At the request of a reader and for the general convenience of my players, this is an update to the Aurikesh house rules. It’s been five years, and I’ve had time to see the effects of things in play.
4d6 drop lowest for one column. Roll 2d6 for a safety-net column. Pick either one, and arrange stats to taste.
Safety Net Stats (2d6)
2: 15, 14, 13, 12, 12, 11
3: 15, 15, 13, 12, 11, 10
4: 16, 15, 12, 11, 11, 10
5: 16, 14, 14, 12, 11, 8
6: 16, 16, 12, 10, 10, 10
7: 17, 15, 12, 11, 10, 8
8: 17, 14, 12, 11, 10, 10
9: 18, 13, 13, 10, 10, 8
10: 18, 14, 11, 10, 10, 8
11: 18, 12, 12, 10, 10, 10
12: 18, 12, 12, 12, 10, 8
This chart is a minor tweak to the one I’ve been using, because it never quite stopped bugging me to have a 10-11 line. The current 12 line is a new array. My other option is to turn it into a 1d10 roll, but at this point I sort of like weighting the odds toward the 6, 7, and 8 arrays.
After many years of using this ability score generation method, it continues to be well-received by players. It’s clearly more generous than the standard 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 array and I am honestly quite comfortable with that.
Starting Hit Points and Leveling Up
All characters receive +5 maximum hit points at 1st level, in addition to maximum hit points on their first hit die. When a character gains a level, they receive the fixed value for hit points (d6: 4, d8: 5, d10: 6, d12: 7).
Aurikesh PCs use Aurikesh races. None of their rules are the same as any standard D&D race, not even humans or goblins. I intensely dislike PH human mechanics.
New characters in Aurikesh now start at 4th level. After many years of always starting at 1st level, I increased the starting level to 4th so that one player coming in right in the middle of an adventure wouldn’t be 1st level for the showdown. With the highest-level player now 10th level, I think this is fine. This has continued into the Team Goblin spinoff game because the first PC goblin joined the Gallant Shields campaign.
Also? We’ve played a ton of tier 1 D&D. Getting to tier 2 a bit faster is fine.
Give Ground: when you take damage from a melee attack, you may spend your reaction to reduce the damage by 1d6 and move 5 feet away from the attacker. The attacker may immediately follow you into the space you just left. Neither of these moves provoke opportunity attacks.
Having some defensive way to spend your reaction is good, and if I were to rework 5e from the ground up, every character would have some kind of defensive reaction option as well as the offensive option of opportunity attacks. Several classes get something that supersedes Give Ground, but to my mind that only proves the need for this option for everyone else.
Agonizing Blast and Repelling Blast are banned.
At 5th level, choose either Eldritch Power or Thirsting Blade. If you choose Thirsting Blade, you also gain Lifedrinker at 12th level. These choices do not cost Eldritch Invocation slots.
At 1st level, your patron bestows upon you a magical secret called an arcanum. Choose one 1st-level spell from the warlock spell list as this arcanum.
You can cast your arcanum spell once without expending a spell slot. You must finish a long rest before you can do so again.
At higher levels, you gain more warlock spells of your choice that can be cast in this way: one 2nd-level spell at 3rd level, one 3rd-level spell at 5th level, one 4th-level spell at 7th level, and one 5th-level spell at 9th level. You regain all uses of your Mystic Arcanum when you finish a long rest.
Starting at 5th level, when you cast a cantrip that can target multiple creatures (even when you choose to target only one creature), add your Charisma modifier to the damage it deals on a hit or a failed save. When you cast a damaging cantrip that can’t target multiple creatures, add your warlock level to the damage it deals on a hit or on a failed saving throw.
(For more on this thought process, see here.)
Damaging cantrips deal +2 damage. This bonus is superseded by and doesn’t stack with greater bonuses to cantrip damage.
Rolling a 1 on cantrip damage is just a bummer of a turn at 1st through 4th level. That’s the whole story.
No Immunities from Class Features
If a class feature says it grants you immunity, you instead gain resistance to damage of that type, advantage on saving throws against that damage type or condition, and you can roll 1d6 and add it to the result of your saving throws against that damage or condition.
If you take nothing else away from this blog, take this: PC immunities are a bad idea. An alternate implementation that I thought about last night was replacing PC immunity with a limited usage of Legendary Resistance. For example, once per day when you fail a saving throw against the charmed condition, you pass it instead.
This list is subject to further expansion.
Funny enough, my change to the Protection fighting style got turned into the Interception fighting style in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. So, you know, whatever. Do your thing.
Paladins and rangers have access to all of the fighting styles that fighters can learn. If you want to play a two-weapon-fighting paladin or a great-weapon ranger, go for it! I do at least understand why paladins can’t get Archery, even if I don’t like that root cause in turn (i.e., it’s a trap choice because you can’t smite with arrows… which I would rather fix).
Spears and Tridents
If you are proficient with all martial weapons, when you wield a spear or trident it deals 1d8 piercing damage, and its Versatile damage increases to 1d10. (Throwing a spear or trident uses its one-hand damage.)
I can’t sum this up quickly, any more than the baseline two-weapon fighting rules can, so… it’s toward the end of this post. In brief, TWF is less reliant on bonus actions, but bonus actions are still helpful. I guess I’m now committing to implementing this as a rule in my campaign! Up to this point it’s been an idea that I’m pretty sure is right, but haven’t had much of a chance to field-test.
I call for upkeep when appropriate. Sometimes you get a few free days. Especially if a character hasn’t been active in a long while, you may get free weeks or months.
I have my own Upkeep chart, paid weekly and priced in silver. I created mechanical effects for each grade of upkeep, because I don’t think PCs feel the differences between purely descriptive upkeep values, and they all live together in the barracks of their mercenary company, so I don’t have a lot of room to describe their individual dwelling-places.
|0||-2 hit dice per day of healing available (minimum 0)|
|10||-1 hit die per day of healing available|
|100||Minimum roll on all hit dice for healing is half the die’s maximum value|
|250||+1 virtual HD per day of healing available, and minimum roll on all HD for healing is half the die’s maximum value|
|500||Gain advantage on all saving throws against disease effects, and as above|
|1000||Gain proficiency in Charisma (High Society) as long as you maintain this status, and as above|
|5000||+2 virtual hit dice per day of healing available, and as above|
|10000||Once per week, perform the Recuperate downtime action in a single long rest, and as above|
|50000||Gain one Trait of the Noble or Knight backgrounds|
There are a lot of little things that I do that are official variants or borrow from indie games. For example, if you put effort into a Charisma roll, you’re not going to get screwed by a low roll – the stakes of the roll change from pass/fail to yes-and/yes-but, or maybe yes/no-but if the NPC is particularly recalcitrant.
Inspiration (non-bardic) is a reroll rather than advantage declared ahead of time. I’m not fully satisfied with this rule. I’ve seen Inspiration rules that I really liked, but I haven’t fully committed to learning and implementing them.
I like cool stunts and I’ll work with you to support them. What that means is going to be an ad-hoc deal with room to negotiate.
The College of Creation is banned. I care about expended component costs.
The Twilight Domain is on the bubble. If you super want to play this, let’s have a talk, and be prepared for me to spend time annoyed with you in tier 2 play. It’s not personal – this subclass just negates an absurd amount of damage in that level band if the NPCs aren’t focusing fire.
And I think that’s it, but I could still be missing things. I’m sure Kainenchen, GFo, or Samhaine will remember something that has slipped my mind here. This doesn’t include the general span of additional content – added races, classes, subclasses, spells, magic items, whatever. For that, well, I need to sit down and build a proper campaign book for Aurikesh, which is way outside the scope of a single blog post.