Enhanced Existence Truly Mortal Overhaul (5e Variant Rule)
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Enhanced Existence Truly Mortal Overhaul
This ruleset adds additional mechanics to make the game far more dangerous to players. Think of it as a sort of hard mode, wherein more status conditions, damage types, etc. are in place that don't alter the game in uncreative ways like less carry weight but still add a flavor of realism and harsh tones that can make the game quite more daunting and complex for experienced players. It is designed around the idea that mechanics that slow or stop aging for players, making them effectively immortal in the process, are simply not practical at all and only useful from a narrative standpoint. Because of this, the power of class features, boons, and items that allow for this are significantly more powerful, and should be accounted for by the DM when implementing this ruleset.
The Enhanced Existence Project is currently under a bit of an expansion. As a result, this Overhaul will also now encompass my take on certain other additional rules, mostly those pertaining to extra skills and encounter types. These will have their own page, but be listed here. No reason, and definitely not to make room for a modern/futuristic setting and a full tilt homebrew sourcebook including newer versions of all my homebrew races. No way. Who does that? Not me. Never. Maybe.
The following damage types exist but must be implemented by the DM for every circumstance they would exist in, since the main game's content doesn't and won't account for them. Because of this, each one comes with a brief explanation as to when you might use it. The whole point of these additional damage types is simple: If there are more damage types, it's more likely characters (In both the party and opponents, watch out for that) won't have immunity or resistance to the attack, at the cost of being less likely they have vulnerability to them as well.
- Disease Damage
- Disease damage should be used in place of poison or necrotic damage for any poison or necrotic damage caused by a disease or a spell or other magical effect that creates disease-like properties, such as the Sewer Rot disease in the DMG. If making homebrew creatures, you may also add the disease damage type at will to attacks that are very unsanitary and fill the target with disease, and NOT poison. This doesn't replace the actual poison damage type, and attacks that use venom or poison, or the damage dealt by any poisons within the game, should remain unchanged by this. At the DM's discretion, an attack from an undead creature that reads as being based on making the target sick may also use disease instead of poison.
- Cosmic Damage
- Damage as a result of being forced to think about things that you simply cannot comprehend is cosmic damage. This is different from psychic damage in the way that psychic damage can be interpreted as mental strain on your mind rather than the cosmic damage's physical strain. It's the damage Lovecraftian creatures, aberrations usually, deal in place of psychic damage. Cosmic damage feels like your brain is pushing against the inside of your skull, like it's desperately trying to escape understanding the incomprehensible in front of it, and is somehow swelling up as a result. Death by cosmic damage might result in the biology of the character being horribly warped beyond what a normal spell could repair, or even outright cause the brain to swell and explode. Cosmic damage acts like a direct step up from psychic damage, and this should reflect in your use of it. A normal Mind Flayer or even any normal spell will still use psychic damage, but an especially powerful and unusual aberration like an Elder Brain or Neothelid may use cosmic. If a creature uses cosmic damage, it does so in place of psychic damage, and if it would deal cosmic damage instead of psychic damage and is immune or resistant to psychic damage, it is probably also immune or resistant to cosmic damage in addition to psychic damage.
- A disheartened creature actively doesn't want to fight, either by not causing the fight in the first place, not wanting to harm or kill a foe, or otherwise by losing the resolve to fight mid-battle. A disheartened creature's Initiative count drops to 0, and it can't cast spells that deal damage. Even if the disheartened condition is later removed, a creature's original Initiative count is not restored, requiring other means to raise Initiative.
- A waterlogged creature is in a heavy downpour or snowfall without protection from the rain, soaking them and causing discomfort that can't be accounted for easily. A waterlogged creature has disadvantage on ability checks and disadvantage on saving throws against the effects of cold weather. Creatures with protection from the rain, such as an umbrella or a raincoat, and creatures that have a swimming speed or resistance or immunity to cold damage are usually immune to this condition. A creature can recover from the waterlogged condition by either drying off completely, or being submerged in water. Being in relatively light rain, or in a body of water, shouldn't cause this condition. At the DM's discretion, a creature can make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw when entering heavy rain or snow for the first time on a turn or when starting their turn in heavy rain or snow to prevent the condition.
2nd Stage Status Conditions
The following additional status conditions provide layers to the existing ones, giving you different levels of status conditions similar to the stacking effects of levels of Exhaustion. As such, they always appear as an upper level of an existing status aliment, and should never be possible to get outright except in incredibly special circumstances, as noted below the list.
- A blinded or deafened creature that fails the saving throw against the blinded or deafened effect an amount of times equal to their Constitution modifier (minimum 1) becomes desensitized if the effect the condition originates from allows it. A desensitized creature is blinded, deafened, and cannot feel anything except any pain it receives. It cannot perceive outside of special senses, such as truesight or tremorsense, which don't rely on normal sight. A desensitized creature cannot hit with an attack unless it is a critical, and all critical hits they would make act as normal hits instead. A desensitized creature cannot cast concentration spells, and automatically fails concentration checks. Any pain the creature receives as a result of taking damage is maximized as a result of being the only thing they can feel, and causes them to take additional damage equal to the damage taken from any given source, except that all of this additional damage is psychic damage. Most likely, special poisons or venoms may make a creature desensitized, or maybe powerful homebrew spells most likely used by villains. You can also outright replace the more powerful enemies' versions of effects that make you blinded or deafened with effects that make you desensitized instead, failing multiple saving throws to do so.
- A charmed creature that fails the saving throw against the charmed effect an amount of times equal to their Charisma modifier (minimum 1) becomes infatuated if the effect the condition originates from allows it. This should only occur against charm effects that are natural abilities of the creature, such as a vampire, and never from spells. An infatuated creature is charmed and stops rolling to save against the charm, unless the charm has a special clause of an event outside of turn order that can cause the charmed creature to make an additional save against the charm, such as taking damage. An infatuated creature doesn't make saving throws against the charm as a result of time passing.
- A frightened creature that fails the saving throw against the frightened effect an amount of times equal to their Wisdom modifier (minimum 1) becomes terrified if the effect the condition originates from allows it. A terrified creature cannot save against being terrified while the source of its fear is within line of sight. A terrified creature is frightened, and takes additional damage equal to the damage taken from any damage dealt to it by the source of its fear. All of this additional damage is cosmic damage. Powerful creatures with an ability like a dragon's Frightening Presence might make multiple failures result in terror instead of simple fear.
- A terrified creature that fails a saving throw against any frightened or terrified effect even once is panicked. A panicked creature cannot comprehend anything other than the need to escape the source of its fear, and is so desperate to avoid its situation and the doom approaching them that they lose all rationality and cannot be reasoned with. A panicked creature, including a player character, falls under the control of the DM, who must make the creature run away, use spells that help it escape, and do anything it can to flee in the most effective way possible. A panicked creature is willing to risk any and all harm to themselves and their allies to do so. For example, a panicked creature that has plane shift prepared might cast it immediately, without a destination or with the first destination that comes to mind, whatever that is.
- A paralyzed or poisoned creature that fails the saving throw against the paralyzed or poisoned effect an amount of times equal to their Constitution modifier (minimum 1) becomes traumatized if the effect the condition originates from allows for it. A traumatized creature is paralyzed, automatically fails Constitution saving throws and takes disease damage equal to their Constitution modifier (minimum 1) at the start of each of their turns, as their body's mechanisms for recovering and returning to homeostasis turn on them and become a hazard. Greater restoration or a DC 20 Medicine check (with advantage if the creature attempting the check has a medicine kit) can cure a creature of its traumatized condition and leave it with the original condition it had. If this occurs, the original condition cannot cause the creature to become traumatized again for 24 hours. A particularly nasty poison from a creature that in real life is usually deadly can cause this. That can include creatures from lower rungs than might be expected, even a normal poisonous snake or spider might cause this if they are a particular type. If this is used this way, characters that see the threat coming should gain visual clues that the creature is particularly deadly, such as describing it as a cobra or black widow. Other effects that can cause the condition are effects that are usually unexpectingly deadly, the kinds that cause internal damage or confuse the body in how it might cope, such as allergies (If those are a thing in your game, they probably aren't for your player characters, but could be for NPCs) or the concussive blast of powerful explosions. The things that cause this condition would be surprising and seemingly unrelated to each other but should be grounded in real life ways trauma can occur that can leave a lasting impression.
Variant Rule: Immortal Biology
As a variant rule to make immortality more appealing, you can make any creature that does not age or ages at a reduced rate compared to a normal creature of their species immune to cosmic damage, as well as the status conditions that are added by this ruleset (But not normal status conditions) and all diseases (But not curses). This gives a mechanical benefit to the pursuit of immortality, and makes it more than simply living forever, allowing players that are immortal or effectively immortal to really feel like that means something.