Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Perhaps you'd like to take this up with my father?
Let's start this with a lesson. If you haven't ever read this amazing story of 4 demigods, do it now. It's long, but so very worth it.

Once I had read that story, I knew I needed to make a system like that for my own games. I needed to create PCs that could fight mortals without concern, putting them on the level of only other Demigods and the Powers of the Universe themselves.

Also, I recently saw the newest Disney film Moana, and the demigod Maui helped inspire this post. Plus, I guess Percy Jackson explores this idea a bit?

Anyway, if you have read the story, the majority of the game is character interaction, plotting, and subterfuge. Such a game would require a looser combat system and more esoteric challenges than D&D offers. At its best, D&D is a game of slow attrition, where you use up resources (spell slots, HP, healing items, charges on magic items, class abilities, etc) each day, and "strategize" about when to best employ certain tactics. The system in the story sounds like some of the less technical, more descriptive systems out there, like Torchbearer or Dungeon World.

Cool guy, even since his dad left home
The other thing to note is the players in the story seem to be looking for more of a dagger and shadow game on a cosmic scale, rather than a combat system game. They are on board with the direction of the game. Even though their group seems to fluctuate in attendance (rereading the story, it becomes very obvious when someone was out for a session or two, or when they added players on the play minor characters), they bought into it.

So, going into the game, I was faced with two challenges: first, I needed to make the games compatible with D&D. My group of players was still just starting out, and asking the players to learn a brand-new system was likely going to hurt their game, as well as the main game. Next, I needed to make the game in line with my player's style of tabletop gaming. They liked to kill things. They liked crunchy systems they could dig their teeth into and learn how to master.

In the end, I used one problem to solve another. I set the game within the D&D multiverse, with the players starting out in the Abyss. For those who aren't familiar, it's a really awful place. The epitome of evil and chaos, everything there basically exists to satisfy its own desires. It's the spawning place for demons within the D&D cosmology. This allowed the players to maintain their lust for killing while giving them the D&D system to continue to dig their teeth into.

However, the old game of attrition was no longer viable with these characters. Without going to deeply into the story, I wanted them to slowly grow in power, leveling up much like normal characters, but at an accelerated rate. And I had to make the system D&D-compatible.

So, I wrote the following rules for a D&D-compatible Demigod game.

If you don't like the idea of your demigod PCs going around and slaughtering things indiscriminately, I've put a couple suggestions at the end of the post.

D&D Demigod Characters

You can tell he's a momma's boy
Every Demigod gains the following three abilities:

Boon of Immortality
You stop aging. You are immune to any effect that would age you, and you can't die from old age. If you are killed, you reform in the hall of your parent God. Each time you roll a hit die to gain maximum hit points on a level-up, you gain hit points equal to your hit die + twice your Constitution modifier.

Boon of Greatness
At level 1, your proficiency bonus is +3. Every two levels you gain, it increases by 1, becoming +12 at level 19.

In case people don't want to do head-math
Boon of Minor Divinity
Your Ability Scores may increase up to 25. When you gain a level, you may raise one ability score by 1 in addition to any other bonuses received upon leveling up.

The Demigod also gains one other boon. This is highly dependant upon their parent god, and should reflect it accurately. I've taken the liberty of arranging the Gods in the PHB to the epic boons listed in the DMG. I also included the alternatives to Epic Boons (feat and ability score increase) since Gods of Wisdom and Knowledge would probably prefer things like that. I also left off the Boon of Planar Travel, for story reasons, but I'm sure some of these gods might be interested in using it. Alternatively, if you want a more interactive-with-the-Gods game, you could make every Demigod get a form of it limited to their God's domain.

Ability Score Improvement: Note: also increased the caps of the chosen abilities by 1 for each point given.
Chauntea, Mielikki, Beory, Fharlanghn, Paladine, Boldrei, Thrym, Re-Horakhty, Odin, Kord

Feat of choice: Note: if the feat includes an ability score increase, it is doubled
Torm, Oghma, Waukeen, Pholtus, Majere, Gilean, Aureon, Blibdoolpoolp, Dionysus, Thoth, Erathis

Combat Prowess:
Bane, Erythnul, Dol Dorn, Grolantor, Morrigan, Ares

Dimensional Travel:
Selune, Celestian, The Traveler, Sehanine Moonbow, Hermes, Bast

Beshaba, Savras, Istus, Chislev, Tiamat, Arawn, Nike, Forseti

Ilmater, St. Cuthbert, Arawai, Moradin, Manannan mac lir, Hercules, Sif

High Magic:
Lliira, Wee Jas, Solinari, Nuitari, Eadro, Math Mathonwy, Hecate, Cegilune

Helm, Pelor, Trithereon, Kiri-Jolith, Maglubiyet, Belenus, Skadi

Irresistible Offense:
Tempus, Hextor, Dol Arrah, Hruggek, Sekolah, Nuada, Aphrodite, Balder

Tymora, Olidammara, Olladra, Skerrit, Tyche, Bes, Hermod, Avandra

Magic Resistance:
Mystra, Boccob, Lunitari, Lolth, Hestia, Isis, Frey

Peerless Aim:
Bhaal, Obad-Hai, Balinor, Corellon Larethian, Artemis, Uller

Perfect Health:
Lathander, Talona, Incabulos, Semuanya, Brigantia, Demeter, Frigga, Zehir

Quick Casting:
Milil, Ralishaz, Branchala, Apollo, Hathor, Ioun

Eldath, Myrkul, Iuz, Mishakal, Bahamut, Diancecht, Osiris, Freya

Auril, Heironeous, Chemosh, The Fury, Gruumsh, Goibhniu, Hephestus, Tyr

Skill Proficiency:
Deneir, Gond, Vecna, Reorx, Onatar, Yondalla, Lugh, Athena, Imhotep

Malar, Umberlee, Shinare, Rillifane Allathil, Pan, Njord

Spell Recall:
Azuth, Rao, Zivilyn, Deep Sashelas, Oghma, Odur

Fire Soul:
Loviatar, Sune, Sirrion, Sargonnas, Surtur, Apep, Asmodeus

Night Spirit:
Kelemvor, Shar, Nerull, Takhisis, The Keeper, Hades, Anubis, Hel, Torog

Talos, Zeboim, The Devourer, Skoraeus Stonebones, The Daghdah, Zeus, Set, Thor, Melora

Silvanus, Ehlonna, Ulaa, Habbakuk, Laogzed, Dunatis, Poseidon, Sobek, Aegir

Cyric, Hiddukei, The Mockery, Garl Glittergold, Hera, Ptah, Heimdall, Raven Queen

Leira, Mask, Tharizdun, Morgion, The Shadow, Kurtulmak, Nephthys, Loki

The son of the God of ABS
Having played out this system, I've found it gets good results slowly. In D&D 5e, an extra couple points of proficiency and increasing the ability score caps is enough to make characters feel stronger even at low levels.

At high levels, of course, is where things start to break down. At high levels, it's very rare for PCs to miss any attacks or fail to cast any spells. I would to use the epic monsters homebrew thread to keep them on their toes.

Of course, combat in D&D is as much attrition as anything else. So while they have normal AC, their enemies don't last as long in combat and thus get fewer rounds to deal damage. Their improved HP from the Boon of Immortality should allow them to survive the few extra rounds needed to get their big hits in. If they can take down other Demigods, I would want it to at least be a good fight.


All cultures of Demigod welcome!
Now, if you prefer to have characters who aren't bloodthirsty maniacs bent of ruling the Abyss, and more like the characters in the story at the top of this post, I'd make a couple changes to the rules.

First, I'd tone down the power level of the gifts from their God-Parent. Make them more akin to empowered feats than Epic Boons. Maybe I'll do a post on how I would modify the feats to make them more Demigod-like.

Second, I'd get rid of the Boon of Greatness. As I said, in 5e there is already a big difference between a +3 and a +5 in ability scores, so giving players the opportunity to get up to +7 relatively quickly via ability scores should be enough to set them apart. Additionally, while an ability score tends to affect one casting method or combat style, proficiency covers a lot of areas on the character sheet and you can quickly go from characters who are slightly-empowered mortals to God-Challenging Legends. If that's your bag, then keep it in, but in the demigod story the characters were more focused on tricking the Gods than murdering them.

And if you do decide to run something like this, make sure to post the story online. With the right players, it could be truly epic and inspire new stories of greatness.
Hey Disney, your Dwayne Johnson is leaking onto the screen
Thanks for reading!

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