Ditching gold: D&D 5e Wealth attribute

I’ve been tempted to create a Wealth attribute, determined as you would any other attribute. Note that this is not for people who are entirely happy with counting imaginary coins and being nice and exact with their fictional game shopping.

You’d roll Wealth to buy things. The cheaper and more common, the lower the DC.

Treasure can lower the difficulty to buy something. The greater the treasure, the lower the DC gets (the treasure gets expended, though). A palace, galleon or rare artefact would be priceless for typical PCs without treasure, high rank in the nobility or whatever.

A good Persuasion or Haggling check could give you Advantage (or certain in-game issues, like rarity, guild exclusivity, racial or nation tensions could give you disadvantage).

Other factors

  • Titles or rank (game rewards) can rise Wealth. Loss of face or in-game bad things can reduce it.
  • You could deliberately reduce Wealth to lower the DC of a to-buy roll.
  • The attribute bonus of your Wealth value reflects the quality of your living expenses in town.

I haven’t really thought this through, nor play-tested it, but I would like to.

Featured image by D.A. Trampier

Some simple D&D 5e house rules

Most of these I came up with while running a successful year-long campaign:

Average Damage

Instead of rolling damage dice, I just use the average value listed in the Monster Manual. This has a few benefits: it’s faster, still within the rules and players don’t usually care at all. Critical hit? Use average damage plus a die roll. Or just double that average damage value.

Adjusting Monster HP

To make a monster easier to kill (eg: to make a band of mooks, portray a wounded or weakened foe, to speed up a lagging encounter or to lower the difficulty setting if the PCs are having lots of bad luck), give the monster its minimum possible HP. To make a tougher monster, go maximum (or close to it).

Diversify monsters by re-skinning

Use the stats of something simulating the effects that you like and change the descriptions. Change fire breath to death ray or cold resistance to poison resistance. I’ve re-skinned a giant aquatic psychic sea monster into a sentient evil tree and no one noticed.

Players reward Inspiration

Takes some extra work away from the GM who usually has enough to worry about already. Also, the GM gets to avoid giving the appearance of playing “favorites”.

Critical hit damage

Try this: apply maximum damage of that weapon plus another dice roll. So, for example, a short sword would deal 6 + d6 damage (not counting ability score bonuses). Makes each critical hit feel rewarding.

Extra effort

Player fails a skill check. Let them take a level of exhaustion to get a solid pass to represent tremendous effort or strain.

Featured image: Pillars of Pentegram by Larry Elmore


Here is an old article that I never published for Koru. It focuses on an optional humanoid race evolved from Trilobites (which are the most numerous wild animal on Island World.

Even though it’s a bit rough, and likely will change a lot when the final book goes it, it’s worth checking out!

The Trilobite folk are bipedal humanoids who share an ancestry with the most common arthropods on Koru. While there are three varieties, each with some major distinctions, they all a set of hard, segmented plates going down from the top of their heads down their backs and along their short tails. While they have lost most of their ancestors’  many limbs they have kept the ability to roll up into a hard, armored ball for defence and mobility.


There are three “types” of Trilobite-folk. All three are Amphibious, have Natural Armor (of varying degrees) and can roll up into an Armor Ball.

1. Deep: these are the ones who most resemble their ancestors: they are shorter than other humanoids (roughly 3 to 4 feet tall) and have four sets of limbs. They can assume a bipedal stance by standing on two sets of “legs”. Their insect-like hands are completely unable to use tools or weapons designed for human hands, but their hard chitinous armor allows them to naturally replicate just about any basic tool. Their Natural Armor is the toughest (Plate Armor). A choice for players who wish to be very non-human and alien.

2. Tidal: Their Natural Armor holds the middle ground in terms of hardness (Chain Mail). A choice for players who wish to be unique but still relate-able to near-humans, like Dwarves, Gnomes or Halflings.

3. Shallow: the most human-like of this folk. Their dorsal armor is slimmer and more flexible, allowing them greater mobility at the cost of less protection. While they still possess two sets of arms, the lower pair are almost completely vestigial: too small and weak to perform any arduous tasks beyond lifting small objects. Their faces are almost completely human except for their segmented irises and their mouths which, while closed, look small, but while opened completely split open the lower halves of their faces into long mandibles and maxilla “fingers”. Their hands, are slimmer and more flexible, allowing them to use human tools. Their Natural Armor is the least hard (Leather Armor). A good choice for players wanting to be very nearly human but visually different with minor differences to set themselves apart, like Elves, Half-Elves or Half-Orcs.

People of the Tides

As with the slow movement of the moons and tides, these people have profound ideologies around peaceful and deliberate lives. They rarely act hastily or without some deliberation beforehand.



Labyrinth Lord (or OSR game of choice)

As Dwarves, except replace their racial abilities with the following:

Their unique physique prevents them from being able to use weapons, armor or tools made for human use. However their limbs function perfectly for most tools needed for hammering, cutting, digging or scraping (they do not need tools for most tasks).

Armored Shell: Trilobites have a natural AC of 5 from the tough shells on their backs.

Amphibious: Trilobites can breathe equally well underwater as above land. However prolonged exposure to a dry environment will have consequences on their health. Reduce each of their saving throws by 1 for each entire day spent away from a body of water large enough for them to be fully immersed.

Armor Ball: Trilobites may roll up into a tough ball. This form makes them nearly invulnerable (Armor class of 4) and their movement speed of 150′(50′). However they cannot perform any actions except rolling around and smashing into things (attack as a war hammer, dealing 1d6 damage).

Dungeon World

Coming soon


Why I prefer the term “Referee”

No it doesn’t have anything to do with hockey.

There are many terms out there in this hobby. Here are the ones that I know of:

  • Dungeon Master
  • Game Master
  • Storyteller
  • Narrator
  • MC (master of ceremonies)
  • Referee

I’ve chosen Referee to describe myself in this role. The reason?

Dungeon or Game Master implies, well mastery over the players. That my fellow gamers are my subordinates. I don’t feel that way and don’t want them to either.

Storyteller or Narrator implies that the story belongs to me; that I’m the one telling the tale. I don’t like this because roleplaying games should create a story organically through play. An RPG should not have a pre-written script or plot, in my opinion.

Referee sounds best to me because it implies impartiality or neutrality. I’m there just to say what happens when the player characters react or interact with the things that are presented to them. It doesn’t imply a position of dominance nor the pretentiousness of a story teller.

And that’s why!

As you were.

Koru: Harm system

So in my upcoming setting + game, one of the ideas is to take inspiration from my favourite games. I wanted to create a health and injury system that was less abstracted than plain numerical values (i.e., hit points).

I’ve drawn ideas from:

  1. Apocalypse World
  2. World of Darkness
  3. Torchbearer

The basic idea is this: Harm has a spread something like this on your character sheet:

  • [] Want
  • [] Strain
  • [] Fatigue
  • [] Injury
  • [] Illness

When you take Harm from any source, you check the first (or next) box in the sequence. So if you haven’t checked anything yet, you mark Want. If you already had Want checked, you’d check Strain. This represents how much your character can take or bounce back from external sources of trauma. For a while you can just get a bit winded, tired or dehydrated from fighting monsters. Eventually, though, if you don’t recover, you’re opening yourself to far worse consequences (i.e., injuries and illnesses).


Recovering from each step requires greater time and resources. For example, to recover from Want, you need to have some food or water in your inventory or at least a turn (in combat) to catch your breath.

  • Want: you just need to catch your breath, eat or drink to replenish yourself. Takes only a moment.
  • Strain: you are emotionally or even mentally drained or upset to some degree and need to calm down, try to relax and collect yourself. Takes a few minutes.
  • Fatigue: you are physically drained and need rest. That means doing nothing strenuous for, say, an hour. Like a Short Rest in D&D 5e.
  • Injury: requires medical or magical attention. This is serious, like a bleeding wound or a broken bone. Requires a longer period of time to recover from an injury; say, at least 8 hours. Like a Long Rest in D&D 5e.
  • Illness: requires recurring, persistent medical or magical attention over a longer period of time. This is very serious: infections, fever, disease and such. Takes a much longer time to recover: a week (at least).

These timings are for a more “heroic” feel and if a group wanted more grittiness or whatever, they could make them take much longer. An Injury could take a week and Illness a month, if you wanted.


If ever all of your Harm boxes are full and you take more Harm, then you die. Plain and simple.

Bonus Boxes


A character’s age plays an important role in Koru. Amongst other things that it determines about a hero, it also affects how much Harm that they can take.

This is handled by applying extra “boxes” for Want. Youths have two extra Want boxes. Prime aged characters have one. Elders have none.

Having multiple checks in a type of Harm has no effect on recovery times.


Armor provides an extra box for Injury. Thicker, more effective armor just lasts longer, in game terms (Koru will use the “Usage Die” mechanic from the Black Hack).

Other protection and abilities

Some of these Harm boxes will increase depending on other factors, such as enchantments, good equipment or even special abilities. A Shaman, for example, who is an expert at healing, can grant other characters an extra temporary Illness box (if the right conditions are met).


I have yet to play-test these rules, but I’m liking how they look on “paper”.

Metal Music & Me

I am a closet metal fan.

– Jon Gries

Yup, that’s me too. I especially worry about “real” fans finding out for some reason. I mean, this scene here is me but with Metal Music (and its fans):

Seriously, I don’t know how much more of a lame, straight, married with kids suburbanite white guy I could be. Perhaps if I only ate white bread and rice and wore pastel polo shirts.

As many troubled, socially rejected teens I embraced Heavy Metal. It was an outlet for a lot of aggression and anger. Instead of getting into fights, I blasted Metallica.

Fast forward almost 20 years. I was re-introduced to Metal. It began with Doom stuff, like Candlemass and Saint Vitus. This has led me down a crazy path and now I happily listen to stuff by bands like this:


Strange how I skipped over groups like Slayer and Pantera and jumped right into seriously hard stuff like Watain, Celtic Frost (well their non-glam/hair stuff, LOL) and even an all-woman Black Metal band called Astarte. Going back to stuff like Slayer and Pantera has been weird (I used to think that they were SO HEAVY).

Anyway, the point of this post is not to impress (hahaha) but to express my shame: I’m a crappy Metal fan.

I don’t have long hair. I live in the Suburbs. I don’t go to concerts. I don’t do anything to live the “lifestyle”. I’m a nerdy white guy who secretly listens to Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth while I think that no-one is looking.

Ah that feels better. Carry on.

… \m/