaving through creatures, DMG p272 - Mordhau taught me that this is only possible with big two-handed weapons such as greatswords, halberds, etc.
  3. Equipment sizes, DMG p145 - Imagine you make a clean hit with a crossbow, hitting a royal guard in the eye. That dude has a neat armor, but if you're not his size, you'll need to make a lot of adjustments at the blacksmith's. If it's even possible.
  4. Optionals almost everyone uses - Feats, PHB 165, Multiclassing, PHB 163
  5. Healer's kit dependancy and Slow Natural Healing, DMG 266 - This rule is needed to save the feeling of our world in the game. Healing is hard!
  6. Massive Damage and Lingering Injuries, DMG 272-273 - More to realism and to difficulty of the game.
  7. Skills with different abilities, PHB 175 - this is a great one, it helps differentiate strengths of the players. Imagine a character needs to swim for an hour to get to the shore and survive. At some point it stops being Strength and becomes Constitution: how to conserve your energy and keep your breath steady not to get exhausted, rather than using effort to complete this journey.
 

Optionals we decided not to use

  1. Variant Encumbrance - This rule is useful for Virtual Tabletops but definitely not for IRL games.
 

Homebrew и изменённые опционалы.

 
  1. Anachronistic Equipment - Meet, the document with equipment we've developed for Fringe Earth. It's in Russian right now, but it is due to be translated as soon as possible ;) It contains equipment characters can take from other time periods at their own risk ;)
  2. No corpse tanking - we use it in every campaign. My friend Basil from Odessa, Ukraine, has introduced me to it at some point. If a character drops to 0 hit points, they gain a level of Exhaustion. It prevents corpse tanking.
  3. Flanking - this is a variant flanking we use in Vicissitudes of Time, it's inspired by Mordhau and Mount and Blade games. There we can see that most people cannot handle combat if they're flanked. More experienced ones can easily play around two players, and the most experienced ones can easily handle three to four players, provoking them for friendly fire etc. Here it will work similarly: against some enemies the players gain Advantage while flanking, against others they need to succeed in a check to gain that advantage, and aganst the best of them there will just be a small bonus of +2 to attack, or even no bonus at all.
  4. Language expertise - Languages are the pinnacle of a historical game. This way, we assume most Time Travelers are polyglots: they can know as many languages as their INT modifier, plus their native language, plus English, cause it's considered to be Common. There are also levels of language expertise and there is the historical period. Levels are: 1 -is basic, you can use simple sentences like "Stop right there!". 2 -moderate, you can speak to merchants and do some small talk, but you're clearly a foreigner in their eyes. 3 - advanced. Most of the people are able to understand you, though your accent still can betray you. 4 - proficient. It's almost indistinguishable from Native, but still requires some awareness to use ;) Every new language after the first go down in terms of levels. If you know English, French, Swahili and Lao, your English is 4, French is 3, Swahili is 2 and Lao is 1. One can train the languages as per usual rules, except they can bump it up one level at a time. Each character is proficient in English of XXI century. That's where the periods come in. The further you go down the Time Stream, the more different is the language. Thus, if you've got 4 in Modern English, you'll get a 2 in Middle English and a 1 in Old English.
  5. Combat Healing Spirit - the spell only works in combat. I have spoken.
  6. Indeterminism and Medicine Death Save - If the character rolls death saving throws, they do it secretly and convey the information to the DM in a note. It helps get some more tension. It's still a show, you know ;) Though Medicine checks DC10 made as an action can always help determine the exact condition the downed character is in. And others can also help them make the saving throw with their Medicine skill.
  7. Help action proficiency - one can only grant an Advantage to a skill check if they are themselves proficient in said skill.
  8. Narrative Attunement - To learn magical properties of an item, an Identify spell can be of use. But to learn how to attune to a magical item, one needs to learn its history, how it was created. That's why we get recipes like "During full moon you have to kill a lamb that had eaten a frog's stomach". To finish attunement, one also has to mimic the same emotional state the item's creator was in. Also, the items the characters can, of course, spontaneously become magical themselves - it's a part of the setting.
  9. Narrative Control - the players can sometimes influence the narrative together with the DM, more than they usually do. They become temporary co-DMs and introduce things to the narrative, items and decorations to the scene, etc. Good old "Tell me how you do it" also fits this rule. Don't be afraid to be more proactive during the game!
  10. Lucky feat is banned. It kills combat dynamics.
  11. Equipment can become damaged - it's tracked by the DM, and even magic items can be damaged, though they're more durable. Everything can be repaired, though!
   

Stress and Inspiration

  Stress, Personality Traits and Card-based Inspiration us a system that replaces Alignment, Inspiration, and Backgrounds. It's heavily inspired by Crusader Kings III   Stress Treshold - is MAX stress the character can handle before getting a temporary issue. As soon as there are 3 of these issues, the character can suffer a mental breakdown. The exact numbers aren't final yet, we're still playtesting and updating this system.   Stress can increase because of:
  • Conflict - the character acts against their personality trait.
  • Losses - if a party member is captured or killed.
  • Failure - when the adventure goes terribly south.
  • Curses/Illnesses.
  • Starvation
  • Exhaustion - each time after Exhaustion level 3 is reached.
  • Poverty - when the circumstances force you to tighten the belt to survive.
  • Pain - if you suffer a lingering injury.
  • In some other cases Stress can also increase.
Can be decreased by:
  • Long rest
  • Extremely positive emotional experiences
  • Standart ways to relax be it alcohol, sex, smoking (though you have to be extra careful with that during a Crusade)
  • Big success
  • Level Up
Inspiration is gained by playing to your traits. One can have as many Inspiration Tarot cards (yup, we use those) as their Proficiency bonus. All the effects of the cards can be implemented after the die is rolled.  
  • 1 to 10's give you either:
    • +# attack (one use)
    • +# halved to damage or a skill check (one use)
  • Page, Knight, King and Queen grant you one of these:
    • An advantage to any d20 roll (one use).
    • Introduce a small item to the narrative if it wasn't declared beforehand.
  • The Major Arcana 1 to 14 grant you one of these:
    • +# halved to one saving throw
    • +# halved to your AC against one attack
    • Regain one level # divided by 3 spellslot, rounded up. So, if it's Arcana number 13, we get 13/3 = 4,3333 = 5
    • Regain hit dice equal to # divided by 3, rounded up. Same rules as in the previous.
  • Major Arcana 15 to 22 grant you this:
    • Take Narrative control. Some discussion with the DM might be needed.
    • Regain half MAX HP and gain # Temp. HP
    • Your attack becomes a crit (the only case where you need to do it before the roll)
  • Major Arcana 0, The Fool, makes you drop all Inspiration cards. Cause The Fool is an a-hole


Cover image: by Teyvill Dost

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