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Checks, Actions, & Combat

Saves & Checks

Any time a saving throw is required (traps, spell effects, environmental threats) treat it as a check with the appropriate modifiers. Some circumstances can cause a check to be rolled at advantage or disadvantage.

Skills & Proficiency

5e skills have been removed and replaced with proficient checks. These are granted from a PC’s class and archetype.

PC Actions

When every second matters – such as combat – players take turns describing their character’s actions. Many actions require a check of some kind (attacking, casting a spell, intimidating an enemy into retreat), each with its own DC and modifiers. A PC can only take one of each action per round, but might be forced to make checks that don’t count as actions.

Types of Actions

  • Active: most proactive actions that require a check (stealth, attack, cast).
  • Movement: you can move up to your speed (usually 30′). You can split up this distance throughout your turn.
  • Quick: brief actions, actions triggered off others, anything that takes a second.

Active Actions

Active actions are driven by the PC’s choices and often require a check. Common active actions: attacking, hiding, casting spells, commanding troops, or similar. An active action can always be traded down to a movement or quick action, GM willing.

Movement Actions

You can move up to your speed in feet (30′ base, load reduces) for each movement action. You can split up this movement however you?d like, and can take actions in between segments of movement; such as moving, then attacking, then moving again.

Some forms of special movement – swimming, crawling, climbing, or traveling in difficult terrain – force you to move at half speed (a PC with 30′ speed can climb 15′).

Each load you carry above your STR score reduces your speed by 5′ and forces disadvantage on all checks. A 10 STR, 30′ speed PC carrying 11 load would move at 25′ speed. A PC at 0′ speed is completely encumbered and can’t move at all. A movement action can be traded down to a quick action.

Quick Actions

The most common form of quick action is a readied action, such as when waiting to spring an ambush. Drawing items or weapons, casting certain spells, maintaining concentration, and some class features are quick actions.

The GM can rule that certain other basic actions are quick actions.


All combatants go in a set order based on their DEX. Your DEX score (not modifier) determines your place in initiative, with the higher DEX acting before the lower DEX. It is always the same round to round and turn to turn unless there’s an ambush. Combatants can choose to delay to a slower initiative.


If you have a superior tactical position, such as multiple allies flanking a target, the GM may grant advantage to your checks.

Stealth: a character successfully in stealth can’t be directly targeted. Once they attack their stealth ends. Stealth DCs can vary by circumstances, or can even be impossible.

Range: all weapons and spells have a listed range, or what distance they work in combat. Distance is measured in feet on a battlemat or grid, or can be broken into three categories: close, ranged, and far. Close allows melee attacks and causes ranged attacks to suffer disadvantage; ranged is beyond melee reach but ideal for most ranged weapons; and far is beyond weapons or spells but still visible.

Tactical Superiority

The players? choices and cleverness should be rewarded in play, with GMs granting advantage or even automatic success. If one side’s position, weapons, or environment are wildly superior then no rolls are needed.

Attacks, Damage, & Injury

PC Attacks

A PC attack is a check against the target’s AC. An attack can have advantage or disadvantage per GM discretion. A melee attack uses STR mod while ranged uses DEX mod. Arcane spells use INT mod, divine use WIS mod. PCs add a proficiency bonus to combat and spell checks if proficient with that item, weapon, spell, or method of attack.

Range & Attacks

A melee attack must be within 5-10′ (close range). A ranged attack can be made in melee combat, however the attack roll is made at disadvantage. Class feature and spell attacks can be melee or ranged, as listed in their description (e.g. ?in 30′? means ?a target within 30′ from you?).

Dealing Damage

PCs deal damage when they successfully hit a target. Damage is listed by the spell, class feature, or weapon as a number of dice and ability modifier (e.g. 1d8 + STR mod).

NPC Attacks

The GM rolls for a monster or NPC to attack, using the monster’s stats to determine its modifier to the appropriate ability check. This attack is compared against the PC’s AC; a hit means that the monster deals damage. Usually, monsters follow the same rules as PCs for range and damage, but some special enemies have unique circumstances.

Critical Hits

Damage is doubled on any critical hit; an attack that rolled a natural 20. This is the same for both PCs and NPCs, and works on any type of attack (spells, features, etc).

Critical Failure

Rolling a natural 1 on a check that damages a PC doubles the damage the PC suffers.

Death & Injury

Any combatant that reaches 0 hit points is incapacitated and unable to act. They’re dead if not stabilized within 1 minute or by the end of the fight (whichever is later).

Stabilizing & Injuries

An ally (PC or NPC) can roll a modified ability check, cast a spell, or otherwise heal an incapacitated character to stabilize them. Once stabilized, the incapacitated PC rolls 1d20 on the Injury Table. If not a 1 (dead), they return to 1 HP (or roll for healing).

Healing & HP

Characters have hit points (HP). You can never go below zero HP, and never go above your max HP. You gain more HP as you gain levels. NPCs? HP is based on their HD.

A character can make a check to stop or reduce the negative effects of a wound or condition, however HP are never restored without magic, medicine, rest, or similar.

Healing From Rest

A PC heals 1 HP per level per night of safe rest. This excludes rest in a dungeon or in hostile wilderness. A PC heals 1 HP per night of unsafe rest; such as when in a dungeon. A level 4 PC would heal 4 HP in a night of safe rest, or 1 HP in a dungeon.

Healing From Magic & Medicine

Magic and medicine (herbs, potions, etc) restore HP through a number of dice rolled (like 3d6). The spell, effect, or item will list its amount healed. Mundane healing doesn’t restore HP, but removes penalties. Abilities can be healed with weeks of rest and care.

Injury Table
d20 Effects
1 A false hope, you’re dead
2 Feeble: lose 1d6 STR
3 Shaky: lose 1d6 DEX
4 Weak: lose 1d6 CON
5 Addled: lose 1d6 INT
6 Confused: lose 1d6 WIS
7 Disfigured: lose 1d6 CHA
8-13 Lose a body part (GM’s choice)
14-19 Disadvantage all checks until rest
20 Standing: instantly heal 1d8 HP

Morale & Adventuring


All living creatures have morale, their will to fight.

The GM calls when to make a morale check. Morale checks always have a DC 11. Success means they stand and fight. Failure means they surrender or flee. PCs rarely have to check morale.

Morale Checks

Like any check, roll 1d20 with:

  • + WIS mod
  • + Proficiency bonus (if fitting)
  • + Monster morale bonus (based off HD)

PCs and NPCs can roll with advantage or disadvantage based on the circumstances (such as being outnumbered).

When To Check Morale

The GM can call for one or more morale checks; generally when…

  • …the battle begins
  • …the first combatant is killed
  • …the leader or expert is killed
  • …the tide of the battle is obvious.

Side, Group, or Individual

PCs always roll morale individually.

The GM decides if monsters roll as a side, a group based on type, or individually.


Traps are treated like any other dangerous check. Unless characters specifically stipulate when, where, and how they’re checking for traps, the GM doesn’t have to allow a check to perceive, disarm, or avoid a trap. However the GM must forewarn traps through narrative cues – such as already sprung traps from previous parties, an indication that the trap is there, or some other in-game fictional descriptor that allows the players to know when danger is afoot. Traps can be both magical or mundane, and any can deal damage, effects, or narrative repercussions as fitting of any other dangerous check or monster. There may be multiple ways to avoid, disarm, or move through a trap.


As gold (gp) is the primary source of XP, PCs are expected to be able to acquire treasure. All coins have the same weight; there are 100 coins per pound, and 500 coins per load. 10 copper (cp) = 1 silver (sp); 10 sp = 1 gp. Gold and precious metals are a source of magical power. An enemy’s carried loot is worth 1d20gp per HD; this is separate from any hoards (chests, piles, altars, etc).

Captured magical items grant XP to the PCs equal to their fair value. If the magic item is later sold, the gold earned for that item is not counted toward the PCs? XP. Inherited or unearned treasure doesn’t grant XP.

Travel Turns

A travel turn occurs every hour of in-fiction time. Travel turns are used to track torches, distance, and encounters. Torches typically last an hour, lanterns three hours.

As a rule of thumb, the GM can count every 3-4 scenes, rooms, or encounters in a dungeon as one hour (or one travel turn). See Timekeeping on page 23 for more.

The GM rolls 1d20 on the below table for each travel turn.

The GM can roll with advantage (better for the party) if the PCs are being cautious, or at disadvantage if not (worse for the party).

The GM is encouraged to be creative and logical, tying in threats that pertain to the area, quest, or dungeon.

Travel Turn Table
d20 Threat Level
1 Terrible, immediate threat, accidental encounter, Devastating ambush, environment worsens
2-10 Something bad happens soon, a subtle trap or poison, Cautious enemies prep to attack any moment, retainer flees / betrays
11-19 Threat worsens or draws near, a distant threat evolves, Environment gradually escalates to hostility, a new potential threat arrives, suspicious
20 Nothing bad, maybe even good

Travel & Time

Rolling To Return

If there’s insufficient time to roleplay the party’s return to a safe camp scene by scene, the GM can have each player roll to return. This roll is a check, with each PC rolling with a mod equal to their highest modifier (including proficiency).

The GM decides if the path to safety is dangerous or arduous.

DC = 10 + 1 per travel turn, max DC 20. Success means the PC returns to safety without issue. Failure has a cost as described below, depending on the nature of the path.

  • Dangerous: 1d6 damage per 1 under DC
  • Arduous: lose 1 load of equipment per 1 under the DC

If the PC is reduced to 0 HP, they die or are left unconscious. This damage ignores armor and can’t be healed or avoided.

The GM picks what if any load is dropped, starting with less valuable and less secure items, and working up to weapons and armor.

A party with two surviving PCs must roll to return. They are four hours away from base (DC 14). One PC has a +6 best mod and the other has a +5. The first rolls a 17 and makes it back safely. The second rolls a 12 (natural 7 + 5). Since the path is arduous the GM causes the second PC to drop 2 load, a purse of coins and a treasured crystal skull.


The GM is responsible for keeping track of time while the party is out adventuring. Many effects have specific durations, and the day is constantly changing depending on the amount of time passed.

The GM can use multiple time dice to denote the time of day. Each time die is 1d6, with its face turned to represent the hour. This is useful for counting duration, infections, and travel turns. As the adventuring day moves forward, the GM uses up to 4d6 turned to represent the hour of day (e.g. 6, 1 is 07:00h, while 6, 6, 6, 2 is 20:00h). Each time die represents one quarter of the day and six hours of time: pre-dawn, morning, afternoon, and night.

The GM can roll 1-4 time dice to randomly determine the hour of day or the duration of an effect. The more dice, the later it is.

The GM can instead set a starting hour and roll 1 or 2 time dice to determine the specific time.

The party emerges from a portal.

The GM rolls 2d6 to determine the current time of day on this plane (3, 2). It is 05:00h or in the pre-dawn quarter.

The GM sets one time die out to ?5.? As the party adventures, an hour passes, the GM rolls for a travel turn, and rotates the time die to ?6.?

As the party fights a few battles, the GM thinks another hour has passed and rolls for a travel turn.

The GM brings out the second time die (another d6), and sets it to ?1,? or 07:00h.

Overland Travel

Unencumbered PCs can comfortably travel 10 + STR mod miles per day. Difficult terrain halves this; harsh terrain quarters it (e.g. a +2 STR mod PC can ravel 12 miles in open terrain, 6 miles in difficult terrain, or 3 miles in harsh terrain). Dim light counts as difficult terrain; darkness as harsh terrain.

An encumbered PC moves at half speed. The party moves at the slowest PC’s pace if they plan to stick together. Moving tactically reduces speed by one quarter, stealthily reduces it by half. Harsh weather, snow, or heat are treated as difficult or harsh terrain.

Travel turns can be rolled daily rather than hourly while the party travels overland. Torches and SUP reduce hourly, as normal.

Overwater Travel

A boat on smooth water travels 3 miles an hour, or roughly 30 miles per day. A ship traveling on the sea moves 5 miles an hour, or up to 100 miles per full day and night. Moving in an unfavorable wind or current halves this speed. Moving with a favorable wind or current doubles it.

The GM can be more nuanced with speed as desired.

Travel turns can be rolled daily while on a river or lake, or weekly if at sea. Torches and SUP reduce hourly, as normal.


The party can chase fleeing enemies by making a check. Flat and open terrain uses STR, uneven terrain uses DEX. The faster the enemy, the higher the DC. Most creatures have a 30′ movement speed (DC 11 to catch). The DC is modified by 1 per 5′ under or over 30′ movement. The DC is lessened if the pursuers are trying to get into bow range.

Each PC can roll and therefore catch their quarry individually, or the PC with the worst relevant modifier rolls for the party to arrive as a group. Failure means the enemy eluded the party, success that it was caught.

The PCs roll at disadvantage if the quarry is able to easily break line of sight (such as in darkness, dense foliage, or twisting halls). They roll at advantage if they have a better position (such as surrounding the enemy). The quarry can try to stall their pursuer – which might affect the DC – by throwing caltrops, impediments, false trails, or bait.

Overland chases over the course of hours or days can be handled the same way, but use CON if endurance is more important than short bursts of speed. Attempting to outmaneuver an enemy force might instead use the commander’s CHA or NPCs? morale.

The process is reversed if the party is trying to flee. The players still roll, only to escape.

An enemy scout with 40′ speed flees the party through a dense thicket. A PC rolls a DC 13 DEX check at disadvantage. They get a 4, and the scout manages to elude capture.


There are four levels of light. Light affects different checks in different environments, both for PCs and NPCs. Torches last 1 hour, lanterns last 3. They cast 30′ of dim light.

The GM must describe the current level of light, and clarify what light sources exist. Players keep track of their own light sources. The GM calls out hours as they pass with travel turns and time keeping, but the PCs must note when torches and lanterns expire.


Black as pitch, no light. No creature can see without other methods (such as darksight through heat, magic, or tremors).


Darkness grants advantage to…

  • Stealth, hiding
  • Listening checks

Darkness grants disadvantage to…

  • All attacks
  • All defense checks
  • Sight (impossible)
  • Predicting danger
  • Finesse, precision
  • Morale for surfacers

Dim Light

30′ around a torch or a lantern. Moonlight.


Dim light grants advantage to…

  • Stealth, hiding
  • Listening checks

Dim light grants disadvantage to…

  • Ranged attacks
  • Defense vs. ranged
  • Sight checks

Well Lit

Typical natural light outdoors, full lanterns indoors. This is considered the default in most daytime circumstances, and the GM rules if advantage or disadvantage apply.


Blindingly bright light, such as high sun reflected upon undisturbed snow.


Brilliant light grants advantage to…

  • Tracking, trails
  • Seeing movement

Brilliant light grants disadvantage to…

  • Stealth, hiding
  • Long-range attacks


Some creatures – especially nefarious, ancient, or subterranean ones – can see with darksight. Their sight functions in reverse of humans or other lightsight creatures. The disadvantages a human suffers in darkness are advantages to these creatures.

Darksight can often come from some other natural or magical source – such as sensing heat, movement, or an acute sense of sound mapping or echolocation.

Retreat, Resilience, & Corruptions

Resilience & Exhaustion

Each PC has resilience equal to their CON score. Resilience is the number of hours (or travel turns) a PC can adventure without food or rest (e.g. a PC with 10 CON can trek ten hours).

The GM can reason that overland travel or other elements damage a PC’s resilience, but must alert the PC as such.

The GM can call for a resilience check (1d20 + CON mod) once the PC has adventured for more hours than their resilience.

The DC is 10 + the number of hours beyond the PC’s resilience. Failure means that the PC becomes exhausted. Repeated resilience checks can result in automatic failure, HP damage, injury, or even unconsciousness.


Once a PC becomes exhausted, they suffer disadvantage on all checks and their movement speed becomes 0′. They can barely stand or do anything that requires significant exertion (including combat and magic).

Exhaustion can only be cured with sufficient rest and food; magic generally can’t remove exhaustion. Typically unsafe rest does not cure exhaustion, only safe rest will. Being medically cared for expedites recovery.

Exhaustion can come from failing a resilience check, negative magic conditions, diseases or poisons, eating tainted food, or other maladies at the GM’s discretion.


A PC can become afflicted by disease, poison, or venom. These forms of corruption generally call for a CON mod check, but the GM may rule otherwise (such as magical diseases). If the PC fails, they become infected by the corruption. The DC is usually 11, but can increase based on the source’s difficulty or HD.

The infection worsens in a series of stages, each stage causing an injury or form of damage. A stage is a period of time ranging from hours to weeks. At the culmination of each stage, the infected PC can make another check or suffer damage. Each stage should have progressively worse penalties. The most common form of damage is ability score damage to CON, STR, or INT.

The GM can roll 1d6 per stage (hourly to weekly) and deal the result’s damage to the appropriate ability score. Some diseases have other penalties, such as loss of limb, movement, exhaustion, or sanity.

A PC is bitten by a venomous snake and rolls a CON mod check against DC 11. The PC fails, and becomes infected. In the first stage, they suffer exhaustion. After two hours, the first stage ends and the PC rolls again; another failure. They take 1d6 CON damage, rolling a 4. The PC’s CON of 10 (+0) is now 6 (-2). Two hours later, the PC makes a CON mod check and fails again. The PC rolls 1d6 for damage, gets a 6, and reduces their CON from 6 to 0. They’re dead.


The PCs can retreat from combat on their turn.

The GM might call for a check (mod varies based on method) to avoid danger, or allow enemy combatants to attack fleeing PCs. Retreat is a special action and takes up the PC’s entire turn; it can’t be done as part of another action. Concentration effects immediately halt once the PC retreats. If the retreating PC fails their check or is successfully hit by an attack (regardless of the attack’s severity) their retreat attempt has failed, and they stop moving. If successful, the retreating PC manages to escape. Use the chase rules if some NPCs pursue the retreating PCs. The combatants who remain in the fight maintain initiative as normal. If a PC successfully escapes a battle and its subsequent chase, they can roll to return (see page 23). They can return to the safety of camp or to the rest of the party.

Any retainers or NPCs following a PC who retreats must immediately make a morale check at disadvantage. If they fail, they rout and try to flee (often to their deaths due to their state of panic and lack of command).

A PC is surrounded by enemies. Likely to die, they attempt to retreat and the GM calls for a DEX check to break through the encirclement. The PC rolls and succeeds, but the GM allows an enemy combatant on the edge of the circle to attack the PC in response. The enemy misses, and the PC is able to flee the battlefield and is out of initiative.