So, the Codexlia is 976 pages at this moment, and I went on a tear in between migraines and filled in a bunch of the combat stuff I had just set aside.
I still have to really dive into the Esoterica — and that is a lot of writing and rewriting of special abilities from classes, and I need a brain that doesn’t randomly start suffering from railroad spikes being driven into it in order to work on that kind of stuff.
A question on a forum made me start thinking about how do I describe all of this. In my mind and the mind of the team, it is just D&D. Not “better than” not “improve on”, just plain D&D. Yes, it is different, but that’s because it doesn’t take place on any established world, and isn’t connected to any of the established lore.
The selection of things relating rules that I cam up with is this:
- 9 Ability scores plus 3 derived. I renamed Intelligence into Knowledge, split the perception checks off into their own ability score, brought in Sanity, and added a score called Mana because we use a magic point system that has significant impact on pretty much all magic in the game. Then we have Heart, Vitality, and Psyche. Starting Cap at Creation is 20, actual Cap is 30. This means: Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Knowledge, Wisdom, Perception, Sanity, Charisma, Mana, Heart, Psyche, Vitality.
- Minimum Ability Scores: None. There is no minimum score for any race or class. Everyone does get an additional 2 points for wherever (and now they have 12 “whereevers”, because you can use them on the derived scores, as well).
- Races: all are Heritages. Each of them has a Tradition (which includes some core Values and family structure), Talent, Trait, and Limit. Some have multiple Talents/Traits — and if they do, then they have multiple Limits.
- Backgrounds: There are generally always Two types: Circumstance and Opportunity. Circumstances are basically the “thing risen above”, and Opportunities are “how you learned to live”. Backgrounds do not give ability score increases. They do provide starting wealth, skills and skill bonuses, and are sometimes required for certain classes. Occasionally a story for a campaign may require a third.
- Homelands: where they came from. These includes folkways, values, attitudes, and odds and ends. Backgrounds are generic enough that they can be used with any homeland and one of the core rules for them. Homelands help to establish personality and role playing.
- Metamagic: there is no sorcerer class, and metamagic is technically available to everyone, because you can spend additional mana to alter a spell at time of casting.
- Exhaustion: That Vitality score? Yeah, this is where it comes into play. Different system, because using magic is tiring, but also because you can push through fatigue or exhaustion using Vitality, and some attacks and do not cause damage to HP but may reduce a PC to a Comatose state.
- Damage types: I got lots of them. Added in Crushing and Energetic as general types, Psychic damage, heart damage, manic (magical) damage, additional elemental damages that reflect environmental harm (Sand, Smoke, Frost, Sun), planar damage that has an impact, Spectral damage.
- Unified Spell Damage: spells cause damage based on the level of the caster and the level of the spell. Caster determines number, spell level determines the die type used. This makes a cantrip in the hands of a 20th level Wizard who is really angry something you do not want to meet, lol. The baseline is simple: I use a die chain that follows Degrees of Complexity (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12) for spell level, and then the number of dice is determined by spell caster level. With the expansion of elemental spells and such, this feeds into a mechanic of Power Contests.
- Elemental Spells: There is basically a form of attack and a form of defense for each of the multiple elements at each Spell Level. It also means that there are more attack spells at lower levels and higher levels.
- Degrees of Mastery: each of the “tiers of play” basically matches back to a “degree of Mastery”, and that is joined by a title that is used in role playing and describes the competency of a particular person (novice, adept, maser, etc). This is actually a major mechanic of the system around improvement.
- Degrees of Complexity: Spells have been resent to be 0 to 9 in five groups of two levels each. These groups are called Degrees of Complexity — higher complexity spells require greater learning. This is all tied into the the Aspects, in a manner that allows a character to essentially choose between a magical path or a martial path, regardless of the class they choose, or make trade offs for certain capabilities.
- Classes: Called Professions, there are no subclasses, and there are 16 distinct classes who all have abilities that no one else can use. They do not match any published class, and do not follow the same structures as DDB classes.
- Aspects: take all the feats, special abilities, and other things you can get, put them all into a big ole chart, and then allow them to be taken by anyone when they reach certain levels. The specific class abilities are not included, but there are Disciplines, Veiled Knowledge, Esoterica (feats, basically), Combat Orders, Magical Mysteries. Although they are counted normally under proficiencies, among the Disciplines are also using armor and using weapon types. Half casters get to choose between a Combat Order or a Magical Mystery — and access to spells is governed by this as well.
- Weapons: some changes here, predicated on the idea that the user grants capabilities to a weapon instead of the weapon granting capabilities to the user. Nearly ever major weapon part has been shifted to the Combat Orders, and special attacks or “weapon arts” have been added in, making those who take these better than those who do not, but not requiring anyone to take them — so a wizard can now still swing a sword or wear armor — just not well, because they haven’t focused on learning how to do so.
- Rituals: all spells have a ritual form. One does not always want to cast them, though, lol. Apparently, fireballs tend to incinerate the folks in the ritual. All rituals require material components, and can be done by anyone who follows the ritual and has the power (individually or collectively). Rituals occup a place of counter to the power of wizards.
- Spells: All spells have Verbal and Somatic Components. All spell casting causes a manifestation to appear around the caster — so no sneaky casting. The higher the level of the spell, the longer it takes to cast — this impacted the way action economy works, as well.
- Difficulty: 30 different levels.
- Size: the entire size system was redone. Basic rules are still in place, but now there is a difference between an 8 foot tall person and a five foot tall one.
- CR: CRs were re-done. They run from 1 to 50. The full calculation set up is explained.
- Magic Types: Arcane, Divine, Eldritch, Mystical, and Primal. Each has a distinct list, but everyone can pull from the Elemental list (which is part of all of them). Classes are linked to a particular kind of magic (bards use mystical, witches use primal, wizards use arcane, etc). There is also a way to do mage duels.
- Psionics are included — they require effort to learn, and getting them means sacrificing a choice gained as you level up — so for example, instead of taking a magical mystery, you take telepathy instead. It allows for someone to be any class, but rather than have some of the traditional capabilities of that class, they have a lot of psionic abilities instead.
- There are nulls — they have an automatic resistance to magic. This does include both malicious and beneficial magic — they are harder to heal.
To all of that, some of the important things that redefie certain elements of the game should be noted:
- The longest lived peoples are the Semihumans, capping out at around 250 years. These are the children of Celestial, Infernal, and Fae scions.
- There are no subclasses.
- Druids are now spirit wielders and Servants of the Old Gods, guides and seers less concerned with the planar problems and the Powers That Be, and ore concerned with the ten thousand spirits of the world. They do not have wildshape, and are not nature guardians.
- Rangers are nature guardians, and do have wildshape. They also have the ability to use nature as their weapon.
- Paladins have Smites, and are warriors against the Infernal.
- Shrinewards are essentially Magical Girls who have Aegis, and oppose the Infernal.
- Clerics are closer to traditional priests, and far more focused on support.
- Barbarians find a parallel in Vanguards — but the rage mechanic affects everyone. They use a similar mechanic known as Fighting Spirit that is more beneficial.
- Warlocks are not primarily Elemental Wizards, determined to shape the forces to their purpose — this conflicts with Witches, who seek greater harmony.
- There are no Sorcerers or “deal making” warlocks.
- Rogues are Corsairs and Envoys, who have particular roles that function both independently and as leadership groups.
- Psionics are an entire class of capabilities that operate under a separate system that is similar to but not he same as the magic system. Anyone can gain Psionic powers, but they don’t start to gain their use until 3rd level, and thereafter must choose certain sacrifices in order to expand their set. This means that there is no “psionics” class, bu Monks are linked to it and it can become a potent addition to their arsenal, a well as that of Nomads.
- Casting Time is Unified and critical: 8th and 9th level spells require 5 actions to cast. 6 & 7 4 actions. 4 & 5 need 3 actions. and so forth. This means that a lot more import in combat is placed on lower level spells (because you can sacrifice a movement or bonus action to cast a spell, so it is possible to cast a 0 to 3rd level spell in a single turn), but also means that high level spells require defense of mages.
- Going unconscious costs one memorized spells. Always.
- The aspects mechanic is essentially an expansion of the homebrew systems for creating additional subclasses in many ways — only now it applies in the same manner but without the habit of stripping core concepts out of a given class. So one can still have a warrior that sucks at combat and is powerful in magic, and it means the distinction between full and half casters is rendered moot.
- The underlying focus that enables all of that is an understanding that people have to learn things, that knowledge is power, and the more you focus on one ting, the less you are able to focus on others.
- For Bards, this makes them exceptionally useful, as they gain the ability to trade off across many aspect groupings, making them true jacks of all trades.
So, yeah, it can get a bit dicey, lol.
Some other odd housekeeping ntes: Once the Coedxalia is finalized, i will break it up into chunks as well. One will have the setting info, one will be about character creation, one will be House Rules, one will be for the DM (because there are things only DMs should know to keep some surprises fresh), one will cover magic, one will cover aspects. Essentially Chapbooks, it allows me to take a gigantic and unwieldly thing and make it into smaller, more narrowly useful pieces.
It is much easier to stare at a 350 page book about a world and a 300 page book about making a character than it is to stare at a 1000 page book, lol. But ensuring that I don’t duplicate, that everything is interwoven and consistent — that requires me to use a single work in development space.
And all of that is why I haven’t put the full book out yet.
I am close to opening up a comment system. My biggest concern is that I am super tired of spambots and the whole moderating stuff there, but I can do a few things to ensure that it works.
It will mean that in order to comment, you have to register an account and you will have to subscribe (and then I will have to manually allow comments). Given the small size of this effort, that is reasonably easy. If by some unreasonable dream or nightmare it took off, then life would be hell and well, I will cross that bridge when I get to it.
I am also likely to put in a forum.
One of the dirty secrets I haven’t really talked about is that I plan to use this site as a way to actually set up the ongoing campaigns. Not a VTT, but an aid and a way to track things if folks so choose. And, in an experiment, I also am thinking of using a learning module system as a “self guided” form of adventure.
I have to live that long, of course, and I need to take care of myself to do that, but I am not certain of anything at present, so we will see.
There will be more content uploads. The Codex is a single document. To do stuff I have to break it up, and I have discovered that when dealing with a 1000 page document, copypasta to new docs is a slow process, lol.