Personal Improvement (5e Variant Rule)

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Personal Improvement[edit]

This downtime activity is designed to give something to do for PCs who have absolutely no damn interest in building the campaign setting; their character is all about making themselves amazing, and anything else is a worthless distraction. This is the character who, when not called upon to be a hero, is off on his own becoming a better hero for the next time he is needed. (Imagine Goku from Dragon Ball Z, when he was training while on his way to Namek.) The character engages in an intense training activity- a regimen that consumes massive amounts of time, and precludes any activity that does not support it, including even having a social life. The character isolates themselves, or moves to a place of extreme seclusion, in order to do this. It takes 750 days to complete this activity. At the end of the activity, the character increases one ability score, determined by the nature of their activity, by 1. You cannot raise an ability score above 19 in this way. Additionally, one ability score decreases by 1. The player may choose which ability score is reduced, choose the suggested ability based on the activity, or roll 1d6 to decide.

1d6
1. Exercising = Strength (Reduce wisdom)
2. Endurance Training = Constitution (Reduce dexterity)
3. Speed Training = Dexterity (Reduce constitution)
4. Studying = Intelligence (Reduce charisma)
5. Meditation = Wisdom (Reduce strength)
6. NOTHING = Charisma (Reduce intelligence)
(It is up to the DM if PCs may improve charisma in this way. I would rule no, as charisma is about social activity, which is the antithesis of this activity. However, I suppose they could spend time looking for spellcasters who will magically augment their appearance, like a plastic surgeon? Or practicing their makeup artistry and costuming skills? Like I said, in the absence of actually talking to people and having a social life, it's pretty hard to justify an increase here. However, it should totally be possible to lose charisma when gaining other ability scores, as the character has isolated themselves, making themselves less sociable.)
Notes
  • The downtime expense is three times the training expense for a tool or language, and fits well relative to the expense of building a stronghold, being significantly more expensive than an abbey, keep, or temple, but not as expensive as a palace. Think of it as the character building themselves as if they were a castle. (Keep in mind that a suit of plate mail takes 300 days to complete, a number a PC shouldn't even reach until approximately level 11, long after they can afford to buy a suit, so this downtime activity likely won't even be an option for characters until they are near or at max level, after all ASIs from class advancement have been awarded.)
  • The limit is set to 19, so players can't use this as a way of gaining a feat and reaching a +5 modifier at the same time.
  • Finally, this does not increase the total sum of ability scores, it simply rearranges them, so little is gained beyond a slight tweak toward optimization.
  • In essence, this is extremely inefficient, but it still allows a character with no interest beyond their own capacity to hero, to benefit from their downtime- if they ever happen to accumulate so much of it. And really, that's what this activity is intended as- a sort of overflow drain for downtime accumulated in such characters, giving them a little something as a sort of consolation prize for not receiving any other rewards out of their downtime up to that point. Players SHOULD NOT be planning their character build around the incorporation of this activity.

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