Alignment: Alignment no longer exists. This obviously has an effect on some abilities and classes, most notably Clerics and Paladins. Generally, any ability that references Good or Evil can be changed to “someone who is in direct opposition to your ideals.” In this way, a Paladin’s Smite ability changes drastically based on which deity the paladin serves. As an example, say a Paladin of freedom is breaking into a prison to free a group of rebels that have acted out against their tyrannical government. Another Paladin, this one serving a god of law, attempts to halt the escape. In a scenario like this, it’d be possible for the Paladins to smite one another since the other is working against the tenets of his faith. That’s just one example for one ability that still functions regardless of the absence of alignment. There are several more spells and abilities that have been changed and I’ll go over the changes as they come up.
Spells & Abilities
Resurrection: Resurrection simply doesn’t exist. Anything that would bring a dead person back to life has been removed. This includes spells like True Resurrection, Reincarnation, and the use of a Miracle/Wish to bring back the dead. However, reanimation is still in place. Undead still exist but intelligent undead do not.
Teleportation: Long range teleportation isn’t possible. Spells that teleport the caster short distances (Dimension Door) are fine. Spells like Teleport and Greater Teleport are not.
Experience: Before an adventure begins, I determine a pre-set amount of XP that the adventure will be worth. I typically base this off how much the planned encounters would reward and adjust for extra challenges and other factors. This is the reward players will earn regardless of how they complete the adventure. Killing everything in your path to get the ancient artifact of power offers the same reward as convincing the inhabitants to simply just give it to you. Extra experience is offered to players that role-play well, use teamwork, and come up with creative solutions to problems. This bonus will never exceed 10% of the adventure reward to prevent too great of a gap from forming between characters.
Massive Damage: Massive damage doesn’t apply. By the time characters are taking hits for 50 damage, they will probably have the resources to survive them so I say “Let them survive it then.” No point having a character make a fortitude save and then rolling a 1. I hate instant death effects. Which leads me to…
Instant Death: In the same vein as Massive Damage, I dislike abilities that can ruin a character’s day so swiftly even if they do everything right. Abilities that would instantly slay a character instead reduce them to -1 HP and bleeding. This allows abilities like Phantasmal Killer to still remain effective without killing someone who had a few bad dice rolls.
“Boss” NPCs: This is something I’ve adopted from 4th edition D&D. Enemies meant to be more of a challenge are given special abilities and more HP that they normally wouldn’t have based on their class levels. This keeps the BBEG interesting without forcing me to give them tons of class levels to make a single enemy a challenge for the entire group.