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Dungeons and Dragons and Feelings

Dungeons and Dragons and Feelings is a homebrew system overlaid onto 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons, designed specifically to better support player-driven stories, character/world exploration, and inter-character interactions during D&D play. These rules are semi-modular, and certain chapters can be included or eschewed depending on the game setting. D&D&F can be used with any game setting, although it is primarily designed in tandem with The Splintering Wheel Setting.

But, Why?

In designing for a more player-roleplay focused set of mechanics, D&D&F takes many forms of inspiration, and borrows many concepts from other amazing RPG systems, such as Dungeon World, Apocalypse World, Burning Wheel and FATE. However, it is always important to remember the sage wisdom given by GrandMaster Adam Koebel, paraphrased; if you have to hack your game so much, you're either playing the wrong game for what you're after, or you're designing a new game.

D&D&F is both an effort of game design and of hacking 5th Edition to be something it's ultimately not, but part of the intent is to show that it it could be, without massively extraneous systems, or sweeping changes to the game's very core mechanics. D&D&F is designed as an overlay, in the hopes that two otherwise disparate worlds, one of 'tabletop roleplaying' that many players seek out in spite of the mechanics, and the other of 'good old dungeon delving' that 5th Edition D&D brings so well, can be finally brought together in glorious harmony.

At its heart, D&D&F is about the narratives and stories that the players and GM work together to tell, primarily focused on the characters, and their interactions with each other and the world. It's as much about the elf that dies on the blinding sands for nothing, as it is about a mighty saurian that staunchly defends the down-trodden children of the city, as it is about the Halfling and the Human falling in awkward, sweet love. Dungeons and Dragons has always been so ripe for imagery and story, and D&D&F seeks to draw it out through positive mechanical reinforcement of its exploration.

In the coming chapters, you will find all the rules, changes, and lore you'll need, to fire up your very own campaign of Dungeons and Dragons and Feelings! Don't forget the tissues!

Character Creation

A character in the Dungeons and Dragons and Feelings is a rich being, full of wonder and untapped adventure. This chapter will primarily focus on helping create characters for The Splintering Wheel setting, and will occasionally use terminology relating to that setting. However, it should pose no problem to apply this entire chapter to any setting of your 5th edition D&D game. Wherever your character sits along the loose and ever-changing scales of morality and ethics, every character that inhabits the world of the Splintering Wheel shares one thing in common - they are bound to the Wheel through death and beyond, ever under the lock and key of IA and his Wardens.

When making your character, take the time to consider more than just their raw mechanics and stats; Dungeons and Dragons and Feelings has many systems in play to help you flesh out your character's desires, directions and motivations, in ways that affect the game and the world as you play. Your character's rise in power isn't determined by the slaying of monsters, but rather, the exploration of mystery, the growth of their narrative, and the the basest urge of all living beings: survival.

Accompanied by your (not-so) trusty D&D 5th Edition Player's Handbook1), progress through this chapter and use the following rules in place of the relative rules in the PHB. Grab a D&D&F Character Sheet, or feel free to make your own as you progress. You should also chat with your GM about the ways in which you can tie your character into the history and world of the Splintering Wheel!

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Callings are your character’s motivations and beliefs, briefly summarised, and made actionable. They are your character's driving motivations, reasons for living, and/or thoughts and feelings that your character pushes on through the Wastes with. Their Callings are the reason they get up in the morning, the reason they do their best to survive. Each character can have up to three active Callings at any session of game, with a minimum of one, and are used, to the best of your ability, as driving motivation for your character's thoughts and actions. Your character may more than three Callings, but these are held in reserve. Callings can be acted upon, resolved, or even left behind without action - they change and grow with the character, and are in no way a permanent, rigid facet of your character.

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Traits are words or phrases that explain the defining features of your character. Traits can be invoked by players and the GM, to grant advantage or disadvantage on rolls where those traits are relevant in the story. It can also be invoked to grant non-roll based benefits or misfortunes. Each character has three traits, and they change and grow throughout the course of a character's career. A trait can come back to a character over time - they are fluid things that come and go, unlike Callings.

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Mysteries are the driving force of both narrative play and mechanical progression in Dungeons and Dragons and Feelings. Experience is no longer gained through the killing of monsters. Instead, it is primarily gained through the answering of Mysteries, commonly referred to as Questions. Mysteries are player-held questions about facets of the world that you ask, and then seek the answers to, and only by seeking out this roleplay-rich method of exploring the world can you grow and advance your character.

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Experience in Dungeons and Dragons and Feelings has been artfully separated from the process of killing things. No longer does one gain reams of experience by slaughtering rooms and towns filled with rich story potential. Instead, the focus of progressive power gain has been shifted into learning - the more questions you answer as you play, the more you discover, the stronger you become. Every character follows the same experience requirements, and gains experience in the same way. How quickly they grow is tied directly to how many mysteries each player pursues in any given session. It is also distinctly possible that despite a grand adventure, a character may not gain any experience for a given session, though highly unlikely.

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Soft Failure

If you fail a roll by less than five it is considered a soft failure. You may succeed but with a catch supplied by the GM or you may fail but not completely or in a disastrous way.


When travelling overland each party member may make two actions per watch.

The party's default movement is 0kms per watch but may be increased using the Pacemaking action.

A character who is mounted may increase the party's movement by a variable speed for free once per watch, based on the size of the party, as detailed below.

If a character performs more than 6 actions between long rests they must make constitution checks for each watch the perform any actions in. The DC for this check is double the number of actions they have taken since their last long rest. On a failure they gain one rank of exhaustion.

Watch ActionEffect
PacekeepingIncrease the party's movement by X km/h for the watch.
NavigatingOn a successful Wisdom(Survival) check navigate through the wilderness to find the way toward the party's destination.
QuartermasteringPrevent the accidental consumption or loss of items or rations. At the end of the watch automatically know if any one or thing is missing from the party.
MapkeepingKeeps track of where the party is and notes about when and where the party encountered what. Things encountered while travelling may be added to the map and/or the rumor mill.
Keeping Lookout On a successful Wisdom(Perception) check prevents the party from being surprised by random encounters.
ForagingOn a successful Wisdom(Survival) check produces 1d4 rations.
HidingOn a successful Dexterity(Stealth) check makes the party less visible to any watching eyes and less likely to come across random encounters. Gain +1d10 on any encounter rolls made during this watch.
Find a secluded campsiteOn a successful Intelligence(Investigation) help find a more secluded camping spot. Gain +1d10 on any encounter rolls made while camped in this location.
SearchingRoll Investigation or survival to find or hunt for something while travelling.
Carrying If there is a large load that needs to be moved such as an unconcious or unwilling creature or a large object, a carry action is required to bring it along at pace with the party.

The Map: Navigation rolls made where the end of watch destination is marked on the map have advantage.

For Parties with more or less than 4 characters pacekeeping and mount speeds are as follows:

Party SizePacekeeping and Mount Speed

Exhaustion and Madness

When you fail a death saving throw you gain one level of exhaustion or madness, your choice.

Exhaustion and madness can be gained by enduring physical and mental punishment such as travelling for days without rest or seeing your loved ones slain. It can also be inflicted by the supernatural such as being the victim of a mummy's curse or an insanity spell.

1 Rank of Exhaustion can be lost over the course of a long rest in which the character also eats and drinks normally.

1 Rank of Madness can be lost by spending a day in comfortable circumstances without engaging in violence or stress.

  1. Disadvantage on Strength, Dexterity and Constitution ability checks
  2. Speed Halved
  3. Disadvantage on Attacks and Strength, Dexterity and Constitution saves
  4. HP Max Halved
  5. Speed reduced to 0
  6. Death

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Skill Specifics

In Dungeons and Dragons and Feelings, character interaction with both player characters and NPCs, is one of the most common and sought types of roleplaying, yet one of the least supported. Traditional 5th Edition D&D doesn't give players many diverse options for interacting with NPCs, or many at all for PCs, leaving little to encourage players to interact with each other on a mechanical and narrative level, without resorting to player versus player combat. The Skill Specifics in D&D&F seek to expand on given interpersonal skills in 5th Edition D&D, by changing the perspective with which certain skills are approached, giving a player more concrete and rewarding roleplaying options with their roll. In addition, the Skill Specifics tackles the age-old problem of using social skills on PCs as a way of forcing them to act, by reaching a compromise that doesn't involve forcing a player's hand, but still rewards a narrative choice. These changes seek to unify the gap between player character and NPC interactions, and hook the players into the narrative, beyond simply seeking higher and higher numbers.

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Pushing Your Limits

Spells Per Day tells you how many times you can channel the background energy of the universe safely, and for martial characters, that obviously means none. In Dungeons and Dragons and Feelings, everyone can choose to dig deep in themselves, and draw out something great, bending the fabric of reality by sheer will, but not without great cost. They can achieve something truly miraculous, and quite possibly disastrous. Pushing your limits is rarely recommended, but when your back is against the wall and there's no way out, sometimes rolling those bones and taking what comes is much more enticing than simply dying to a shortsword in the gut. Remember, though, that

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Called Shots

Despite its focus on player-driven stories and narratives in roleplay, Dungeons and Dragons and Feelings also attempts to bring more choice to the players, providing light, easy to use systems that extend player interaction with the world both in, and out of combat. Called Shots represents a fine tuning of non-magical gameplay, useful both in and out of combat. It is a very free-form system in regards to its results, allowing for GM and player input as to the effects of a Called Shot for any given situation.

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Great Works

Crafting Magical Items, Buildings, Advanced Engineering, Political Prestige and Personal Development require more than just a little elbow grease or a few arcane words.

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1) don't forget the errata, found both online and in newer copies and PDFs!
dungeons_and_dragons_and_feelings.txt · Last modified: 2017/02/23 17:36 by balketh