House Rules

Death System Overhaul

The following rules replace the death system found in stock D&D 5e.

The Broken Condition

If you drop to zero Hit Points, you are Broken – in effect, taken out of the action. This replaces the Dying condition from the base game rules. When you become Broken, the GM will immediately roll for a critical injury on the Critical Injury Table. If you’re not dead (from the critical injury), you can crawl and mumble through the pain but you can’t perform any other actions. You can’t go below zero Hit Points, but each further attack that causes damage will give you another critical injury.

Getting Back Up

Being Broken is not fatal in itself – only critical injuries can actually kill you. There are two ways to get back up after being Broken, assuming you’re not dead:

First Aid: Someone can help you back onto your feet by administering first aid to you as an action using the Medicine skill or a Trauma Kit. The DC is 10 for non-fatal critical injuries, and 20 for fatal critical injuries. If the roll is successful, you get back up immediately, regaining one Hit Point. Administering first aid to someone who isn’t Broken has no effect.

On Your Own: If you’re Broken and no one is around to help you, you automatically recover one Hit Point after one turn (5-10 minutes) has passed, and can then get back up on your own.

Regardless of the method used, critical injuries take a set amount of time to heal. Relieving the Broken condition and regaining Hit Points has no effect on the status of your critical injury.

Critical Injuries

As long as you still have Hit Points left, taking damage represents fatigue, bruises or smaller cuts – painful, to be sure, but possible to overcome. Critical injuries represent a much more dangerous form of injury. These can maim or kill you. When knocked down to zero Hit Points, the GM will immediately roll for a critical injury.


If you suffer a critical injury listed as fatal, you must make a Death Saving Throw (an unmodified d20 against a DC of 10) when the listed time runs out. If the Death Saving Throw fails, you die. If you succeed, you linger on but you must make another Death Saving Throw when the listed amount of time has passed again.

Saving Your Life: To save your life when you have suffered a fatal critical injury, someone must give you first aid before you fail a Death Saving Throw. First aid is an action and requires a Medicine roll (DC 20, in this case). If you recover a Hit Point by yourself (see On Your Own, above) before you fail a Death Saving Throw, you can try to give yourself first aid, but you have disadvantage on the roll. Each character who attempts to treat you can try only once – to get a second chance, better medical equipment is needed.

Already Broken: If you are both Broken and have sustained a fatal critical injury (or several), two separate first aid rolls are needed: one to get you back on your feet, and another to save your life. These two rolls can be made in whichever order you prefer. Instant Kill: Note that there are four critical injuries that kill you outright. If you roll any of these, your character shuffles off their mortal coil. No Death Saving Throw is allowed.

Dying is Exhausting

Whenever your character drops to 0 hit points, you gain one level of exhaustion.

Realistic Natural Healing

This variant rule replaces the hit dice healing system found in the base D&D 5e rules. You no longer “spend” hit dice to regain hit points at any time – any spells or abilities that allow you to do so are nullified by this rule.

Instead, you regain a number of hit points equal to 1 + your Constitution modifier (minimum of 1) after completing a long rest. You regain a number of hit points equal to twice your Constitution modifier after completing a long rest if you expend the use of a Healer’s Kit prior to resting. You regain a number of hit points equal to three times your Constitution modifier after completing a long rest if that long rest takes place in a hospital or other facility under the care of a physician.

Certain features and abilities, such as the Scholar’s Doctor’s Orders feature utilized by the Physician subclass, allow players to spend a hit die. In these circumstances, the hit die is not spent, but the effect is the same. However, only one such feature or ability that utilizes this effect can be used per long rest. In other words, any feature that allows a player to spend a hit die to regain hit points can only be used once per day.

Injuries & Infection

Under certain circumstances, taking damage may mean more than simply losing hit points. In those cases, the GM may decide that your character receives more lasting injuries or perhaps even suffers from infection. These situations may require your character to seek specialized medical attention or suffer permanent disability.


There is no resurrection in this campaign. Roll a new character.

Crueler Criticals

When you score a critical hit, instead of rolling the damage dice twice and adding the combined result, do so with the assumption that the first set rolled the maximum damage. For example, a critical hit with a weapon that does 1d6 damage would now be 1d6 + 6. This is handled automatically in Foundry VTT, so no adjustments need to be made to how you roll damage there.

Cinematic Advantage

This rule replaces Flanking. Cinematic advantage is a simple system which rewards creative, outside-the-box thinking during combat. Cinematic advantage works with the following steps:

  1. While describing the situation, the DM describes interesting features in the area.
  2. The player comes up with a way to utilize those environmental features to their advantage, and describes how they want to use those features to get a cinematic advantage.
  3. The DM determines what attribute and skill (or skills) might be used to accomplish the feat and how difficult it is on a scale of DC 10 to 20. The player is told what this DC is and what penalty they face if they fail so they can make an informed choice.
  4. The player rolls the check as part of their move or action. On a success, they get advantage on their next attack. On a failure, something bad happens depending on what they tried, often falling prone or receiving disadvantage on their next attack.

The benefit to this is threefold: First, it rewards creative thinking on the part of the players. Second, it allows for realistic approaches to different situations as a means of gaining advantage on an attack, as opposed to relying solely on surprise and the rather rigid flanking mechanics. Third, it provides an opportunity to make combat more entertaining by adding some cinematic flair to character actions. Thanks to Sly Flourish for this awesome rule!


In this variant, carrying stuff can have penalties, even if it is within your maximum carrying capacity.

If you carry weight in excess of 5 times your Strength score (in lbs), you are considered encumbered, which reduces your speed by 10 feet.

If you carry weight in excess of 10 times your Strength score, you are considered to be heavily encumbered, which reduces your speed by 20 feet and gives you disadvantage on ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws that use Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution.

Travelling while encumbered gives you a point of exhaustion by the end of the day (so make sure you get a proper night’s sleep!).

This is handled automatically by Foundry VTT.

Weapon Sundering

You can attempt to damage, and even destroy, a weapon held by another creature. On your turn, you can take the Sundering action to attempt to damage an enemy’s weapon. Make an attack (weapon attack, unarmed attack, spell attack, etc. – your choice) with disadvantage against the target’s AC as normal. If the attack hits, roll damage and apply the damage to one weapon being carried by the target that you can see.

Weapons have hit points equal to twice the full value of their damage die. For instance, a Longsword deals 1d8 damage, so it has 16 hit points. Weapons are immune to necrotic, poison, and psychic damage. Magical weapons are resistant to Sundering, taking half damage from such attacks.

When a weapon drops to 0 hit points, it is destroyed. As long as a weapon has at least 1 hit point remaining, a character can attempt to repair the damage. Repairing damage follows our Crafting rules.

Concentration & the Dazed Condition

Whenever you fail a concentration check, you gain the dazed condition until the end of your next turn.

If you are concentrating on a spell and become dazed, you lose concentration on that spell and it immediately fails. While dazed, you cannot concentrate on spells.

Three Turns and Out

Unless everyone is still having fun, conflicts are ended after approximately three turns. Too much dice rolling slows down the drama and becomes harder and harder to describe creatively. If the GM and players want the old-school feeling of fighting down to the last hit point, that’s always an option, of course. The following ways are used to decide who has won if both sides are still standing:

  • Players elect to break the conflict off from the conflict. This will often trigger some kind of roll.
  • If the player’s foes have taken more losses.
  • One side is clearly winning or is projected to win.
  • The situation changes, presenting new options.

Casting & Armour/Shields

A spell gained through a class may only be cast with armour or shield equipped if that class provides the proficiency for that armour or shield.

Eight Hit Die Rule

If the party has, cumulatively, 8 or more hit dice than their enemy, they may handwaive the encounter and narrate the desired outcome. The reverse is also true. If an enemy has 8 or more hit dice than the party, they may handwaive the encounter and narrate the outcome.

Ability Score Cap

Normally, your ability scores cannot be increased above 20 without the aid of a magic item, temporary effect, or boon granted by some other source. We don’t know why this is – so we ignore this. Player characters in the Cambria Campaign have no limit on their ability scores and can use Ability Score Improvements (ASI) to increase ability scores to values higher than 20.

Tracking Time Out of Combat

The Cambria Campaign utilizes a time system inspired by Vampire: The Masquerade, V5. This system uses five basic units to describe game time:


The amount of time needed to take a fairly simple action, such as attacking someone, searching a backpack, or buying someone a drink. Turns remain abstract; they take as long as the action takes. Turns generally get shorter during action scenes and longer in social scenes. It takes longer to buy someone a drink than to fire a gun–in sme bars, a lot longer.


Generally, a compact series of actions and interactions that take place in a single location or between a single set of characters. A party of adventurers fleeing across the rooftops from town guards might consist of one scene, as might a series of conversations between a character and their contacts at a meeting. You know how scenes work from plays, movies, and television. A scene contains as many turns as pacing requires; a scene containing pure dialogue or itneraction ight have no turns per se in it at all.


One game session, sometimes called a chapter.


These represent minor arcs within a greater campaign and are generally complete with introduction, rising action, and climax. Some stories can take several sessions to complete; others can be finished in one. Some short stories are effectively vignettes that are nothing more than a single scene.


A series of stories connected by the characters themselves and their ongoing narrative. Some campaigns possess a unifying theme or overarching plot, and Cambria is no exception.

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