Homebrew Rules

Updated: 29 March 2021  


Whilst the game uses the official 5E Dungeons and Dragons ruleset, there are some clarifications and homebrew rules detailed below that will override the official ones where applicable. These will be tweaked and changed in collaboration with the players as the campaign proceeds.  

Some things to be aware of...

Please read the World Meta so that you know what to expect. Magic, in the form of both spells and items, is rarer and more exotic than in regular Dungeons and Dragons. Gunpowder (called Blackpowder in The Known World) is a rare and highly treasured resource. This means that ships may have cannons and Gunslingers can be encountered (or played!). The world is a harsher and more dangerous place than you might be used to. These facts are reflected in some of the rules below.  


  • The optional rules for Fear and Horror found in the Dungeon Master's Guide (pg. 266) will be used.
  • Strength can be used instead of Charisma for the purposes of the Intimidation skill in many situations, if the DM agrees.
  • At the start of the campaign you will be asked what you wish to get out of it, and also be given the opportunity to compile a wish list of three things you would like to aim for. These are completely up to you, in collaboration with the DM, and there are no real limits. It should be things that you would ideally like to see during the campaign, but they are not guaranteed. Perhaps you would like to obtain a powerful artefact, or become involved in a huge romantic plot, or have a powerful and mysterious nemesis. This information will help the DM in the creation of the campaign.
  • A short rest lasts for 15 to 20 minutes, rather than a full hour.

Characters and Levelling

  • The campaign will use the Story Based Advancement option instead of experience points for levelling (also known as Milestone Levelling).
  • Character race must be take from the list given here. Variant humans are not allowed.
  • Character class may be chosen from the Players Handbook. Classes and Class Archetypes from other sources may be allowed but must be agreed with the DM first.
  • The Blood Hunter class can be used, but multi-classing is not allowed with it.
  • The Only Players Award Inspiration optional rule from the Dungeon Master's Guide (pg 241) will be used.
  • Feats may be taken in lieu of an Ability Score Improvement when levelling, as per the Players Handbook.
  • Blackpowder is an uncommon substance used by gunners on military vessels and the Gunslinger character class.


  • As combat is such a brutal affair we will be using rules for Improved Critical Damage, which are more impactful than the normal rules. When a critical hit is made the normal weapon dice do maximum damage, and the critical dice are rolled as normal.
    • Example: Under normal rules if a sword hit does 1d6+2 damage, then a critical hit would do 1d6 +2 + 1d6 damage
    • Under the new rules the same sword doing a critical hit would do 8 + 1d6 damage
    • Only the initial weapon damage dice are maximised - extra damage dice due to effects are not maximised
    • These rules apply to critical hits done by NPCs and monsters too - so watch out!
  • The optional rules for Cleaving Through Creatures found in the Dungeon Master's Guide (pg. 272) will be used.
  • The optional rules for Firearms and Explosives found in the Dungeon Master's Guide (pg. 267) will be used.
  • The optional rules for Lingering Injuries found in the Dungeon Master's Guide (pg. 272) will be used. Lingering Injuries can be triggered in the following circumstances:
    • a character drops to 0 hit points but is not killed outright.
    • a character fails a death saving throw by 5 or more.
    • a character suffers two critical hits in a row.
  • Drinking a potion in combat can be done as a Bonus Action or a full Action. Administering a potion to another character takes a full Action.
  • If you hold your Action until a specific event happens, you may also hold half of your movement.


  • Due to the rarity of healing potions, characters may attempt to use a Healing Kit to recover hit points instead. This always consumes the Healing Kit, whether successful or not. The characters attempting to heal in this way must make a DC10 Medicine Check as an Action. If successful the recipient may use one of their Hit Dice to recover some Hit Points. If the Medicine Check was a critical, they may use up to two of their Hit Dice to recover some Hit Points.
  • Healing in this way can only be done outside of combat (at the DM's discretion).
  • Resurrection is not an easy thing to achieve. There is a cost and a risk in attempting it. Skill checks (Persuasion) are required to coax a soul back to a body, even when a spell is cast to attempt the process. Up to 3 members of the party may offer to contribute to the ritual via skill checks. Each must role-play a scenario where they ask the soul of the fallen character to return and make a persuasion skill check with a DC adjusted to their performance. A final DC10 resurrection check is made by the DM (increase the DC by +1 for each previous resurrection). For each successful contribution, subtract -2 from the DC. For each failed check, add +1 to the DC. Further, it is possible to vex the god of death (Nerull) by contributing to this process. A death curse may be incurred, in which every consecutive day after the curse, the cursed PC’s HP maximum is decreased by 1. When they hit 0HP, they instantly die.


  • Magic items are not sold in shops, and most people will never see one in their whole lives. Magic users are generally viewed with suspicion and fear.
  • Spell components must be located and used in the casting of spells, at the discretion of the DM. Spell foci and component pouches do not negate the need for the correct components if this is the case. Hunting for spell components is one of several special Downtime Activities that players can partake in between adventures.
  • A short rest is not enough to identify a magic item. Only the most basic of information will be gleaned from a short rest. To gain a true understanding of an item's powers extensive research will likely be required in the absence of an identify spell.
  • Very Rare, Legendary and Artifact magic items will require more than an identify spell to reveal their full properties. Some kind of extensive research will also be required.

Treasure and coin

  • In the world of The Azure Sea gold is very rare. A silver piece in this setting is worth as much as a gold piece in other settings.
  • All starting coinage that characters begin with is in silver coins, not gold.
  • This means that copper and silver are actually worth something, and that gold and platinum are very valuable. A cloaked figure who accidently drops a gold piece may be much more important than they look!
  • Expenses and item costs have been adjusted to take this rule into account.


The following rules for Sanity will be used. After all, the world of The Azure Sea is a dangerous and scary place!
  • Characters will have a new Sanity Score. This is equal to their wisdom modifier + charisma modifier (minimum of 2). The Sanity Score is an indication of how well the character can bear the consequences of confronting disturbing circumstances and resist the call of madness.
  • Characters can spend a Sanity point to help them succeed in certain situations. They can expend a point of Sanity to automatically succeed on:
    • an ability check to understand some eldritch clue, such deciphering the mind-warping text on an ancient shrine.
    • a Charisma saving throw to resist horror.
  • Whenever a character gains a form of madness, they lose a point from their Sanity Score.
  • If a character’s Sanity Score is reduced to 0, they go indefinitely insane. Going indefinitely insane renders a character unplayable. Their mind has been so corrupted by horror that they cannot function.
  • There may be some obscure ways of restoring your Sanity Score, but that is up to you to discover!

Of Ships and the Sea

There are extended rules for adventuring by ship and sea. These are detailed in the article Of Ships and the Sea.

Cover image: Meta/OOC by Unknown


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Marcus Hudson
23 Apr, 2022 23:53

Some pretty interesting rules in place for the game you are running. Thinking about running most of these for my campaign. Wanted to ask for some clarification though on the section treasure and coin. Since the main currency now is more silver than gold, is there a page with the adjusted expenses and item costs?

24 Apr, 2022 12:44

Hi Halikon unfortunately there is no page with that information. For our game I basically have reduced the cost of everything by a factor of 10, except for magical items, which are rare and valuable. So, for example, the PHB cost of a short sword is normally 10 gold pieces - in my game it is 10 silver pieces. I did consider adding a new currency below copper pieces (say, copper bits or something) but decided against it due to unnecessary complications. After 8 sessions so far the rules seem to be working well. Combat is more scary (if a critical hit is rolled the players are either ecstatic or terrified!), and we've had a few near misses and several times when party members have gone to 0 hp. The new healing mechanic seems to be working too. And the coin rules seem to be playing out well too. We still haven't had the opportunity to test all the rules out yet, but we'll get there.

Marcus Hudson
27 Apr, 2022 01:20

Ah ok, so you just switched up the currencies from gold to silver via diving prices by 10. That's pretty easy to understand and implement then! I saw the rule about the critical hits and it quickly reminded me of the time I've lost several first level characters due to unlucky GM rolls, so I wasn't sure about sticking with it but if it's working out so far I may stick with it! (Adds for some hype player moments too) I found the healing rule with the med kits too complex in my opinion so I haven't really enforced it, but resurrection additions are always fun. Thank you so much for the reply! I wasn't really expecting much but I'm so glad you came back with an answer and your thoughts on the homebrew rules. I've watched your session videos and it looks like its going well and fun so far, keep at it!