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Shadowrun Overhaul: House Rule for Artifact Assensing

Artifact Assensing House Rule:

As a response to dragons and dragon sympathizers assensing the auras of Artifacts with Telesmas that incorporate draconic reagents they developed a technique to protect themselves.

This is a process that attempts to create a generic template of an aura to mask over the creator’s aura during the crafting of a focus. The reason for Talismongers doing this ties directly into the dangers that talismongers found themselves in during the Dragon Civil War with dragons and their sympathizers analyzing foci with telesma made from dragons. Doing this doesn’t add any additional time to creating foci.

The rules as they stand in SR5: “Make an Opposed Test of Artificing + Magic [Astral] vs. twice the Force of the focus. You can use the net hits to learn about the aura of the artificer who crafted it (see Assensing Table, p. 313). This can be attempted once a day per focus.”

The rules for assensing an artifact make no sense at all. This would mean that it would be easier to assense the creator of a cheap trinket of a focus than a mighty artifact. This is counterintuitive to me and besides Force seems like an odd thing to have as a limit for this anyway. I can see why they might have chosen Artificing but Assensing makes a lot more sense given that is what you are doing. I chose Artificing as the limit as not knowing much about foci and how to make them would be a big disadvantage.

Game Mechanics:

When crafting a focus using a 5th generation Enchanting Lab the Artificer can protect themselves from potential harm by placing a generic and shifting signature into the Focus making it difficult to assense. Artificers with Flexible Signature and/or Masking are even better at hiding their signature inside the focus.

Artifact Assensing Test: Assensing + Intuition [Artificing] (Force hours) v Artificer’s Arcana + Magic + Grade (Flexible Signature) + Grade (Masking) [Artificing]

Use the net hits just like you would for a normal assensing total.

May make one attempt a day. This is not an extended test and each attempt stands alone.

Shadowrun Overhaul: Focus Addiction House Rule

Focus Addiction, Assensing, and Astral Signature House Rules:

This House rule replaces Focus Addiction as a mechanic.

Focus addiction now makes the magician more of who they are. In other words it makes them more extreme or more like a caricature. A loyal second in command becomes obsessively loyal even when they shouldn’t be. A hardcore environmental activist slowly becomes more and more fed-up with megacorp greed and widespread apathy slipping over time into risk of becoming a toxic magician.

The focus ends up focusing the core personality traits, goals, behavior, and interests to higher levels. A studious academic hermetic magician passionate about discovering new knowledge with a curt, introspective, and introverted personality becomes more inwardly focused, cold to colleagues, hermitlike, and focused with laser like precision on a specific theory or discovery that has drawn their attention. Where before she might have balked at an experiment that caused any harm to a metahuman before bonding to several foci now years later she is willing to go to almost any lengths to achieve that big discovery.

Megacorporations know this and do what they can to encourage the development of certain obsessive traits like loyalty, hard work, and ambition when their prospective employees are young and going to a megacorp school. They actively prevent research into the psychological effects of heavy use of Foci.

Where having too much cybernetics can make a metahuman seem less human and connected with dead or empty spots in their auras; having too much power from foci can make a magician seem overly “alive” and over the top to the point of mania at an extreme usually seen only in old 2D comic book and James Bond villains. It also makes their auras and astral signatures brighter and more vibrant. This makes it easier to pick out details from their aura for skilled assensors and psychometrists.

PC’s that end up getting extra foci can extend or gain negative qualities that would make sense and gain Karma from them. That insomnia is so much worse now that the magician can’t stop thinking about this new project for example.

When a focus provides assistance to the magic (adds to dice pool) that created the Astral Signature it adds its Force to the number of hours the Astral Signature lasts.

It is harder to hide in the astral realm when carrying an arsenal of magical foci and harder to hide your astral nature when being assensed.

This also applies to the astral detritus left behind on objects interacted with by the magician making it much easier for a Psychometrist to use their power to assense the item and any astral signatures on it.

In my games I emphasize that it is normal for Lone Star or Knight Errant to have a magical investigator for most magical crimes involving assault or murder. A runner can hope that the investigator is to swamped to arrive before the signature fades but that often depends on the location of the crime and who it effected.

Thus, mages are very careful about casting spells in high security areas that will involve them not having the time to wipe their astral signatures.

Corps have forensic magicians on call for analysis and access to astral photography.

If you cast a force 6 spell and used a force 4 focus that is a 10 total which is going to take a long time to fade away or wipe guaranteeing that any AA is going to have the time to get a forensic magician or a Quicksilver camera and then they have your signature on file.

Anonymity is a key component of most Shadowrun games and losing that can be a nightmare.

After the third or so magical crime of note with the same signature it is likely the police or corp will put a special investigator to task to find out more.

Particularly heinous crimes or activities that cause a severe loss of face or nuyen may lead to ritual magic and use of the astral signature in the creation of a sympathetic or symbolic link. When a corp or any organization gets hit hard in order to save face they need to leave a message.

In fact corporate security will often cast the spell Astral Message and leave an ominous warning or demand their goods or extracted individuals be returned or else. This can be extremely dangerous as the Astral Message uses a material link and activates it to become an astral link which can then be tracked without the need for ritual sorcery. Don’t leave material links behind like blood!

Thus, you have a fun adventure with the magician having to be the johnson and hope the team he hires can alter or remove all astral evidence or go to jail or worse. Or the magician has to initiate and learn masking and flexible signature posthaste. Ready made plothooks!

Game Mechanics:

Add the Force of any Focus that aids a magician create a magical action to the hours that an astral signature persists.

When a magician has more Force in Foci than their Magic Rating they start to have problems mentally, emotionally and with their auras and astral signatures. For every Force over their Magic Rating they add a die to their opponent’s tests in the following activities:

Unmasked Foci bonded to an individual makes that person easier for others to assense and when ‘observing in detail’ it is harder for the magician to be stealthy or hide.

Unmasked Foci makes it easier for Astral Trackers to find them.

It  is easier to remember the magician’s astral signature.

It is easier to gain more detail when using Psychometry on a handled object.

It is easier to craft a Symbolic Link of the magician.

Astral, material, symbolic, and sympathetic links are easier to use against the character since the links are infused with so much more mana than they can safely contain. This mana bleeds out making connecting the link with the magician easier and making astral tracking easier.

It is also possible that long term use of foci at an high level can imbue traits into the foci as part of the magician’s aura becomes part of the foci. (See page 132 in the Street Grimoire for a few examples of Imbued Traits.) So, a rationalist might impart reason into the foci providing a bonus for spells that enhance or perform logic based tasks like analyze device or catalog. Another might imbue a violent nature and provide bonuses to magics that do over the top types of damage like turn to goo or acid stream. It is very common for foci with imbued traits to be passed down to the right magician for the right circumstance by powerful organizations. A focus imbued with Loyalty can be very useful to a parent corporation or secret cabal.

This has lead to serious research about how to “vaccinate” magicians from CFD by forcing them to bond with many foci and then infecting them with nanites. The nanites can’t prevent the foci from providing a pure astral signature back into the astral form of the magician. They have even tried taking foci away and letting cfd run its course and then reintroducing the foci later and forcing a bonding. So far it seems to be working to help fragmented minds to have an healthy merge with greater influence from the host at least that relayed by the foci in the form of imbued traits.

For example:

A magician casts a Force 7 spell on a run that is empowered by a Power Focus rated 3 they would leave an astral signature that would last 10 hours.

A magician targeted by ritual magic that had 10 Force in Foci and a Magic Rating of 5 would provide 5 bonus dice to the Leader of the ritual to cast the ritual after applying the Limit. The Limit is based on their abilities and this bonus is provided because of flaws in another. If they used a spotter the spotter would’ve had an additional 5 dice to use for Astral Tracking.

Shadowrun Overhaul: A Talismonger’s Guide to Hunting and Gathering Reagents

Wrote this up for a campaign with a PC as a talismonger with the rest of the team as her employees. The campaign deals with the chaos in the Talismonger community after the casualties of the Dragon Civil War. Since the system in the books is pretty sparse and basic I came up with something more realistic that would make it clear how much of a difference an hot spot makes in the bottom line of a talismonger.

In my next post I will be further explaining the value of the Grade of the reagent which is glossed over in Street Grimoire and just priced in Shadow Spells. I also came up with a new mechanic called Glitch Prone to handle the poor grades of the reagents. I don’t follow the pricing of Reagents shown in Shadow Spells partly because I use an house rule for how reagents work and partly because demand is up and supplies are down these days.

I have also invented a new type of Reagent called Flawless. It takes 10 Radical Reagents to make 1 Flawless Reagent. Orichalcum is made of 3 Flawless Reagents not 30 Radical. This change was because of my new Artificing rules and because it seemed more elegant to my new rules on what reagents do besides help with focus creation.

There are two types of search when looking for Reagents. The Hunt and the Gather. When Hunting in order to avoid harming the reagents the Hunter needs to use treated and clean weapons of the bow and arrow or melee type as more high tech weapons harm the quality of the reagents.

First of the Talismonger picks an area to Hunt and/or Gather in and the GM decides the state of the area and rolls for how many reagents it would be possible to harvest in that area if harvesting. If Hunting the GM decides what critters are in the area and their possible qualitative and quantitative value for reagent harvesting. If Gathering the key for the talismonger is to find the reagents, notice their quality and harvest them correctly.

Depending on hazards of the location whether urban or wilderness the PC is likely to need to make a Survival Test or three as most talismongers are going to be covering a lot of ground searching for as many reagents as they can find as quickly as they can find. In many cases this could lead to many days in places far from civilization. As some locales are hidden or out of the way or difficult to travel in and out of the smart talismonger doesn’t want to make many different short trips if one long trip can get the job done.

A smart talismonger has bodyguards or security when traveling in dangerous areas as they will be significantly distracted by the process of assensing an area to gather and harvest reagents or hunting a critter. It is far too easy for a hunter to be on the scent of one critter and get blindsided by the critter they didn’t know was also in the area.

It would be wise to have someone skilled in Outdoors Skills like Navigation to get to the region and go from area to area and Survival to…survive. When Hunting a critter someone with a good Hunting Knowledge and Tracking Skill will make the difference between an happy bottom line and a disgraceful snipe hunt.

Game Mechanics:

An Arcana + Logic [3] Test would be appropriate if the Talismonger is searching for a reagent appropriate for their or a client’s needs. Say a client who is a Mountain shaman wants a Power Focus than the Talismonger would spend some time to consider what kind of specimen or source would provide the best results as a part of a telesma. This is part of the process of tailoring the focus to the client. Net hits above the threshold of this test and successful gathering of the specified reagents to be used should provide tangible benefits to the talismonger like a bonus die per extra hit on a test as well as to the client such as lessening the Karma cost by the extra hits that the shaman would need to bond with the focus. A good talismonger should have a strong sense of how mana and reagents work. This also rewards the PC’s for going along with the GM’s adventure plot.


Tracking Skill and Hunting Knowledge Tests are par for the course once the team has made it to the area.

Once found the critter can be slain but depending on the way it was slain the reagents could be harmed.

The GM will have to decide the Potency of the critter and make some rolls to determine the reward for the team.

Talismongers with control over an area or with ethical reservations about killing the critters can use non-lethal incapacitating weapons and try and harvest what they can from a critter. In many cases this is the smarter choice depending on how the reagents express for that species. For example a talismonger in Wales is famous for making Foci out of the superior reagents made of shorn wool from his awakened black sheep.

Trapping and Fishing are other options that a Survival Test can help with. Non-lethal Trapping simply traps the animal in such a way as to do no physical harm to the animal and thus avoid harm to the reagents prior to harvesting.

The Specimen:

The GM decides on the Potency of the Critter by comparing the power level of the critter to a starting PC with some consideration about how “magical” the critter is, how important the critter is to the talismonger’s tradition, and the nature of the specific critter that is being hunted like if it is an Alpha or an Omega.


Superhuman Rating: Prime Quality with 5d6 or more raw reagents

Superior Rating: Prime Quality with 1d6 or more raw reagents

Equal Rating: Superior Quality with 1d6 or more raw reagents

Inferior Rating: Baseline Quality with 1d6 or more raw reagents

Spirit’s Potency:

Of Talismonger’s Summoning Tradition: Superior Quality with Force reagents

Of Different Tradition: Baseline Quality with Force reagents.

If Great Form: Raise Quality by 1 and Force x 2 reagents.

Hunting Techniques:

Best Practices: No Modifier

Non-lethal Trapping techniques, treated traditional fishing equipment, careful harvesting of living animals especially domesticated animals, capture using weapons like bolas or some manipulation magic, or when a critter is killed by melee and archery weapons that are specially treated and cleansed.

Poor Practices: Quality -1

Using melee or archery weapons which have ‘dirty’ mana. The same residue that a Psychometrist can read from an object can harm the integrity of the mana in the critter and thus the reagents. Indirect Combat Spells and some Manipulation spells as well. Methods that cause the critter to endure long term negative emotions or pain prior to harvesting can spoil the reagents as well.

Bad Practices: Quality -1 per box of damage from a bad source

Direct Combat Spells that do physical damage scramble and mutilate a target’s mana on a massive scale as do firearms and demolitions. Direct Combat Spells that do Stun damage may only disrupt its mana temporarily and can be used to capture and then after a sunrise or sunset allow harvesting without penalty.

Harvesting Modifiers:

The Goose who laid the Golden Eggs: Lessen the amount of reagents harvested by at least half but the talismonger is able to harvest reagents without harming the critter. The GM should decide how long of a period is necessary for reagents to renew depending on the form of the reagent. Taking a tail feather from an awakened bird means you have to wait until the tail feather grows back. This also works for domesticated animals.

Fresh: No Modifier.This is when a talismonger harvests the corpse of a critter or any once living matter before the corpse had experienced its first sunset or sunrise which will disrupt the mana in the critter just like dawns and dusks wipe out temporary magical lodges.

Didn’t use an Alchemy Kit to Harvest: Lowers Quality by 1 and makes transportation difficult as a kit enables the talismonger to coax the mana into a few small areas. Instead of reagents weighing less than a dozen grams a piece now have a weight of at least a kilogram per dram.

Mana Level: If the critter had spent most of the latter part of its life in an high or low Background Count or Domain than the GM can add a d6 or subtract a d6.

Not Fresh: Lowers Quality by 1. This could be shed fur or a scale that fell or rubbed off found at the critter’s home or when a critter is slain and brought to a talismonger after a sunset or sunrise has past.

Ancient or High Status Critter: Raises Quality by 1

Final Potency and Quality of the Specimen:

Tally up all the modifiers above until you have a Quality modifer and roll to see how many drams are there. A Quality raised by 1 that was of Baseline starting Potency and Abundancy increased by 1d6  would yield 2d6 Superior raw reagents.

Harvesting the Reagents:

First an Assensing + Intuition [Astral] (# of reagents, minute) Extended Test to locate and understand the mana and its concentration within the specimen. The character can only harvest the reagents that she can find in this process. Thus, if she stops getting six hits than that is how many reagents she can harvest as a maximum.

Then make an Alchemy + Intuition [Astral] (2x # of reagents, hour) Extended Test to concentrate and focus the mana in the specimen and harvest the reagents. Every hit on the Test can be split between concentrating the reagent and harvesting the reagent. A talismonger in a hurry can choose to skip the concentrating part and instead of reagents weighing under 12 grams a piece each reagent weighs at least a kilogram apiece. Once Harvested a reagent can’t be further concentrated without disrupting the mana making bulky reagents less valuable and useful for many endeavors. Superior 5th Generation Alchemy Kits also lower the time interval required in half and provide other benefits.

If attempting to harvest from a critter in a renewable way than an additional hit on the above test can be spent to carefully harvest without harming the critter or its ability to recover its reagents in the future. The GM should decide how much can be harvested safely but no more than half of its total reagents should be available without harm.

An Animal Handling Test may be necessary should the critter be awake and mobile. More reagents can be harvested in a renewable way from a calm, alert, and trusting critter. In many cases this isn’t possible and the critter should be harvested while immobile or unconscious. When a critter is in that sort of state its mana is in flux making it more difficult to concentrate the mana into reagents safe to harvest without harming the critter.


Parabotany, Parageology, Magical Theory, and other knowledge tests can help out with finding good spots to gather reagents.

These are the factors that will determine how many and what quality the reagents might be in the area. It is possible that more than one source of reagents might be in an area and if that is true the grade of the raw reagents may differ between the various sources in the area. The Status of an Area might be excellent but if it is well known it is probably being harvested regularly and thus not as objectively good an area as another. All the pieces connect.


The Source of the reagents could be a gold vein, a stalactite, a critter nest, ancient bones, moss on a gravestone, feathers discarded by an awakened eagle, petrified shit from a blackberry cat who ate the wrong magical compound, a chess set used in a grandmaster match, the discarded wood shavings leftover from making icons of Cthulu by a lunatic carpenter obsessed with HP Lovecraft, old amusement park coins discovered in a junked automated fortune teller, the smaller piece of a wishbone broken and discarded in tears by a child, and more.

The Abundancy of the Source:

Potent: 3d6 base reagents.

Baseline: 1d6 base reagents.

Poor: no base reagents.

The Purity of the Source:

Pristine: Raise Quality by 1.

Typical: No Modifier.

Poor: Lower Quality by 1.

The Status and Potency of the Area:
Prime: Rare pristine places free of physical and astral pollution and very little interaction with metahumanity. Or places of relatively pure purpose, emotion, and intent. Cathedrals, a memorial, a family graveyard tended lovingly for a dozen generations, an old half forgotten out of the way research library at one of the first universities like Salerno or Oxford, the original historical set of buildings at West Point, or a sept’s castle. Prime base Quality
Superior: Clean or Esoteric locales like a bucolic village or well maintained park with little but good natured traffic. A centuries old graveyard open to the public but off the beaten path, an old bookstore district, a community church where famous abolitionists gathered, a research lab at a quality university. Superior base Quality
Baseline: Mundane like most areas on earth: Baseline base Quality
Subpar: The nicer part of the Barrens. Subpar base Quality
Inferior: The bad part of the Barrens. Inferior base Quality
Tainted: Whole swathes of Tsimshian. Tainted base Quality

Resting State of the Area:
Untouched: Hasn’t ever been harvested. Quality raised by 2 and number of drams is raised by 3d6.
Unspoiled: Hasn’t been harvested in years. Quality raised by 1 and number of drams is raised by 2d6.
Fallow: Hasn’t been harvested in months. Number of drams is raised by 1d6.
Cultivated: Has been harvested this month. No Modifier.
Recently Harvested: Has been harvested this week and most of the reagents were found. Lower Quality by 1 and drams by 1d6.

These two factors can also define the Resting State of the Area and can both impact the above States.
Over Harvested: Area has been Harvested more than once a month for a year. Lowers Quality by 1 and drams by 1d6.
Tapped Out: Talismongers regularly harvest every single reagent in the Area for a year. Lowers Quality by 1 and drams by 3d6.

Harvesting the Reagents:

First an Assensing + Intuition [Astral] (# of reagents, minute) Extended Test to locate and understand the mana and its concentration within the specimen. The character can only harvest the reagents that she can find in this process. Thus, if she stops getting six hits than that is how many reagents she can harvest as a maximum.

Then make an Alchemy + Intuition [Astral] (2x # of reagents, hour) Extended Test to concentrate and focus the mana in the specimen and harvest the reagents. Every hit on the Test can be split between concentrating the reagent and harvesting the reagent. A talismonger in a hurry can choose to skip the concentrating part and instead of reagents weighing under 12 grams a piece each reagent weighs at least a kilogram apiece. Once Harvested a reagent can’t be further concentrated without disrupting the mana making bulky reagents less valuable and useful for many endeavors. Superior 5th Generation Alchemy Kits also lower the time interval required in half and provide other benefits.

Final Potency and Quality of the Source:

Tally up all the modifiers above until you have a Quality modifer and roll to see how many drams are there. A Quality raised by 1 that was of baseline starting Potency and baseline starting Abundancy increased by 1d6  would yield 2d6 Superior raw reagents.

Glitch Prone:

This quality of a reagent is a way for the GM to show the dangers of cheap reagents and gives a mechanic to the story fluff in Street Grimoire that talked about foci made from inferior reagents. It would be easy to apply this mechanic to making new negative qualities for characters, guns, computers et cetera so feel free to do so.

Minor Glitch Prone: Whatever magical test the reagent is used for is modified so any 2’s rolled are counted as a 1 for declaring a glitch or critical glitch.

Major Glitch Prone: Whatever magical test the reagent is used for is modified so any 2 or 3 rolled are counted as a 1 for declaring a glitch or critical glitch.

Critically Glitch Prone: Whatever magical test the reagent is used for is modified so any non hit is counted as a 1 for declaring a glitch or critical glitch.

Quality of Reagents:

The Quality of a refined reagent is determined by the lowest grade of a component. So 9 Prime raw reagents and 1 subpar raw reagent yields 1 subpar refined grade reagent making accurate discovery of the grade of all reagents important during the refining process especially with Orichalcum as the purity of the Orichalcum becomes a big deal at that level of cost. The benefits of Prime and Superior Quality reagents will be described in my next post.

Prime: 100% higher base cost and 50% faster to refine than baseline reagents.

Superior: 50% higher base cost and 25% faster to refine than baseline reagents.

Baseline: No modifer to base cost or refining time.

Subpar: 25% lower base cost and 25% slower to refine than baseline reagents. Minor Glitch Prone.

Inferior: 50% lower base cost and 50% slower to refine than baseline reagents. Major Glitch Prone.

Tainted: 75% lower base cost and 75% slower to refine than baseline reagents. Critically Glitch Prone.

Unusable: No value and impossible to refine with current alchemical techniques. Can’t be used with magic.


Alchemy kits: are very portable tools for Alchemists and help with harvesting reagents, preserving, and focusing discovered reagents into a smaller more portable raw form. An Alchemist might take a vial and some rare herbs and powders and take a little blood from a slain paracritter and weave the mana from the corpse into the blood mixing into the vial or use a ritual athame to cut a wand from a lightning damaged tree and have the dozen “raw reagents” channeled into just the wand or takes a bucket of awakened berries and weaves the mana into an handful saving space and providing ease of use as no mage wants to carry a bucket of reagents while on a run. A fifth gen kit increases the Astral Limit by 1 and cuts harvesting time in half as well as concentrating the reagents into portable objects. A 4th gen is standard also concentrates reagents and a 3rd gen doubles the normal time.

Alchemy Kit Enhancements: Adding extra features like the Ghostbusters Enhancement that lets Talismongers salvage reagents from Spirits or a kit tailored to a specific Tradition which raises Harvesting Test Limits by 1 if the Talismonger is of that Tradition. Think of a good enhancement and there is probably some doodads the alchemist can buy that will enable that help.


Increase the cost of any Magical Compounds in the books by 25% to 50% and increase Availability by 1 to represent supply and demand.

Item Retail Price Availability
Raw Grade 20¥ per dram
Refined Grade 450¥ per dram 6 + 1 per dram
Radical Grade 5000¥ per dram 8 +1 per dram
Flawless Grade 55,000¥ per dram 10 + 2 per dram
Orichalcum 175,000¥ per dram 14 +3 per dram
Prime Quality +100% Base Cost +2
Superior Quality +50% Base Cost +1
Subpar Quality -25% Base Cost -3
Inferior Quality -50% Base Cost -5
Enchanter’s Lab 5th Gen 75,000¥ 12
Enchanter’s Lab 4th Gen 40,000¥ 10
Enchanter’s Lab 3rd Gen 25,000¥ 10
Microlab 5th Gen 100,000¥ 12
Microlab 4th Gen 60,000¥ 10
Alchemy Kit 5th Gen 10,000¥ 12
Alchemy Kit 4th Gen 4000¥ 10
Alchemy Kit 3rd Gen 1000¥ 8
Alchemy Kit Enhancements 1000¥ each +1
Minor Foci (F x 900¥) + (F x OR x 250¥) (F x 2)
Major Foci (F x 10,000¥) + (F x OR x 250¥) (F x2) +4
Grand Foci (F x 110,000¥) + (F x OR x 250¥) (F x 3) + 3
Focus Tailoring (Days x 1000¥) + (3 x Reagent) +2
OR is Object Rating of Telesma Doesn’t include cost of Telesma

Shadowrun: Children of the Shedim (Boston Lockdown) *Spoiler*

For the GM wanting to add a little spice to the mix of the Boston Lockdown I have an idea that has been brewing for a long time but I think would be perfect for this. Initially the idea for Children of the Shedim came from the concept of Dissonance and how it might relate to the Shedim and the possibility of a one in a million fluke merger from a Master Shedim and an electrokinetic or Technomancer who had an extremely low Essence and was ‘dying’ during Crash 2.0 or the possibility of a Master Shedim being uploaded to the Matrix as an e-ghost. Can an e-ghost possess a dead AI?

All sorts of weird stuff can happen once you throw in the Shedim into Boston with Project Abyss and Project Vulcan along with the Dissonance Pool from Crash 2.0.

You can really throw the PC’s for a loop who might have read Boston Lockdown by running with this idea.

Project Abyss

Cyborg Technomancers had flourished under a joint NeoNet and Aztechnology program unlike previous attempts by combining Blood Magic and Cyberzombie ritual magic and very sophisticated arcane and electrokinetic techniques under Dr. Xavier’s advanced tutelage. This was the beginning of the GrandMaster Shedim’s plans as she was able to incorporate part of her Essence into the Cyteks in order to stabilize them and bend them to her will and the will of the Dissonance. From here it was too much of a temptation not to seek mastery of an headcase Dragon and to use the CFD phenomenon to her advantage.

With CFD and the story of the dragon and the nanites I think it would be perfect if the nanites that were active while the magic in the ritual was active was basically creating nanites that could create extremely fast living vessels for a new type of Shedim headcase I will call a Childe for ease of use.

Most often the Childe would lie dormant for the most part while aiding the nanites indirectly in accelerating the headcase process. When the latent Childe is killed however without significantly destroying the body the nascent Childe is born knitting together the nanites using a type of electrokinesis and the dead body to create a new form much like an insect spirit has different forms per the Inhabitation Power.

Those who become a Childe develop depending on how well they merge and what type of being they were with physical or violent becoming Ragers while those who were social would become Manipulators. Those who merge well and were Technomancers or had latent Technomancer talent that hadn’t awakened yet become Masters. These Masters can use their abilities and the nanites to have a form of the ‘HIve Mind’ Spirit Power but only with headcases who share their particular mix of nanites and Shedim Essence. The Hive Mind takes advantage of the Matrix and the headcase ability to use it via their nanites allowing the Master to possess its underlings at will or issue commands et cetera. So, one of the first things a new Master does is infect other headcases in order to bind those headcases to them and implant the Shedim essence.

The Abilities listed under Evolution in Boston Lockdown would be abilities granted by the Essence of the Childe and would include an Hive Mind ability along with the ability to pretty much come back to “life” barring fire or some pretty immense damage. The Shedim Essence focuses in the brain of an headcase just like the nanites and could be spread via brain splatter while significant head trauma would disrupt the Childe essence and the nanites from bringing itself back from the dead.

All sorts of weird stuff can happen once you throw in the Shedim into Boston with Project Abyss and Project Vulcan along with the Dissonance Pool from Crash 2.0.

You can really throw the PC’s for a loop who might have read Boston Lockdown by running with this idea.

Shadowrun House rule: Karma Buy

The point buy system as a rule leads to characters with more low level ratings in Skills, more skills and Knowledges in general, and mid to solid range Attributes especially for Human PC’s. It also, encourages less truly high Skills and Attributes compared to other methods.

If you want to see Metahumans with Attributes that are more on par with those created via other methods then by having the PC’s not apply the minimum levels from the Metahuman Attribute Table until after Attributes have been purchased. Still apply the maximum rating if less than 6 to prevent overspending and to keep track of terminal ratings.

After character creation the karma cost would stay the same 1 through 6 making it far easier to have a Troll achieve terminal ratings in Body and Strength for example.

This will make PC Troll Attributes look far different compared to the standard system as an high Body and Strength is now possible without bankrupting the PC.

To balance the massive savings simply increase the Karma Cost of the Metahuman or Metavariant by 50%.

So, an elf would go from 40 Karma to 60 Karma and it would be very much worth it for a Face PC.

So, a character starts at 1 and for most Attributes ends at 6.

Thus, a range of 0 to 100 Karma to go from a 1 to a 6. To compare for a PC to go from a 4 to a 9 is 175 Karma say for an Ork using the standard rules.

The statistical curve of Attributes will be changed which will lead to a different style of play.

D&D 5e House Rules: Crafting, Materials, Magic Items and Economics

This is my first draft and there is likely to be some minor changes going forth.

The basic rules for crafting make sense when dealing with simple crafting but quickly breakdown as unrealistic when dealing with let’s say a goldsmith crafting a gold ring with a large emerald setting. At 5 g.p.’s a day the ring would take months to craft while a silver ring could take weeks or at least several days even if plain and unadorned.

So, in the rules that follow I will cover how each item has a complexity of design, a material that can modify the difficulty in successful crafting, a level of quality which can modify the value and/or functionality, and how long it takes to craft plus some basic economics on running a business or being an employee for those characters who focus on being a business owner or guildmember or master in their downtime. The more skillful the smith the less raw material is wasted or lost in the smithing process.

A common material could be a malachite stone, copper, bronze, iron, oak wood, beaver fur, cow leather, or granite. Common materials have a base minimum value of 1 g.p. a day for determining amount of work done and cost of materials though this could be modified by local conditions, prosperity of the region, and supply and demand. The base time to craft is the basic cost for the item as listed in the PHB such as 10 g.p.’s for a battle axe.

Uncommon materials could be a garnet or agate, dwarven steel, common mithril, silver, electrum, Fey-bronze, iron-oak, mink fur, wyvern leather, or marble. These have a base minimum value of 20 g.p. a day for determining amount of work done and cost of materials though depending on the material the costs can far exceed that starting value. The crafting time using most uncommon materials is twice as long as the value listed in the PHB such as 20 g.p.’s for a dwarven steel battle axe though some uncommon materials may be harder to work and have an higher multiplier.

Rare materials could be a ruby or emerald, noble mithril, admantine, gold, platinum, Ebon Ash wood, Holy Willow, fur from a Feywild Polar Bear, Shadow touched stone, and Dragon teeth or scales. They have a base minimum value of 100 g.p. a day for determining work done and cost of material. The crafting time using rare materials is usually five times that of the basic cost for the item though gold is easier and only has double the normal time when used for jewelry.

Very Rare materials could be a star ruby, royal mithril, primal gold, fur from a Primal Cave bear, a claw from an ancient dragon, marble carved from Mount Meru, and other such potent or valuable material. They have a base value of 500 g.p. a day for determining work done and cost of material. Crafting time is usually five times that of the basic cost fro the item.

Legendary materials might be a gem grown from the heart of an elder tree in the sacred grove of the first elven nation that holds an echo from that ancient time, a scale from Tiamat, iron ingots mined by undead dwarven masters in Hades and smelted by Hephaestus himself, locket of hair from the Freya, or Hide from a slain Nemean Lion.

Overhead per day of crafting is typically around 1 g.p. and covers everything from sales and property taxes, bribes, expendables such as wood or coal to burn at a smithy, and paperwork.

Labor and Lifestyle costs are based partly on the prosperity, trade, and urbanity of the locale but commonly sit at 5 s.p. a day worth of lifestyle and 1 g.p. a week for wages for apprentices and at least 1 g.p. in pay or lifestyle for a journeyman, and 5 g.p.’s a day or more for a master.

The Labor “Retail Value” equals Proficiency/Familiarity bonus + Ability Score Modifier + Tool Quality Modifier

For example:

A human Journeyman smith crafting a warhammer with iron has a Strength Modifier of +1 and a Proficiency of +2 with average “apprentice” tools that provide no bonus would do 3 g.p.’s of labor a day. This would add to the 1 g.p. in material and 1 g.p. in overhead so the total retail value of labor would be 5 g.p. a day. The smith would complete the warhammer in 3 days since the cost in the PHB is 15 g.p. There would be 6 g.p. worth of material and overhead involved and if the smith sold the warhammer to a merchant for 9 g.p. then he would have made 3 g.p. for 3 days of work if working for himself and probably less if an employee with a typical employee making a basic lifestyle for the 3 days and maybe half a gold in wages. If the smith was lucky and an adventurer commissioned the warhammer for retail price then the smith would’ve made 9 g.p. for 3 days of work or 3 g.p. a day.

A dwarven master smith crafting a dwarven warhammer made of royal mithril for his king. She has a Strength Modifier of +5 and a Proficiency of +5 with rare crafting tools providing a +3 bonus would do 13 g.p. of labor a day. Each day of labor would use 500 g.p. worth of material as royal mithril is treasured for its ability to attract legend and thus magic making it highly likely to become enchanted through use over time. The dwarven smith completes the royal warhammer in five days (65/13 = 5) using 2500 g.p. worth of material and 5 g.p. in overhead. The royal commission paid 5000 g.p. so she made close to an hefty 500 g.p. a day profit though if the GM used my optional rule requiring a DC check after completion of the item and failed then that is risk of wasting a lot of expensive materials!

Optional Rule: Crafting Failure

Each item has a DC to craft as a base item which can be modified by the type of material. Difficult to work materials place the craftsman with a Disadvantage on their roll. Easy to work materials give Advantage on their DC check. Simple products lower the DC category by one while complex products can greatly increase the DC like a master poisoner’s secret recipe of instant death or the careful and precise grinding and glasswork necessary for a quality spyglass or building a massive cathedral. Failure means the item is unusable or if the roll was close has an hidden or obvious flaw such as a sword that works fine until it gets below freezing when it becomes brittle or in the case of art just doesn’t show the emotion intended or just isn’t any good.

The base DC (common) for most weapons, most small objects of art, simple housing, is the number of days spent crafting times 5 which creates a weapon or item at the level of quality of the materials.

The base DC (uncommon) for longbows, most armor, most medium objects of art, basic housing is the number of weeks spent crafting times 5.

The base DC (rare) for advanced tailored armors, vehicles, fortifications, and most large objects of art is the number of months spent crafting times 5.

The base DC (very rare) for advanced and large sea vessels or mansions, keeps, and cathedrals is the number of seasons spent crafting times 5.

The base DC (legendary) for flying citadels, planar ships, 1000 foot bronze statues, great Pyramids, and other world class projects is the number of years spent crafting times five.

Optional Rule: Exceptional Success

When you double the base DC on your crafting roll the Quality of the item goes up by 1 category. A common item that would be limited to a common enchantment now counts as an uncommon item. If you triple the base DC than it goes up by 2 categories et cetera.

Optional Rule: Item Quality and Enchanting

A quality crafted item like all things that exhibit excellence and develop interesting stories tend to attract and collect magic. A knowledgeable and powerful character can take advantage of this and craft items with the potential to become magical over time or even weave magic into the crafting of the item at the beginning. As is often the case items with minor magics at creation can achieve Legendary status when wielded by great heroes or villains or as the case of the Moonblades of the Elves of Toril when wielded by generations of heroes.

The quality of the item must match or exceed the level of the enchantment. A Legendary Quality sword could accept any level of enchantment while a common blade would be limited to a common enchantment. A common quality blade could develop into a Legendary Artifact but wouldn’t be crafted it would be earned by the blade.

When enchanting an already crafted item or when enchanting while crafting the artificer rolls either Arcana, Alchemy (potions), Nature, or Religion depending on the type of character and the type of enchantment. Any character with a Class can enchant an item though those that require a spell require a spellcaster to make who knows and can cast the spell.

An alternative rule is to replace the 25 gp in labor for enchanting with the ability modifier + proficiency + tools (Enchanting Lab or Zen garden or Sacred Grove or Cathedral Chapel) times 5=X g.p.

A cleric of a charismatic religion could focus his passion of his zeal to create an holy avenger while a monk could spend her day dwelling on the riddle of the wolf while raking sand and trimming bonsai trees and would use Wisdom and Nature and a druid could craft a magical staff while carving in the tranquility of the sacred grove.

If the character is crafting and artificing at the same time the total time crafting is doubled as long as the enchantment matches the material quality and the artificing. This increases the material cost spent on the item as it will take longer to craft. The artificing DC matches the crafting DC.

Crafting magical potion batches has a DC of 5 plus 5 for per level of the spell and requires common materials for a 1st level spell and one tier better for each level after that. For each level of material surpassing the requirement the DC is lowered by 5. The base cost used for how long it takes to craft the potion is the DC of the Alchemy task. Legendary ingredients allows up to 9th level potions though few would try to attempt that. Each batch has 1d6 potions of the type crafted.

If adding an enchantment to an existing item the time for artificing and the DC for artificing is the same as shown on the optional rule for Crafting Failure with the number of days, weeks, months, seasons, or years determined by the DM based on the item and what the enchantment is. A common enchantment has a DC of 5, uncommon 10, rare 15, very rare 20, and 25 for Legendary.

For example:

An elven smith Leiwand is crafting and artificing a Longbow which has a base retail price of 50 g.p. He and his adventuring party had gone deep into the Feywild and in the course of battle a treant was slain by a fire giant and some of the wood was still good so he harvested it. Using leather from a young adult red dragon he slew a few years ago for the grip and gut sinew from a fey saber tooth tiger he begins his crafting of a rare magical item. It will have a +1 to attack and damage and sets the arrows on fire as they get fired adding 2 points of fire damage to each arrow plus an extra +3d6 of damage towards Giants and Giantkin. The adjusted retail cost is 250 g.p. and the smith has a proficiency of +5 plus Expertise and a Dexterity of +4 and rare tools to provide a +3 bonus and a total of +17 and 15 days to make. This rounds up to 3 weeks which is doubled for a total of  6 weeks because of artificing. The DC for crafting is 15 and for artificing is Nature + Wisdom against a DC of 15. He rolls a 14 for a total of 31 and that doubles his craft dc so the quality goes from Rare to Very Rare. The artificer roll succeeds as well. The Quality level is Very Rare but the enchantment is Rare so the item has room to grow.


Marekanos the Barbaric’s Battle-Axe Chilldeath had been a favorite of his father and had at the time he claimed it a common enchantment but after slaying the Crimson Necromancer and the Demi-Lich of Kora it became far mightier by absorbing both the Legend and a share of the magical energies that were expelled at their destruction. After slaying and bathing in the blood of the tyrant Dragon-King Torenus who was an ancient white dragon the Battle-Axe earned its final name as it protects the wielder from the cold and cold magic while also dealing chilling and necrotic damage alongside every strike. So, a minor magical weapon became an artifact of incredible power during the century of adventuring the Half-Elven barbarian survived and continued its adventures in the hands of first his half elven daughter Tiana from an human mother as Chillend rejected the other daughters who didn’t express any elven features and after her death by her half sister the half elven Alrekanos born of an elven mother as Chillend rejected those kin who expressed only elven traits.

D&D House Rules:

Character Creation Backgrounds

Crafting, Magic Items, and Economics

Familiarity vs Proficiency

Character Focus

Tactics of Mistake


D&D 5e House Rules: Familiarity vs Skill Proficiency

With this rule I am blending the Jack of All Trades Feature idea from Bards and the Background optional rule from the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

Familiarity with a Skill, or Tool grants the character a bonus equal to half their Proficiency bonus.

Familiarity with a Weapon, Armor, or Language gives the ability to communicate and comprehend basic everyday concepts or the ability to use or wear weapons and armor without the benefit of bonuses from Strength and Dexterity Ability Score Modifiers and with Stealth Disadvantage as well as a higher risk of exhaustion.

Familiarity represents a basic knowledge or ability that would be gained with an apprenticeship, training, or heavy exposure and use of a Skill. It basically represents completion of an apprenticeship within the purview of the Background.

A Bard with the Jack of All Trades feature can be regarded as having Familiarity with all skills, tools, languages, weapons, armor, and ability checks that the Bard can reasonably explain that they might have been exposed to during their journeys. A Bard would not be familiar with a gunpowder weapon if it was foreign to their travels but would quickly pickup the basics of a flintlock after seeing it in action or given a quick tutorial.

Each Background in the Player’s Handbook or created by the DM now only provides Proficiency in one Skill or Tool but instead provides Familiarity with any tasks that the Player can reasonably explain via their character’s history.

Gaining Familiarity in gameplay is relatively easy if during the game the PC is often engaged in activities surrounding the topic such as a Rogue impersonating a low ranking janitorial employee of a Fugger bank for a few seasons would pick up a lot of the jargon and concepts of the banking world just by exposure and overhearing conversations. The player just makes a good argument to the DM or other players depending on your style of play for why she should be familiar with a given process or tool.

For example:

A merchant’s daughter who accompanied her mother on her monthly journey to the Elven trading outpost at the borders of Qualinesti might reasonably have picked up proficiency in Elven customs, language, and writing system along with an understanding of appraisal, markup, accounting, paying tariffs, and general rules of trade. Maybe she played in the forest with elven children and learned a little about surviving in the forest or practiced with an elven composite shortbow enough to not embarrass herself with the other kids.

A squire to a knight who paid for his living by traveling from one tourney to the next across the many lands and city states of the Marches might be Familiar with Martial Weapons and Light, Medium, and Heavy Armors while picking up an understanding of how to gamble and place bets, analyze other warriors for strengths and weaknesses, a smidgeon of an half dozen languages and more dialects, a fairly comprehensive list of the Heraldry of prominent champions, fighting houses, martial orders or tourney hosts, and how to behave without embarrassing yourself around knights and lesser nobility.

With Armor the character with Familiarity must make a Constitution Saving Throw equal to the AC rating of the armor after every full minute of constant battle or 8 hours of wear while active.

D&D House Rules:

Character Creation Backgrounds

Crafting, Magic Items, and Economics

Familiarity vs Proficiency

Character Focus

Tactics of Mistake


D&D 5e House Rules: Character Focus

The idea for this House Rule grew out of my original idea to develop Half-Elves as more of unique and variable race given their hybrid status. An Half-Elf raised among rural Humans is going to be culturally different than one raised in a cosmopolitan planar city like Sigil or raised among the Fey Lords in the Feywild or in the forests of Silvanesti. That is just the cultural differences which wouldn’t take into account variations in biology. A Liger is very different than a Tigon despite both being half lion and half tiger. I also remember a version of D&D that had a whole lot of options at character creation using a GURPS style point system. Anyway, before I digress any further here is my idea. The addition of Character Focus below is not enough to make the pc’s substantially more dangerous and can be easily countered by having important NPC’s partake as well. It is really for flavor, roleplaying, and differentiation between PC’s. Using these traits as a guide it should be fairly easy for a player and a gm to invent their own character foci too.

Before I go into Focus I just wanted to highlight a character trait that should actually have a big impact on pc’s in your game.

Advantage of the Majority: This trait is free to all members of the dominant race, sex, religion, or caste in a given region. The character is more likely to blend in and not attract attention and enjoys many privileges from having easy access to foods, gear, weapons, and armor for their size and shape to having the right to vote or wield certain weapons or wear certain clothes or colors. The character’s advantages may be invisible to them and should the character go into an area in which they no longer have this background applied to them they may find things to be very strange and have a hard time adapting. In most worlds this applies to human PC’s.

Character Focus:

Each PC gets access to one Character Focus that shows a key part of who they are and what they spend their down time doing. A Rogue who is well connected in a legal merchant guild is going to roleplay differently than a Rogue who is a Savant with thieves tools. A Paladin carrying his father’s shield blessed by Brennan the demigod of protecting children is going to have a different feel than the Paladin Weapon Specialist.

Well Connected: Based on your character’s background you have a wide range of contacts giving you an “in” and respectability within that field or organization and a constant source of general information that can be turned towards specific information at a price. A guild member will know the gossip in the guild and a secret or two and easily find themselves well ensconced in a new city and probably find a few leads on guild and adventure work. A criminal knows the major players in the shadows and recent critical events from the point of view of the underworld. A noble knows that Baron Schwine has the finest hawks in the Marches and recently decided that he would pay a fortune to the noble adventurer who brings him a griffin egg. A travelling Sage who was well connected would be welcomed upon arrival at Candlekeep. At GM discretion the PC can have advantage on certain social or investigative rolls involving their social circle and can use the group’s influence in certain social interactions with outsiders. A lowly street gang member is easier to intimidate by a made thief of the Guild than a random no name thief. It is wise for the Well Connected PC to share time, knowledge, and money on her contacts even if it is just a drink or lunch or an hunch. The more lubricated the contacts the better the gossip flows back. The difference between a well connected Noble and a Noble with just the background would be that the Noble knows the daughter of the Duke and has maybe exchanged words once or twice but can’t get invited to her party while the well connected Noble who had never met the daughter of the Duke could in an afternoon of conversation at a local Baron’s luncheon find themselves with an invitation upon arrival back home. The DM is encouraged to have random NPC’s recognize the PC and to have heard stories about them throughout the game. The PC just knows people who know people.

Wealthy: The PC starts with an additional 100 gold pieces or adventuring equipment worth an equivalent amount, or tradeable goods worth at least 250 gold pieces that would need to be sold a sizable distance away and includes an hireling and a mule and wagon for overland travel or part of a cargo hold for overseas travel. The Wealthy PC would of course be wise to hire protection on such a journey. Wealthy PC’s tend to attract wealth but need to spend it as well and don’t take well to modest lifestyles. A Wealthy PC knows how to act and dress higher status and knows the best inn in Waterdeep before she had ever been there. If the PC’s want to sell a minor magical item legally the wealthy PC might know who would be interested and who would be able to afford it. The DM is encouraged to have money flow in the direction of this PC and the PC is encouraged to spend freely and often.

Heirloom: The PC has one very expensive and valuable piece of property that they inherited and treasure. They would never sell the item or allow the item to be taken from them. It could be a mastercrafted sword or a suit of half plate worn by a famous Paladin ancestor that inspired the PC to take on the adventuring life or even a minor magical item passed on by a loved one when they died. It should be an item that would grow in power with the PC and their legend. One cannot picture Raistlin Majere without the Staff of Magius even if the only magic he could do with the staff was a light spell at 3rd level. Torvald’s father’s battleaxe soaked in the acidic blood and soul of the adult black dragon he had slain and from that day dealt acidic damage on his foes and later slew a demi-lich forming a strong antipathic resonance against the undead. The DM should find some sort of excuse or work with the player to make the heirloom scale and remain a key part of the PC as they become more legendary. Torvald after all had passed up on some pretty looking axes with heavy enchantments on them when they arrived in Sigil.

Weapon Specialist: The warrior has a favored weapon that they spend inordinate amounts of time mastering to the exclusion of a vast chunk of their social life. With a specific weapon type the PC has a +X added to their attack with X representing the number of normal attacks they can do in a round. At first level this would be a +1 bonus but a fifth level fighter would be +2 because they have two attacks. When the PC increases their bonus they gain an additional favored weapon.

Acrobatic Defender: +1 bonus to AC as long as the character has freedom of movement.

Shield Specialist: The character adds their Proficiency +1 to their AC when using a Shield instead of the +2 to AC a Shield normally provides. Whenever an attacker misses the Shield Specialist by more than 10 they open themselves up to a bonus action called a shield bash which is an attack that uses the shield and does 1d4 + Strength damage. A Magical Shield provides the AC bonus to the attack and damage rolls just as if the Shield was a magical weapon.

Elemental Affinity: PC is resistant to a type of energy damage like acid, fire, cold, or thunder. The PC gains a +1 bonus to Skill rolls involving the element and +1 damage when using weapons or magic involving the element. For example a PC with a fire affinity would have a talent for starting the camp fire, wielding a flaming sword, or casting a fireball. More exotic resistances are possible with DM approval and PC background such as being a Fire Priest’s acolyte or being a distant descendant of a race resistant to that type of energy.

Magical Prodigy: The PC is extremely talented with a school of magic and gains an extra cantrip and an extra level 1 spell slot for that school. For those without a spellcasting class they gain just a cantrip. Should the Prodigy ever get trained in a spellcasting class and gain a level they would then gain access to the extra level 1 spell slot.

Studious Spellcaster: The PC has worked very hard to learn how her magic works and how to stretch her capabilities. Her Spell save DC has a bonus of +1 and she learns 1 additional spell at character creation.

Battlemage: The PC is talented with combat spells and cantrips. The PC adds their Dexterity Modifier to their Spell Attack Modifer for combat magic that needs a spell attack roll.

Savant: Character is extremely proficient at the basics of a skill or tool or instrument. The Savant counts a roll of 7 or less as a 7 with any tasks involving that skill.

Attractive: The attractive PC has advantage on social rolls with someone who finds them attractive at the DM’s discretion based on the social situation at that time. The PC spends an inordinate amount of time focused on highlighting their beauty or handsomeness at least from the point of view of the Weapon Specialist. The PC might be reluctant to undertake tasks that might diminish their attractiveness like crawl around in a sewer. A troubadour, artist, or actor can really leverage their attractiveness when performing and often earn more pay than other entertainers of greater skill.

Gifted Healer: Any use of a Healer’s kit or Herbalist’s kit or magic to provide aid to an injured or otherwise hurt individual gains the injured character a bonus hit point per die rolled.

Fleet Footed: Speed increases by 10 feet. The PC spends much of their spare time running or swimming and can also run longer distances as well compared to less focused characters.

Green Thumb: The PC has a special knack with plants and has advantage with all rolls using an herbalism kit or Nature rolls involving growing or tending plants. Plants just seem to be brighter and healthier around them. Sentient and semi sentient plants react positively to the PC who has Advantage on any social rolls involving plant creatures.

Tough: Has an extra 2 Hit Points at character creation and an additional 2 HP per level afterwards.

Sentinel: +5 bonus to passive Perception rolls. Pick one sense and have advantage on all rolls using it.

Well Traveled: Familiar and comfortable with different cultures and races the PC has a very cosmopolitan view of the world. The PC is unlikely to make a  faux pas when interacting with exotic beings, foreigners, nobles, and rustic folks and counts a 5 or lower as a 5 with all skills they are proficient in that involve interacting socially or involving academic knowledge of them and their traditions. Common among traveling sages who can become quite valuable to leaders and merchants hoping to begin diplomacy or trade with little known peoples. Well traveled PC’s gain an extra language and have an easier time learning new languages as they can learn without the need of an instructor if they are immersed in an area with the language and culture. Their training time is also cut in half.

Darkvision: A PC of a race that doesn’t have this trait gains Darkvision of 60′. It may be as a result of pact with infernal or fey beings or as a result of an ancestor from another race or from exposure to wild magic or even an experimental potion.

D&D House Rules:

Character Creation Backgrounds

Crafting, Magic Items, and Economics

Familiarity vs Proficiency

Character Focus

Tactics of Mistake


D&D 5e House Rules: Half-Elf Variants

My phone and tablet broke so I haven’t been able to update this and I’ve been too tired to get on my pc for those few moments it isn’t in use. I am scrapping much of the core ideas involved with this for some new ideas. I will be back. 
When growing up most Half-Elves learn how to diffuse social problems around them and come to grips with their mixed race heritage and the problems it can cause. Another path is to simply acknowledge the difference and rather than dive into the social sea and master it these Half-Elven pursue mastery  in whatever drives their passion. From their human parent they gain drive and ambition with a focus on the short term and attention to detail with a long term view from their elven parent allowing them to excel far beyond their peers. This pursuit of excellence provides some social protection or at least gets the Half-Elf out of the mainstream and thus out of the attentions of those who might cause harm social or otherwise.
Most Half-Elven Savants come from backgrounds involving libraries, temples devoted to gods of knowledge, universities, and master craftsmen or artists. Exposure to books or people with a love in what they do touches and influences both sides of their nature turning them from studying the people around them and their differences as most Half-Elves do and towards finding that kind of love of knowledge or passion in their own lives. As a consequence they learn to disarm or avoid difficult social situations with their intelligence and excellence.
Some Half Elven Savants fall in love with languages and often end up as a diplomats or go betweens as a result of their learning rather than their charisma and social skills.
There is a small drawback for these Half-Elven which is a tendency to slip into Reverie and day dream when pondering particularly complex ideas, solving subtle puzzles or riddles, creating masterpieces of art or war, or researching a topic pushing the bounds of current knowledge. This can be inconvenient when time is an issue. It is a drawback of their elven blood and their tendency to ignore time constraints and a drawback of their human blood and their tendency for vibrant and powerful imaginations and dreams.
Half Elf Savant Traits
Your half-elf character shares some qualities with its parents and some that are unique to them whether they are Savants or other variants.
Age: Half-Elves mature at the same rate as humans do but age slower because of their elven blood sometimes approaching their second century.
Alignment: Savants tend to be of a less chaotic bent and more influenced by the human traditions if raised amongst humans or mastery of an art or form if raised amongst elves. This greater discipline and patience can be advantageous when dealing with finicky and eccentric sages, artists, and master craftsmen. They might chafe and resent rules or demands but cast that aside as unimportant while in pursuit of their passion or goals. As a result Savants are more reliable and predictable than their more common cousins.
Size: Half-Elves tend to inherit their height from their human parentage while tending to inherit the lean and wiry frame of their elven parentage. This is just a tendency though and half elves have a great range in how they express their unique ancestry both in their physicality and in their minds. Your size is medium.
Speed: Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Darkvision: Thanks to your elven blood you gain the ability to see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it was dim light. Color can’t be discerned in darkness only shades of gray.
Fey Ancestry: Thanks to your elven blood you gain advantage on saving throws against being charmed and magically induced sleep. The powerful dreams of the savant weaken their resistance to sleep magic.
Life Long Learning: Starting at first level the Half-Elven Savant gains proficiency and expertise in one skill or tool or starts with 5 extra languages. Whenever the Savant has an Ability Score Improvement they also gain proficiency in a new skill or tool or they can gain 3 more languages. At 11th level they can gain Expertise in a second skill or tool.
Languages: You can speak, read, and write Common, Elvish, and one extra language of your choice.
Reverie: When undergoing a task with a skill or tool they have Expertise in with a Difficulty Class of Hard (20) or greater the Savant must make a Wisdom (10 + DC greater than 20) saving throw to avoid spending twice as long on the task as strictly necessary.  A task with a DC of (25) would require a Wisdom saving throw of (15) for example. During this time the Savant can be irritable upon interruption or less perceptive to outside and extraneous details as a flaw should the player decide to roleplay this. Savants tend to enjoy dreaming and can sometimes solve difficult problems while sleeping allowing a 1d4 to be added to a task roll if the Savant takes a short rest and a nap before attempting it or after a long rest if the Savant consciously decides to focus on a problem before bed. Savants tend to sleep deeply as a consequence and are difficult to awaken and have disadvantage on any tasks rolled on their turn immediately after awakening or for being woken up.

Hiatus, Good reads, and D&D 5e

I haven’t had the time lately to keep up with posting on Shadowrun especially on Magic or go through and modify my house rules to take into account the new Magic book. I do have a whole section of a notebook with half finished or rough draft house rules to post plus some scribbles saved in evernote so if I can get some days off without any special events we will see.

Besides life and work I have been distracted with D&D fifth edition and I do have some house rules in rough draft form that I will post sometime soon. No fiction lately sorry. I have just finished the excellent Magician’s Land the third book in Lev Grossman’s Magicians Trilogy which I highly recommend. For Harry Potter fans definitely check it out and for Eli’s famous fanfic of Harry Potter who has a scientific background before going to Hogwarts. You can easily lose sleep because of these stories!