WoED20: Reloaded

I talked a few times last year about my plans for a World of Ere d20 roleplaying game. Things got a bit off pace with my work on Soul Battery, but don’t think I’ve forgotten about it. In fact, Iv’e been giving it some thought and some elements of my design philosophy need to change.

Namely, the idea of three classes fitting all and the skill-based class.

The former just proved to be a non-starter once I really got down to brass tacks. Spirit docents especially turned out to not fit the caster mold; they have spirit companions, could focus on skills, martial prowess or spellcasting, and can hotswap spirit companions, meaning their spells known is far more malleable. At the same time, bards and loremen get all sorts of natural bennies that aren’t spells, plus can ‘fake’ spells and screw with probability. Again, they wouldn’t have the same set-up as other casters.

So the new plan is to have several more classes and take one of the few good ideas from D&D 5e and have subclasses in each class. Only in my case, these will come in the form of feat trees.

Classes I have in mind: Combatant (Each weapon type will have its own set of feats), Rogue (Thief, Rake, and Assassin types), Mage (Spellworker and Inborn types—one that studies and builds spells, one whose spells are a natural power), Bard (Chronicler, Troubadour, and Charlitan types), Spirit Docent (choice of companions leads to different types) and Cleric (Divine Channel and Templar types).

For those of you who miss the Barbarian, Combatants with have a feat tree that simulates Rage or Hyperfocus (same thing mechanically) and a Prestige Class that makes it more powerful. Paladins are replaced by Templars, and Druids are a feat tree clerics can take.

Feats are going to be the center of character building for WoED20. Every choice you make for your character will open up more sets of feats. At level 1, you get three feats (+1 for humans because of course) and get to pick general, class, race and background specific feats.

I’m using feats in part to replace 4e’s encounter powers. For example, a 1st level character can take the following:


Your allies trust your understanding of battlefield tactics enough to take orders from you.

Requirements: Int 11+

Benefit: Once per combat, as a standard action, you may choose to allow one ally that can hear or see you to make on standard or one move action.

Special: You may now take feats with the [Tactical] tag.

Yes, that’s the 4e Warlord reborn as a general feat tree. It’s pretty nice for any character, but check this out. Drawing from the Book of 9 Swords, WoE introduces Battles Stances, ‘modes’ you can set your character to that give you a certain extra ability or bonus. You can only have on Battle Stance at a time, and you can’t take a 5ft step on a turn you change stances. That let’s me do things like this:

Closing the Trap [Battle Stance, Tactical]

Requirements: Tactician

Benefit: Once per turn, when you hit a creature with a melee attack while in the Closing The Trap stance, you may choose one ally adjacent to you or the creature you hit. That ally may take a 5ft step. This movement does not count as that ally’s 5ft step for the turn.

Voila, an OGL friendly mimic of the Warlord’s Wolfpack tactics (an at-will attack Warlords had that let you move an adjacent ally before or after an attack. CtT differs in that you have to hit to make it work). The best part? It’s a general feat. That means with two (any you’ll get plenty, I promise) feats, a combatant can move their rogue pal into flanking position, or a templar cleric can get their allies out harm’s way before the opponent’s next action.

Battle Stances as a concept also let me have some fun with common favored combat styles. For example, I’m remodeling my beloved Two-Weapon Fighting:

The WoE Two-Weapon Fighting rules are this:

If you wield a weapon in your off-hand, you may make an additional attack that weapon as part of your attack action. If you do, all attacks you make as part of that action suffer a penalty based on the size of that weapon: one-handed = -8, light = -4.

This is modified by a stance:

Two-Weapon Combat [Battle Stance]

Requirement: Dex 13+

Benefit: While in the Two-Weapon Combat battle stance; if you wield a weapon in your off-hand, you may make an additional attack that weapon as part of your attack action. If you do, all attacks you make as part of that action suffer a penalty based on the size of that weapon: one-handed = -4, light = -2.

Special: You can only enter this battle stance if you are weilding a weapon in each hand, or a double weapon.

And this in turn is modified by:

Dual Blade Adept

Requirement: Two-Weapon Combat, Light Blade proficiency

Benefit: While in the Two-Weapon Combat battle stance and wielding two Light Blades, you gain a +1 to damage rolls per 5 character levels to a minimum of +1.


Off-hand Parry

Requirement: Two-Weapon Combat

Benefit: While in the Two-Weapon Combat battle stance, the first parry attempt you make does not use up your reaction* for the turn.

*Reaction is an add-on to that AoO system. Every character gets one reaction every turn in addition to move and standard actions. This can be used to make an AoO, parry, block, or dive for cover.

Plus many more. Battle Stances represent your basic fighting style while martial techniques represent special moves. 0-level techniques are the kind you get to use all the time while higher level ones require focus points (the martial equivalent of spell points).

By the way, everyone has spell points and focus points, whether you know techniques or arrays and regardless of class. This is because you can just take a feat or even buy ritual/plan instructions to be able to pull off non-combat spells and techniques. By giving everyone FP and SP, I make sure everyone has the required resources at all times. Of course, you get more bonus FP and SP by being a mage or combatant. Clerics use focus points to cast, by the way, because they’re using a religious rite, not tapping their own power.

Oh, and one more battle stance for that old classic:

Sword and Board [Battle Stance]

Requirement: Wis 11+

Benefit: While in the Sword and Board battle stance, with a shield in your offhand, the first block attempt you make does not use up your reaction for the turn.

Augmented by…

Shield Bash

Requirements: Sword and Board

Benefit: Once per turn, while in the Sword and Board battle stance, you may make an additional attack of opportunity with your shield. This attack does not use up your reaction for the turn.

Basically, Sword and Board makes you a bastion who can block more attacks and punish anyone who tries to go around. And yes, all shields will have bash damage listed. A shield can be used as a TWF weapon in this way.

As for the skill-user deal, as I said, I scrapped the class, but kept the idea—I’m just not going to try to make all skills equal.

For example, I’m taking Feint out of Bluff and making it part of Slight of Hand and calling the skill Misdirection because misdirection and lying are different skill sets. This then gets you some sweet-ass Rogue feats like:

Duplicitous Strike

Requirements: Cha 11+

Benefit: Once per combat, when you make an attack roll, you may make a Misdirection roll vs. your target’s Perception. If you succeed, the target is considered flat-footed for the purposes of that attack. The roll automatically fails if used against a mindless target.

By the way, Sneak Attack is optional for rogues. You get Roguish Tactics at first level and every third level thereafter (this in addition to bonus feats) that let you take more sneak damage OR things like pushing, tripping, disarming, dazing, or analyzing (which grants you a bonus to attack rolls against them for the rest of the fight) foes instead when you hit them while they’re flatfooted.

As for other skills, I’ve also combined Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidate into Social Interaction (you can get bonuses specifically to intimidating or lying though) and that allows me to give you this feat, strong enough for any character, made for a Rakish Rogue:

Banter Distraction

You talk too much. Which is exactly the point.

Requirement: Cha 13+

Benefit: Once per combat, as a free action, you may make a Social Interaction roll against one target’s Social Interaction. If you succeed, the target suffers a penalty to attack and damage rolls against your allies equal to 1 for every five points by which you beat their check to a maximum of 5. This penalty continues until the end of combat or until the target hits you with an attack roll or you fail a save vs a spell or effect used by the target.

The roll fails automatically against mindless creatures or creatures with whom you cannot effectively communicate.

Yes. The Spider-man trick. And if they hit you, it stops working.

One more word on WoE combat stuff before we move on to utilities: You know what most gamers hate? Grapple rules. I hate ’em too, but what to do? Treat it like AC. Behold the combat DC:

Combat Difficulty Class

Every character has a Combat Difficulty Class (CDC) that represents their ability to detect, react to and evade common combat maneuvers such as grapples, trips and disarms. Your base CDC is equal to 10 + your Base Attack Bonus (BaB) + your STR modifier. Some choices you make for your character such as feats and classes can give you bonuses either directly to CDC or applied against specific actions (grapple, trip, disarm). For example, a character or monster with four legs gains a +4 CDC vs trip attempts.

Grapple [Base Technique*]

You grab or otherwise entangle your opponent with your limbs or weapon.

Make an attack against your opponent with your BAB + STR vs the target’s CDC. On a hit, the target is grappled**. While your opponent is grappled, you may spend you attack action each turn to use this technique to continue the grapple with a +2 bonus to the attack. If you attempt to move while maintaining the grapple check, you do not gain this bonus.

Special: If you are wielding a weapon with the flexible keyword, you gain a +2 bonus to all grapple rolls.

Special: You gain an additional +2 to grapple rolls for each size category larger than your opponent you are. You suffer a -2 penalty to grapple rolls for each size modifier smaller you are than your opponent.

*Basic Techniques are techniques all characters can use. They do not cost FP.

**Grappled is a status condition. A grappled character has their move speeds reduced to 0, cannot cast spells with a somatic component, or attack with any weapon other than unarmed strikes and armor spikes.

And done. Is it realistic? I honestly don’t care as long as it’s fun and encourages players to try grapples, trips and disarms.

Of course, RPGs aren’t all about combat. While I intend to leave roleplaying to the DM and players instead of mechanics, that doesn’t mean non-combat powers shouldn’t be a thing. These can be anything from feats and abilities to aid in adventuring, to social interaction (not the skill… maybe I should give the skill a different name…), to quality of life issues. These are Utility Feats and characters get a feat at first level and every three levels thereafter that they can ONLY use for Utility, Racial and Background feats.

Here are a few such feats that don’t effect combat, but may be quite useful nonetheless:

Excellent Cook [Utility]

You don’t just cook tasty meals, you know how to cook the kind of meals that keep your party going through the day.

Benefit: By taking one hour to select ingredients and cook them, you can create one of the following special meals for your party once per day:

Hearty Stew: This filling stew is healthful and delicious. Members of a party consuming hearty stew gain a +1 to Fortitude saves for the next three hours.

Traveling Skewers: These kabobs are meant to be eaten on the move. A party that consumes traveling skewers travels farther on a given day, as if their slowest member’s (or their mount’s) base speed was increased by 5ft.

Decadent Desert: At the end of the meal, this special treat leaves everyone in a better mood and with greater camaraderie. Members of a party consuming decadent desert grant an additional +1 bonus when successfully aiding another party member, and on all rolls that affect an ally (for example rolls on healing spells) for the next three hours.

Bracing Beverage: You prepare a drink that keeps your allies sharp. Members of a party served bracing beverages gain a +1 to Perception and Reflex saves for the next three hours.

Brain Food: This simple but balanced meal promotes clear thought. Members of a party that consumes brain food gains a +1 to all Knowledge skills and Will saves for the next three hours.

Special: You may only make special meals if you have sufficient rations on hand to feed all members of your party for a day. Those rations are expended to make the special meal.

Find the Mark [Utility]

Your skills at manipulating people allow you to easily separate the hard cases from the rubes.

Benefit: With ten minutes of observation, you become aware of how easily you can manipulate tr misdirect every creature within 30ft based on the chart below:

No challenge – Perception 20 points below your Misdirection or Social Interaction 20 points below yours.

Chump – Perception 15 points below your Misdirection or Social Interaction 15 points below yours.

Fool – Perception 10 points below your Misdirection or Social Interaction 10 points below yours.

Even Chance – Perception 5 points below or above your Misdirection or Social Interaction 5 points below or above yours.

Challenge – Perception 10 points above your Misdirection or Social Interaction 10 points above yours.

Hard Case – Perception 15 points above your Misdirection or Social Interaction 15 points above yours.

Nigh Impossible – Perception 20 points above your Misdirection or Social Interaction 20 points above yours.

Extra-Dimensional Storage I [Utility]

A simple manipulation of vox creates a small fold in space where you can store things.

Requirement: Vox Affinity

Benefit: You gain access to an extra-dimensional space where you can store objects. The space can hold as much volume as a standard backpack, but inside the space, time does not pass, so lanterns can remain lit and food does not spoil while stored within. Putting an object into storage, or removing an object from storage is a full round action.

Upon your death, all items stored in your extra-dimensional storage appears in a square adjacent to your corpse.

And of course, every race on Ere has a suite of feats that only they can take. Let’s check out two Lasconti feats:

Webspinner [Lasconti Racial Feat]

You’ve learned how to quickly spin your natural silk into rope at the cost of durability.

Benefit: Once per day, you can create 30ft of spider silk rope, a silk net, or a silk sheet from your own silk. The created object grants a +1 bonus to any skill they are used in conjunction with. After six hours, the silk becomes stiff before flaking apart into dust. A Perception check DC 10 identifies the created object as lasconti silk and thus worth 0gp.

Webshooter [Lasconti Racial Feat]

After learning more about your silk, you can now fire thin, strong strands at your enemies.

Benefit: Once per combat, you can make a ranged attack against a target within 30ft. On a hit, the target is entangled. Breaking out of the web requires a standard action and a STR check with a DC equal to 10 + your CON modifier.

As you can see, simply being a lasconti changes how the game is played for you because you can make some gear and/or entangle opponents once per fight for free by picking the right feats. None of the other races can do that.

Oh, and apropos of nothing, familiars and animal companions are obtained and upgraded via feats too. You can get a bear at first level, but this is Ere, so it needs you to carry it around in your arms most of the time. By 20th level though, you can have a magic triceratops who can charge through stone walls like a proto-bird Kool-aid Man.

Meanwhile, Background Feats give you bennies tied to who you are and where you come from. These can be anything from local bonuses to skills you normally wouldn’t have. The DM is encouraged to allow or disallow Background feats depending on if they fit the character’s actual background.

A few samples:

Someone’s Personal Hero [Background]

You did a big favor for an innkeeper, barman or merchant and they are forever in your debt.

Benefit: Choose one place of business that is one of the types from the following list to receive the listed benefits.

Inn/Hotel – As long as there is room available, you may stay in the best room at the chosen place of business for 1gp. Meals are not included.

Restaurant – You are always given the first open table at the restaurant and you and up to four allies can eat there for free for one meal a day. All other meals have their costs reduced by 10%

Tavern/Bar/Alehouse – You may order one free round of drinks for free per day from this place of business. Other drinks have their costs reduced by 10%.

Shop – All non-magical items from this shop have their prices reduced by 10% for you. Selling any item at this shop grants you a base 75% of the base price rather than 50% before haggling.

Service – All services provided by the place of business (item enchanting, crafting, etc) cost 5% less and require one less day to perform.

In addition, you gain a +2 background bonus to Social Interaction rolls when interacting with the staff and owner of that place of business and a +1 background bonus to the same when interacting with regular patrons of the place of business.

Special: You may take this feat multiple times. Each time you do, it applies to a different place of business.

I Have Connections [Background]

You are able to call on old friend, co-workers, and informants all over the world.

Benefit: By taking a day to hunt down people you know in a given city, you gain a +2 bonus to all Knowledge, Social Interaction, and Misdirection rolls you make in that city for the next five days.

Child of the Streets [Background]

You grew up having to fend for yourself and that meant you stole to survive.

Benefit: You gain a +2 background bonus to Misdirection rolls to pick someone’s pocket or conceal stolen goods, and to Thievery or Mechanics rolls to open locks. You gain a +1 background bonus to Social Interaction rolls when interacting with others who grew up or are growing up on the streets.

In addition, you automatically succeed in Survival rolls made to find food and shelter in urban environments.

So, I’d like to hear what you think so far! Next week, I’ll post the rough mock-up of the Rogue class and you’ll have a better idea of just how many feats characters get (it’s a lot) and how the classes work. Until then, I’d love to hear some feedback!

About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter. You can also purchase his books from all major platforms from the bookstore
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  1. I see Brin likes picking Background feats.

    Now, I love having a lot of options. Saying something like “you get three feats at level one” and seeing all the different things you can do with those feats (get new combat options! get magic tricks even if you aren’t a spellcaster!) makes me grin from ear to ear.

    With that said, some people (weirdos, I say) don’t really want to read and memorize three hundred feats before they get to bash in heads. Also, the GM needs time to make NPCs. Comments?

    Also, if you were unaware, Pathfinder basically did the thing you’re thinking of for grappling, except they call it Combat Maneuver Bonus and Combat Maneuver Defense. Although they gave an advantage to defense: you add both your Str and your Dex to your CMD.

    • I’d note, in addition, that there are a lot of fairly detailed critiques of Pathfinder’s CMB/CMD system. Most agree that the basic concept is good, but a lot would also say that the execution was sorely lacking, partly because of the basic rules, partly because of subtleties in the skill system, and partly because of the metagame of what monsters are commonly used and what their CMDs turn out to be. So it’s something that deserves a careful mathematical analysis.

    • NPCs are made the 4e way: choose level, chose type, consult table, flavor powers. They don’t get built like PCs unless they are PCs.

  2. I love the background and utility feats. Having skills that matter outside of combat being relevant is something I always want to see more of.
    In response to my esteemed colleague Kazorh, those guys that don’t want to see all the *awesome* stuff they can do may be attempting to play the wrong type of game. However, I say this as a man who gets sucked in very easily by character creation, not an objective observer.

  3. With there being so many feats and them being so strong, there’s pretty much bound to be many ways to combine them in clever ways that pulverize any level-appropriate opponent.
    And sadly it seems that none of those are likely to include the sort of weapons I like. Except maybe the perennial fantasy favourite, the thrown halfling. In theory could be rifles, too, but guns always suck in settings where they’re not allowed to be meaningfully better than a pair of steak knives.

    • There’s a favored weapon for the Combatant that is ‘anything that isn’t explicitly a weapon’. And there will be feats for Jackie Channing it up.

  4. It might be interesting but attempts to redo D&D 3.x (aka fantasy heartbreakers) don’t tend to make much money. The exception is one with a whole organization writing adventures for it, Pathfinder. I don’t think you will make another exception writing on your own.

    If you want a list of examples of fantasy heartbreakers I could write one up. My point is that just doing the rules better than D&D isn’t enough.

    • It’s not really about money, it’s about letting people play WoE ‘right’, as in in the style I designed the world. 3e won’t work. 4e won’t work and 5e… will so not work it’s not funny thanks to the lower magic et al. I really don’t expect it making more than a couple hundred dollars–I mean it’s barely going to have any artwork or anything in it, it’s raw rules like Genius: the Transgression.

      I’m hacking it from Pathfinder largely because that’s ‘closest’ to what I want and OGL.

      • Before I comment at all on the actual article (which I am in the process of doing), I will first defend 5e: There are not a few good things about 5e. Just about everything is good about 5e, Mr. I’ve-never-played-the-game-or-even-read-the-books-before (unless you have since we last spoke). Also, 5e doesn’t have a lower magic level than anything else. Magic could be as common and used as it is on Ere- it depends on the game. What it does have is a lower magic ITEM expectancy level. You can go through the whole game without ever getting a single magic item and be just fine. Or you can get tons and tons of magic items, and that’s fine too (unless you’re giving a +3 item to low leveled characters, which is way OP). You just don’t need a +10 bonus to be any good (you don’t need any bonus due to bounded accuracy), and there’s no such thing a Linear Fighters and Quadratic Wizards anymore.
        5e RANT: OVER.

        • I’ve read the online PHB now. It is lower magic than Ere though. The Conc duration buffs, the lower general power level. And the completion of WotC’s fear of flight all factor into this. And the magic item thing urks me to no end. If I’m not grabbing a Handy Haversack by level 5, I have no interest.

          Of course, I made the haversack a feat you can theoretically take at first level, so you can see where I’m going.

          • One thing I will point out, however, is that the online PHB is a playtest copy. It’s not the final product, so take it with a grain of salt. That being said, yes, I suppose in a way five he is lower powered then Ere. But 5e was written to be a balanced game, Ere was written to be a cool book.
            As for the magic item thing, something like a Handy Haversack is no big deal. Presumably your DM would know this and be accommodating. The real difference in magic items is in +x items, and items that can cast spells.
            As for the flight, I point you one again to 5e’s core principle: balance.

          • 5e’s balance issue is the same problem 3.5 had and to a certain extent, 4e: They try and acieve balance by reducing the power of the powerful classes instead of making the weaker classes more awesome. If a big, bad Bar-Bar could huck his axe at a retreating flier and have a prayer of hitting, there wouldn’t be a problem. Same with the magic levels: if fighters got cool combat maneuvers, it wouldn’t matter that wizards got cool spells. But they don’t want to give fighters nice things, so wizards get nerfed in the wrong ways. (right way: don’t make Tenser’s Transformation, Natural Spell, etc).

            Really it comes down to my design philosophy being a lot different from Monte Cook’s I didn’t like his ideas on 3e (Book of Vile Darknes, for example) and I’m naturally not happy with it now that he’s back. His style is Greyhawk, mine is Eberron or Exalted.

          • I’d say differently. Magic is nerfed because magic was nuts. There’s no way to make a fair game without nerfing it to some degree, and bringing everyone up to that power level would be ridiculous. To use 3.X terms, it would make everyone teir 1 very quickly, and that would be silly. But no caster class is bad. It’s different than 3.X and 4e, but it still works really well. And Big Bad Bar-Bar could chuck his axe at a retreating flier and definitely have a prayer of hitting. And actually, the battle master fighter does have combat maneuvers.

            Monte Cook (who I had to Google) left WotC in 2012, so as far as I know, he had almost nothing to do with the final project. The lead designers for 5e were Mike Mearls and Jeremy Crawford. And 5e is playable no matter what style you like. The books themselves default to the baseline assumption of what the DM’s guide refers to as “Heroic Fantasy,” which is basically your typical fantasy setting. But any style you want to play will work just fine.

          • Cooke’s design philosophies are what Mearls cited as how he was going about 5e.

            As for my style working with 5e, I honestly haven’t seen it from what I’ve read. This isn’t saying it’s a bad system, just not the one I want to play. I like magic items and high power. I don’t like nerfing when I can empower. It’s not like 3e really works for me for this either, which is the whole point of the new system.

  5. I think the most interesting part to me was the end, but I’m a sucker for anything that ties characterization and gameplay together more tightly, so that’s no surprise. One thing that I do like is that all of the examples you gave also suggest ways that a player or party could be given hooks for quests (main or side), as well as getting information and other benefits.

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