Whiskeyworld

This is for a D&D campaign using VDND rules which I will be playing at Titan Games and Comics in Atlanta, GA with a small group of friends once per month. Material such as I create for that game, in the vein of house rules, new content, play reports, and minor cataloging will be either housed or cross-linked here for my convenient reference. As this is a new enterprise, this page is a Work in Progress.
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  1. 100 years ago the oceans turned poison and died. Then the oceans rose.
  2. The old ways are dying. The peoples of the world are dwindling. The ancient races are vanishing.
  3. Nothing that survived the burning ocean is a friend to the peoples of the world.
  4. Small fishing boats have been replaced with massive steaming freighters of iron and fire.
  5. The nations are all small, banded together for protection. Masters of allied archipelagos, called Islanders, represent their many-nation-nations in the Blue Circle, a council of kingdoms always ill at ease.
  6. Beyond the Blue Circle is lawlessness, peasant kings, creature kingdoms, cargo cults, natural disaster in-waiting, and ruins of the old world.
  7. The ocean has become a toxic alcoholic swill, permanently proofed against fire in the first days of Century. It has also killed the rain, and every thunderstorm is a firestorm.
  8. Magic which remains in the world is devoted mostly to sustaining the world. Gift with a blade means you have a chance of surviving it.
  9. There are strange things out in the ruins of the old world, hidden away on mountaintops, nestled in the caldera of alien volcanoes. Powerful things which can change a person's destiny. Make her rich and safe, or, the next best thing, powerful.
  10. The borders have been drawn, and now the new world needs mapmakers. The walls have been raised, and now the world needs warriors. The old ways are dying, and the older are returning.
Whiskeyworld is seapunk murdercrawl in a world that skipped tallships and pirates and the Royal Navy and all that stuff. Imagine if our world went straight from vikings in longboats to coal-fired battleships with nothing that transpired in between. Where the greatest of cities is still small in the scheme of things, and you can see the next-greatest-city's fires at night. The fish are all dead but people still want flesh. The great spellcasters and good men of the world have to devote all their energy to not slipping into the caustic ocean, leaving lesser and meaner people to run the world, to their own ends. Everybody is a little drunk because fresh water is hard to come by. There is a land rush the like of which no Elf can even remember. The gods are distant, or tricks.

You begin in Whiteshrike, jewel of the Blue Circle, in the shadow of the Wight Mountain. You have a ship...

EXPANSIVE HOUSE RULES

ABILITY SCORES

Roll 4d6, drop the lowest. Do this TWICE, taking the better set of 6. Arrange as you like.

RACES

You may not be Genasi. You may not be Svirfneblin. You may not be Minotaur. If we meet any of those races during the course of the game, then you may make a character of that race if your character dies.

You play otherwise play any Race in the PHB, the Elemental Evil Companion, DMG, or the Unearthed Arcana 5e PDFs with the following changes made:

Warforged don't just look like Warforged, they look like a mechanical form of another race, mech elf, mech dwarf, etc. Their components also reverse the proportion of wood to metal usually seen in Warforged illustrations. I will refer to Warforged as Mancrafteds. I know where they come from. They do not.

Tieflings and Aasimar are heavily modified.

If you play a Goliath you are instead a large talking Gorilla.

ALL HUMANS are built with: +1 to any two Ability Scores, +2 to any other Ability Score, a Feat, a Language, and a Skill/Tool proficiency. All bonuses together can't take an ability above 20.

If your character would normally have Darkvision from its race, you do not have Darkvision. You may replace this with a Feat.

If you want a special race that doesn't exist yet, or found a homebrew race you're dying to play (THAT IS NOT just a monster in the Monster Manual statted up as a race) then ASK ME. I'll make one or modify one you found, if you can give me a good enough justification for it.

CLASSES

You may play any  Class and use any Class Option found in the PHB, Elemental Evil companion, DMG, or Unearthed Arcana PDFs with the following stipulations:

Clerics, befitting a true polytheistic society, honor and venerate all the gods but are consecrated to the service of one. Your choice of path is not one based on THE god you worship, but the god which actually LISTENS to you, because of HOW EXACTLY you serve the gods. The pantheon of Whiskeyworld is also suitably fluid: if a god does not exist who you wish to worship, we will build a god to suit you, and build the other gods around her.

Bards are first and foremost storytellers and historians rather than musicians, but they all know the Old Songs (Bard spells as poetic invocation).

DRUIDS BEWARE: your animal forms will not be immune to the poisoned oceans of Whiskeyworld even if they are aquatic.

Monks can take advantage of the post apocalypse with the Drunken Master path.

Paladins may not use the antipaladin options from the DMG.

Sorcerers using Wild Magic work a bit differently, basically always requiring a random effect roll but there's random effects and then there's fuckup effects.

Warlocks are known as Witches and that's the only change.

Wizards are the only ones who can make use of many of the ancient rituals I'll be sprinkling through the world like treasure.

If you want to play a special class or use a class option which doesn't exist yet, or you found a homebrewed one you want to try out, ASK ME. I will either make or modify something for you if you can give me a good enough justification for it.

ALIGNMENT

is boring and I don't find it helpful. You know when a character in a book or movie you love is acting out of character even if they don't have Lawful Neutral written down in their description. Instead I prefer using the framework Feng Shui uses:

You may all have your own agendas and your own paths to tread, and you may clash over these distinctions and butt heads. However, by buying in to being the heroes of the story, you are determining to TRY TO GET ALONG for the most part, act GENERALLY ALTRUISTICALLY, and WORK TOGETHER to achieve what you desire.

LANGUAGES

There's a lot of different places with their own tongue so we're going to do things a little differently. You begin with the Languages your Race and Background provide. Apart from that, any time you encounter a new Language that isn't magical script, roll 1d6. On a 1, you know enough of that Language to communicate but can't attempt Charisma checks in it. On all other results, you do not know that language and may not roll again. You can, however, learn Languages later using a Feat.

All Humans know enough to communicate in a new Language on a 1-2.

All Wizards and Bards who roll equal to or less than their Proficiency Bonus on a d6 have some facility with that Language.

BACKGROUNDS, FLAWS/BONDS/ETC

You may choose any Background.

If you have an idea for a more unique Background, or you decide you want to use a homebrew one you found, ASK ME. I'll be happy to whip something up for you or modify something if you make a strong enough case. IT CANNOT just be that you want a background that gives you specific skills and tools, it needs to be a story-first idea.

I'm less worried about the Traits and Ideals ans so on associated with each Background because I'm going to be introducing some custom elements to help define your character further and tie them concretely to the world, chiefly through the use of the Goals system (See below). You may either roll these or choose these from each category. You may also make something else up entirely, so long as it looks suitable, subject to approval.

EQUIPMENT AND AND ENCUMBRANCE AND MONEY

Imagine a video game style inventory. You have 10 Slots you can fill with items before being Encumbered. Things like ammo, maps, etc. are Stackable within the same slot. A reasonable amount of rope only takes 1 Slot. Kits all occupy 1 Slot.

Your coinage never occupies a Slot until it exceeds 100 coins in weight.

Heavy armor, two-handed weapons, staffs, things like ladders and 10' poles and awkward items like that, take up two Slots. If you have a question about an edge case, ask me.

At level 1, you may fill ANY 5 SLOTS for free, any way you want. THEN roll 1d6x10. This is the silver you begin the game with for the purposes of filling other slots, buying food and ammunition, mounts, things like that. One item you may want to purchase is a Backpack, which is basically an additional Slot.

You may carry more than 10 Slots of gear at any time, but are considered Encumbered unless you have a Race or Class feature preventing you from doing so. You may not carry more than 20 Slots of gear unless, again, you have a race/class thing.

There is a custom Trinkets table for Whiskeyworld. Trinkets do not occupy Encumbrance Slots.

MONEY...

works a little different. We're going to be on a silver standard rather than 5e's gold standard. That means that, for purposes of buying things with costs listed in the books, assume Platinum is gold, gold is electrum, electrum is silver, silver is copper. What about things that only cost a copper? I DO NOT CARE ABOUT THOSE THINGS, nor will I care about those things unless someone abuses this and makes me care. I assume you can work out a barter or trade for those minor cheap items.

MULTICLASSING

All house rule amendments mentioned above apply for whatever you multiclass into.

FEATS

At the moment there are no Feat restrictions. 

Because Languages work differently, you may take the Linguist Feat more than once. Taking the Linguist Feat a second time or another time after that affords you fluency in 4 new Languages but confers no other benefit.

Because there's going to be a lot of homemade stuff in the course of the game, you may take the Skilled Feat more than once only to achieve Tool/Vehicle proficiency with newly created Tools/Vehicles.

SPELLS

Owing to my personal proclivities for spellcasters, anyone who DOES NOT take any direct damage-dealing cantrips may DOUBLE their proficiency bonus for the purpose of all checks related to those cantrips. If you select a direct-damage-dealing cantrip later in your character's career, you lose this benefit.
INITIATIVE

We will be running this game with Simple Initiative. That is, after Surprise is determined and we are In Initiative, both sides roll against each other, highest roll goes first as a side, then the other side goes. After both sides have gone, we roll again. The Player to the immediate right of the DM rolls for the PCs in the first round, and the roll goes counterclockwise around the table.

I would recommend against taking Feats and Spell Effects that improve your Initiative. If you do, then this just translates to Advantage when it's your turn to roll initiative.

SKILLS AND COMBAT

When attempting a NON-COMBAT CHECK with a Skill you are TRAINED in, defined apart from the obvious as anything not occurring In Initiative, Roll 1d20+Bonuses twice.
  • Two rolls of 1- Super Failure. You fail and something horrible happens.
  • Two unsuccessful rolls, or a single result of 1 and a second unsuccessful roll- Failure. You fail.
  • One failure, one Success- Success. You succeed.
  • Two successes- Super-Success. You succeed as well as you possibly could.
  • Two rolls of 20- Amazing Success. You succeed as well as you possibly could and something else happens in your favor.
When making a COMBAT CHECK in a Skill you are TRAINED in, roll 1d20+Bonuses once.

When making an ABILITY CHECK, or in making such check in place of a Skill you are not trained in, roll 1d20+Bonuses once whether In Initiative or not.

Advantage/Disadvantage works alongside these like normal. Having Advantage on a non-combat check in a trained skill lets you roll 3d20, the appropriate party choosing any 2 of the 3 results before checking what your result means.

STEALTH.....

works a little differently. Instead of being told that you think you're stealthed, or that you may consider yourself stealthed for mechanical purposes, or whatever, Stealth works like this:
  • You tell me you're hiding or being stealthy and how.
  • When you have a chance of being NOTICED, you make your Stealth roll in the manner written above. 
This way you and the guy you're hiding from find out if that worked at exactly the same time, and each new person who comes by makes your hiding place more dangerous.

CRITS......

mean that either you apply normal Critical Hit effects or draw from the Crit Deck. 50% of the cards in the deck result in a normal crit, 25% of the cards turn the crit into a normal hit, and 25% of the cards turn the crit into a Crit Plus, with either improved damage or an additional effect.

DEATH

Rules listed on pg 197 of the PHB are in effect for Instant Death, Falling Unconscious, Stabilizing a Creature, Death Checks (including rolling a 1 or 20). If you sustain damage from an incidental source such as being in an area of effect or getting knocked down some stairs, it is handled like on page 197.

If, however, a creature wishes to molest your unconscious and helpless form, it may use its action to coup-de-grace you, resulting in Instant Death. This rule obviously works both ways.


LIFESTYLE, DOWNTIME, CAROUSING, WATCHES

Lifestyle expenses, Downtime, and Carousing rules only come into play if you are in a Blue Circle city. Ships have their own specific activities you need to attend to in your down time and very little room for anything else. There can be middle cases of course, but convince me of them. If you're not on a ship or a Blue Circle city you are in a wilderness or a mysterious place likely to be alien and antagonistic. Once you have been in a foreign city for 2 sessions, you may engage in normal Downtime, Lifestyle, and Carousing activities.

Carousing works like this: if you begin a session in a city and you have money, then you may begin the session by Carousing. Roll 1d6 and pay the result x50 in silver. Next roll a number of d6 equal to your result. E.g., if you roll a 4, you would pay 200 silver and roll 1d6x4.

An ODD result means that something GOOD happened to you. You won a contest, heard a lucrative rumor, met a guy, whatever your character would really love.
An EVEN result means that something BAD happened to you. You had a run in with the law and had to pay a fine, you pissed off a Witch who put a minor curse on you, you passed out and got robbed.

All effects are applied as they are rolled and you begin the session with whatever HP, monies, bonuses and negatives you picked up during the night.
If you only roll ODD results then the good things you got last night are their own reward.
If you roll any EVEN results, you begin the session with Inspiration.

Setting a night watch over camp or ship works like this:

We can either assign 2 hr shifts to each character and do a check each shift to see if something happens which may result in everyone else sitting there while one player has a little side quest...
OR
We go around the table at dinner time/around the fire/talking strategy before bed, etc, and everyone takes a turn giving me little bits of character info about themselves. This can be an anecdote from your past, a comedy routine about wereboars, sharing your patron's perspective about your current mission, whatever. If everybody gives me something and makes an effort, 1 check for the whole night...
OR
If nobody posts a watch or a character stays awake on watch all night, immediate encounter.


The Goals System and Advancement

Every character has a Minor Goal, a Big Goal, and a Major Goal.
  • Minor Goals are short-term, things which you can accomplish in a couple of sessions, or during down time. They are specific to your character's desires and rarely if ever weigh on the archplot. You may go through several Minor Goals over a couple of sessions.
    • These are things you can take care of during a session, during downtime, or by performing duties the DM asks you to like mapping, notes, or tech support. Early on, you should clear one of these every 2 sessions and may clear about 2 per session at best. As you advance and gain access to more resources, though, you'll be able to accomplish more (or have it accomplished on your behalf) more quickly and easily. Some examples might be...
      • Selling dungeon loot for a profit.
      • Planting a rumor.
      • Carousing.
      • Hiring a full complement of lantern boys and polemen for exploring.
      • Identifying a mysterious object.
      • Researching an existing spell or translating a book.
      • Adopting an urchin.
      •  Training a new attack hound.
      • Running for seat on the Merchant's Council.
      • Entrancing a room full of strangers with your masterful storytelling ability.
      • Repairing a previously damaged vehicle to working order.
  •  Big Goals represent a serious advancement of either the archplot or your character's own journey. Killing a specific rival, discovering a specific island, acquiring a specific magical item. 
    • These are end of chapter, end of adventure things, the kind of thing that forms the context for everything that comes after it. These may be things you set your sights on deliberately ("Let's go to that tower and sack it"), things which come up incidentally (you sack the tower because you're after someone who was taken prisoner in it), or completing the requirements of a Quest or Gaes spell and other things you have compelled against you. You'll usually complete these after several sessions of working toward it, but not always; after all, if your Big Goal is to get a shit-ton of gold, there's opportunities all around you for that. Examples might be...
      • Woo Type H hoard!
      • Slay a giant
      • Survive a dungeon gauntlet
      • Solve a complicated murder mystery
      • Stop and capture a mad scientist
      • Discover a new land
      • Creating a new spell
      • Getting crowned king
      • Finding a major magical item
      • Bringing a comrade back from the dead
      • Freeing a kingdom from tyranny
      • Finding a gate to Hell.
  • Major Goals are all long-term goals, the kind of things that whole campaigns are built around, or the aspirations for your character getting into adventuring to begin with. These are usually set by the DM, but if the party all agrees to change course this can be voided. These are things which don't just change the stakes for your party but for the entire world.
      • Kill Tiamat
      • Use an Unlimited Wish to reverse the apocalypse of Whiskeyworld.
      • Become a god

GOALS are used in place of XP.

Level XP needed to reach next level
1 3
2 5
3 7
4 9
5 11
6 13
7 15
8 16
9 19
10 21
11 23
12 25
13 27
14 29
15 31
16 33
17 35
18 37
19 40
20 X

All characters begin the game with a Minor Goal. The first adventure will usually present a Big Goal. Nobody should begin play with a Major Goal until something suitable presents itself. Characters will usually have more than one Minor or Big Goal active at a time. You'll never more Big Goals than your highest Ability Modifier (no matter what you can always have 1) and no more Minor Goals at once than the number of Big Goals you've completed (excepting the Minor Goal you begin play with).
  • You must achieve a number of Minor Goals equal to the number in the right column on the above table in order to be able to advance, but...
  • You must also achieve a Big Goal to actually advance. If you finish off a Big Goal before you complete the requisite Minor Goals, your achievment floats on top until you've got enough XP from Minor Goals. Then you level like normal.
  • This means characters won't all level at the same rate. You will get back what you put in.
  • If anyone achieves a Major Goal, however, (exploded the death star, made it to mt doom, defeated sephiroth) EVERYONE immediately advances.
You can swap out any 2 Goals you have in-between sessions. If you have the ability to take on an additional goal, you may take it on at any time. This includes taking on a new goal immediately on completing an existing goal.

Note that when you level your XP resets to 0, so you're not leveling every time you complete 2 minor goals and a big goal. Instead, much like the standard XP table, leveling becomes harder the higher you go.

You also only gain the benefits of advancing a new level in a place with a bed. Not a bedroll in a dungeon, or a campsite, but an actual bed. If you level up mid-dungeon, you've got to either survive until you get back to town or find Skeletor's futon. I'll waive this if it's logical but otherwise I think it's a sensible abstraction.

COMMON TYPES OF GOAL:
  • SURVIVE a dungeon, encounter, or specific enemy or effect.
  • TREASURE, in the form of gold, magical crap, or a MacGuffin.
  • STATUS achieved within the game world.
  • INFORMATION discovered, often regarding a mystery or an adversary, but sometimes for its own sake.
  • FAVOR in the eyes of a king or god.
  • POWER over someone or something.