Pen and Paper RPG House Rules

Making our favorite games even better

Tag Archives: focus

Shadowrun Overhaul: New Focus Types and Enchanting Equipment

Enchanter’s Equipment:

An Enchanter’s Lab is usually part of an Enchanter’s Magical Lodge and allows a Mage to create Enchantments with ease and style. The original Labs were very basic and for Hermetics were often little better than a chemistry lab but as time has gone on there have been many advances in Enchanting allowing feats impossible or difficult just a decade ago to be achieved today. 4th Generation Enchanting equipment was the norm in 2075 but in the wake of the Dragon Civil War and the loss of so many Talismongers and Enchanters who dealt with Draconic reagents and telesma created an huge lack of supply at the same time that demand increased via new Enchanting abilities. This spurred an aggressive burst of pure research and new manatech allowing yesterday’s apprentices to try and compete with yesterday’s lost masters.

5th Gen Lab provides a bonus situational die to all Enchanting Tests including Drain. Additional bonuses can be gained with the Forge artifact component of a Magical Lodge if the lab is within such a location.

The Lab cuts down the time to refine reagents to a mere 8 hour workday and will often speed up other Enchanting processes as if the calculated Force was 1 less. For example an Enchanting process that normally takes Force days with a Force of 4 would only take 3 days instead.

The key enhancement of the Fifth Generation Laboratory is that Alchemists with the Fixation Metamagic are able to bypass the need to learn the Advanced Alchemy Metamagic and are able to create Magical Compounds, Charms, Potions, Scrolls and other advanced alchemical preparations.

4th Gen Lab is the standard Lab as described in the rules. It takes a 10 hour workday to refine reagents. These have been basically the same for the past decade barring a few minor improvements.

3rd Gen Lab doesn’t usually have any penalties as anything really backward was probably updated but they can make certain Enchanting processes take longer to do especially refining reagents which takes a full 12 hour workday. Most shamans haven’t updated from these as the new 4th and 5th gen Labs really focus more on Hermetics and Wuxing Traditions. Most are twenty to thirty years old.

Microlabs allow the Enchanter to take their lab with them when they travel. They don’t provide a bonus die for all Enchanting Tests. A microlab cannot make a batch greater than one when brewing potions, alcohol, and other magical compounds because of space constraints. A 5th gen microlab gives the same access to Advanced Alchemy and Magical Compounds, Charms, Potions, and Scrolls. Microlabs weren’t produced during the time period of 3rd Generation Enchanting manatechnology.

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. Includes Tool Cleansers and other items that allow for quality reagent harvesting.

Alchemy Kit Enhancements: Adding extra features like the Ghostbusters Enhancement that lets Talismongers salvage reagents from materialized 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 aid.

Ties in with this post about Talismongering.

Astral Signatures and Foci:

If a sentient being is slain with any test directly aided by the use of a Focus than an Astral Signature is created that lasts Force hours.

When a Charm Focus is used for over a minute it creates an Astral Signature. The duration of the signature has a limit of the Focus’s Force and grows by 1 per minute of use of the Focus. This astral signature would look similar to an influence spell when assensed astrally. Thus, a Charm with a Force of 4 used for 3 minutes would create a Force 3 Astral Signature. If used for 5 minutes would create a Force 4 Astral Signature.

Any time a Focus contributes to a magical test then it adds its Force to the strength of the Astral Signature. A focus that provides four dice to a manabolt of Force 4 would have a total strength of 8.

Focus Addiction House Rule


There are three major categories of Foci and they are Grand, Major, and Minor. Any Artifacts or other magical creations of Artificing fit into these three categories. So, if you invent something new for your game like using Artificing to create Legendary Critters or Chimera for the purpose of making a physical familiar or more powerful homunculi such as a Golem you can use these categories as a guide.

Grand Foci are Power, Shield, Battle, Charm, Genius, Muse, Stalwart, and Sublime Weapon. Karma to bond equal to F x 8.

Major Foci are Weapon, Combat, Detection, Health, Illusion, Manipulation, Invocation, and Initiate. Karma to bond equal to F x 4.

Minor Foci are Qi, Enchanting (helps with Alchemy and Disenchanting), Metamagic, Spell and Spirit Foci as described on SR5 p 320. Karma to bond equal to F x 2.

Descriptions of New Foci:

A Shield Focus provides equal to its Force a number of dice that can be used to help with passive defense, active defense, Counterspelling, defense against Critter and Spirit Powers, and defense against Alchemical Preparations. It provides half its Force rounded up as a bonus dice for surprise tests as well. Often has design that brings to mind shields, pentacles, pentagrams, defense runes, and the seal of solomon and usually takes the form of badges, amulets, decorative pins, earrings, and belt buckles.

Developed in Tir Tairngire to protect the Princes from rebels this Focus is a popular one for those in positions of power under threat of assassination. Organized crime has very much taken to producing and using this Focus.

A Battle Focus provides a dice pool up to its Force that can be used with any personal Combat Skill Test including using a personal sized weapon and has at least a Skill Rating equal to twice the Force of the Focus. Often has martial designs and takes many different forms like a gauntlet, ring, crown, armband, or torque.

Developed by an open source metamagical project by magicians involved with the Desert Wars to enhance Adepts without using Qi Foci. Afterall a Qi Foci can’t be used by a second adept. This way mercenary companies could boost their adepts without losing the benefits later when the adept dies or retires. The focus refines what is already there and is not a replacement for skill.

A Charm Focus temporarily increases your effective Charisma rating for the purposes of any tests involving Charisma. For instance it would not effect a conjurer’s number of spirits they can bind as that is not a test even though it is limited by Charisma. The maximum Force of this Focus is three at the moment though millions of nuyen are being spent to improve this limit.

Charm Foci take the form of flashy jewelry, earrings, vests, hats, glasses, and even things like a platinum tooth or a tongue piercing. The telesma is always a noticeable and memorable item and has a distinctive style per the negative quality. If it is hidden from view it does nothing to aid the owner.

The invention of the Charm Focus was a factor behind the meteoric rise of Horizon to megacorporate AAA status. Already the Charm Focus has become a very popular sign of status among the extremely wealthy with magical talent especially those involved in politics be it corporate or government. Megastars and wannabe megastars with the bare minimum of magical talent required to bond with a focus from trid stars to news anchors are liquidating their fortunes to get themselves in the long line of buyers.

A Genius Focus temporarily increases your effective Logic rating for the purposes of any tests involving Logic. The maximum Force of this Focus is three. This focus overrides the benefits of Cerebral Boosters so whichever rating is higher is the only one that applies.

Invented by the Great Dragon Schwartzkopf at the Charles University of Prague. The research team compared before and after astral photographs of magicians before they received cultured bioware enhancements. By mimicking how the astral form changes to match the new physical form the team were able to make the physical form match the astral and achieve the same goal. At the moment because Cerebral Boosters are limited to just Rating 3 the researchers haven’t been able to surpass this as they don’t have any material to reverse engineer.

The focus often takes on draconic, air/winds, and lightning imagery whether it is a scarf, torque, or a headband and is normally worn near the head.

A Muse Focus temporarily increases your effective Intuition rating for the purposes of any tests involving Intuition. The maximum Force of this Focus is three. The focus overrides the benefits of Cerebellum Booster so whichever rating is higher is the only one that applies.

Invented by a professor of art history in her garage; Doctor Alkonis was searching for the nature or origin of creativity and may have found it via magical stimulation of the astral form’s cerebellum much like scientists discovered with boosting processing in the cerebellum via cultured bioware.

This focus often seems innocuous and could be a cameo locket necklace of a loved one which inspires or an armband with musical bells that hit the right tone with the right movement to put a dancer or a painter in the right frame of mind to create.

A Stalwart Focus temporarily increases your effective Body and Strength for the purposes of any tests involving those attributes. The maximum Force of this Focus is three. This focus is compatible with other means of enhancements and is of course limited to the +4 Augmentation maximum rule. As this just increases Body for the purposes of tests it doesn’t increase any derived component of body like additional boxes on the physical damage track.

Most often taking the form of gauntlets, belts, feather headdresses, armbands, and helmets this focus can take any form.

A popular focus for the elite Sioux special forces the “Wildcats” and even apocalyptic cults from Norway. Rumors say both groups ended up inventing this in parallel. Few are found outside of the two organizations though they are a sign of high status among the trolls of the Black Forest Kingdom.

A Sublime Weapon Focus provides its Force as a dice pool bonus with melee attack tests using the weapon. It also enhances Accuracy and AP by its Force/2 rounded up. There are currently three types of Sublime Weapon Foci. Whatever the type this focus when active is very noticeable in the physical and astral realms as it is wreathed in an aura appropriate for the type of focus.

An Elemental Weapon Focus adds to the Weapon an Elemental Effect (SR5 p 170).

There are two main types of Elemental Effects which are penetrative and impact. A Water or Blast effect may knockdown a target easier and cause additional stun damage. A penetrative effect increases physical damage by various methods like having a flaming sword or an electric trident.

Impact elemental effects like Water and Blast are put on blunt weapons and add twice their Force to the DV for the purpose of the Knock down called shot and add their Force to determine Knockdown on a normal attack in addition to having an Elemental Effect. The weapon adds its Force to the DV if the target is knocked down.

Penetrative elemental effects like Fire and Acid are put on slashing or piercing weapons. If the modified damage value of an attack causing physical damage is greater than AP modified armor rating then add the Force to the DV minus the appropriate specialized protection. (Ignore this if the DV is less than the specialized protection)

Depending on the elemental type the weapon may have secondary effects when penetrating armor or even just when hitting armor as in the case of Acid. The Artificer must know a spell of that Elemental type to create the Focus.

A Bane Weapon Focus adds to the Weapon a Slay/Slaughter Effect in addition to the standard Sublime Weapon bonuses. When used against the species or type targeted by the Bane Focus directly in combat add twice the Force of the Bane to the weapon’s DV.

Additionally add the Bane’s Force as additional situational bonus dice for any opposed Tests targeting the Bane category when the Focus is active. A Bane focus in the hands of an expert in Intimidation can be especially terrifying to the target.

The Artificer must know the specific Slay or Slaughter spell targeting a type for death.

Rumors are common with this type of rare focus. It is known that many megacorps and governments have Insect Spirit Bane Foci for their elite best of the best HTR teams and that developing this manatechnology was a major goal of Ares.

There is a tale about an artificer who crafted many of these Bane’s against Shedim after discovering a payload of naturally occurring orichalcum in his backyard. He had discovered his child had been possessed by a Master Shedim and wanted to make sure people had weapons to defend themselves. At least half a dozen artifacts were made before the Shedim found out and the artificer disappeared. These were mailed to different parts of the world with crafting instructions.

People who are initially neutral emotionally toward the Bane type tend to over time grow more and more inimical toward their Bane. For those already negatively charged against the Bane’s type the process towards antipathy is much quicker. The character wielding a Bane facing focus addiction can easily become irrational and quickly develop a Prejudice against the Bane type and receive no karma for the negative quality.

A Toxic Greater Weapon Focus adds to the Weapon an attack that corrupts the body and astral form of anyone who isn’t aligned with Toxic energies. The Artificer must be a toxic magician to craft this focus. Anyone who binds to this Focus will inevitably have their essence altered until their magic becomes as Toxic as the Focus. Taking a physical wound from a Toxic focus will require a Test resisting anaphylactic shock if it is a Pollutant or resist Radiation per rules on page 105 of the Street Grimoire.

A Combat, Detection, Health, Illusion, and Manipulation Focus grants bonus dice equal to its Force for any Tests involving its Category of Spells. Spellcasting, Ritual Spellcasting, and Counterspelling and also assists Conjuring Tests involving the type of Spirit related to that category of magic that their Tradition can summon. It can also sustain a spell of its type up to the Force of the Focus.

An Initiate Focus adds its Force to the mage’s Grade for the determining of effects for any Metamagics that she might know.

An Invocation Focus acts by increasing the character’s effective Magic Rating with most types of Conjuring tests and when using the Invocation Ritual to buff their Spirits to Great Form. For Banishing it raises the Limit by the Force of the Focus instead of adding dice.


Add +1 Availability and 20% to the prices of Magical Compounds in published materials because of the heightened demand and low supply following the devastation to the Talismonger industry during the Dragon Civil War. Loss of all draconic reagents and telesma plus the loss of hundreds of top tier Enchanters, Talismongers, and Talisleggers who used or dealt with draconic reagents has had a staggering effect on the enchanting economy.

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

For example:

A minor Force 4 Focus with a telesma of a gold wedding ring with a sapphire setting an OR of 5 and a value of 1,400¥ might retail for 10,000¥ at a Talismonger’s shop.

From Sendaz on the dumpshock Forum:

“For the more bashful shapeshifter (one raised among humans perhaps?) tired of the ‘where’s my pants’ game, might we suggest the Wear & Wolf Line from Talbot & Chaney Fashions Ltd which features a new line of shapeshifter friendly apparel.

Using sustainably sourced shapechanger fur specially enchanted and woven into tasteful Apparel Foci designed to be bonded to it’s owner, these pieces transform along with the busy shapeshifter on the go (often taking the form of a collar or otherwise woven among their fur/feather/etc in their primal form…).

These outfits have no intrinsic armor value beyond normal clothing themselves (Armor 1-2 tops at GM discretion) and start at Force 3 rating so as to avoid embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions in some of the wilder areas like Chicago and similar.

Rumours abound of a projected ‘War Wolf’ Line, utilizing shifter bone and shells(presumably from a weretortoise or similar) to increase the armor potential of the range, however this still remains on the drawing boards at present as well as being very controversial due to sourcing issues.”

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.

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


Shadowrun Overhaul: Magic: Focus Creation

The current rules for Focus creation from ability to make and the costs of the goods don’t make much sense to me. For one thing there would be an huge proliferation of low force foci and there is really no reason to create from an economic standpoint or from a magician’s standpoint most of the foci or to even use most foci other than Power and Weapon. By changing the costs and formula equations there is now a difference in how difficult it is to design and create different Foci. I also added more options and levels to Foci giving more choices plus options for beginning artificers to actually make low level foci and survive.

In another post I covered putting a limit on Magical Lodges equal to the magician’s Arcana + Magic.

In another post I will elaborate on Telesma rules but for the purposes here assume a normal mundane item has a Telesma Rating of 0.

Telesma size:
Size 0 a ring, earring, amulet or small medicine bag. An item with a Concealibility of -6 to -4.
Size 1: a wand, rod, elaborate necklace or small weapon with a reach of 0. An item with a Concealibility of -2 to +2.
Size 2: a crown or a weapon with a reach of 1. An item with a Concealibility of +4 to +6.
Size 3: a weapon with a reach of 2, full body armor, or a tower shield. An item with a Concealibility of greater than +8.

Focus Multiplier is the “Cost in Karma” depicted on page 318. For example a Qi Focus is Force x 2 in karma thus the multiplier would be 2.

Focus Formulas:

It is assumed that a Formula has a narrow depiction of the Telesma and that most that available on the market are generic lik ring or an Horizon Rapier or a Evo Combat Axe. Thus a weapon focus formula with a Force of 3 using a MCT Katana would need to be retooled to use an awakened Telesma made from a dragon’s talon into a dagger.

Create Original Formula: Arcana + Magic [Astral] (Force x Focus Multiplier + Telesma Rating, 1 day) Extended test.

Retool Formula for different Telesma: Arcana + Magic [Astral] (Force + Telesma Rating, 1 day) Extended test.

Retool Formula for different Tradition: Arcana + Magic [Astral] (Force, 1 day) Extended test.

Formula for upgrading an existing Focus: Arcana + Magic [Astral] (Change of Force + Telesma Rating, 1 day)

Formula for stacking a Focus:  Arcana + Magic [Astral] 2(Original Formula for effect 1 + Original Formula for effect 2…, 1 day)


Step 5: Task equation changed.

Artificing + Magic + Telesma Rating + Telesma Size [Lodge] v Focus Multiplier + Object Rating (OR)

Step 6: No change.

Step 7: Determine status of Focus.

Net hits must equal or surpass the Focus Formula’s Force Rating or the Focus is flawed or can fail completely in which case the telesma is ruined for any further artificing. For upgrading the net hits must equal or surpass the change in Force and Karma spent is the difference in cost between the original and the new + 1 Force. So a Qi Focus upgrading from 2 to 5 would have a change of 3 Force +1 for upgrading x 2 for the Focus Multiplier with a total of 8 Karma being spent.

Missing by 1 hit drops the Focus down 1 level of sophistication or has a minor flaw like not working in complete darkness. Missing by two drops the Focus by 2 levels of sophistication or has a major flaw like not working at night.

For Weapon and Qi Foci failure to reach the required net hits either results in failure or the focus has a flaw.

Types of Foci: (-represents a loss of one level of sophistication, — two levels and so on)

Qi x2

Weapon x4

Power x6

-Enchanting x3

–By Skill x2

—By Specialization x1

—By Specific Preparation or Formula x1

-Sorcery x5

–By Skill x3

–By Spell Category x2

–By Specialization x2

—By Specific Spell x1

-Conjuring x4

–By Skill x3

–By Spirit Category x2

–By Specialization x2

—By Specific type of Spirit

-Metamagic x3

–By Specific Metamagic x1


Cost of a Focus: (1 + Force^2) x Focus Multiplier x Object Rating of Telesma x 200 + cost of Telesma

Availability of a Focus: 2(Force) + Focus Multiplier.