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Bastards and Bloodlines: Variant Inheritance Rules for 5E. Pt 1- Heavy Lies the Crown

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Bastards and Bloodlines: Variant Inheritance Rules for 5E. Pt 1- Heavy Lies the Crown (Version 1.0)

I was a lord by birth, my father told me. A king's heart beat in me- and if only I could grow strong enough, I could return and take back what was mine. There were times I considered my father insane- until one day I came across the treasures he had hidden. He was a bard by trade, and we made next to no money, just enough for the two of us to get by. But here was gold and scrolls and rings he had never sold. When I asked him about it, he told me they were my mother's and grandfather's. He told me he was the husband of a Princess of a nation that no longer existed, that my grandfather was struck down in battle with a devil and monsters that looked like men. He had been entrusted with my safety, with my mother's safety, but she had died of a broken heart once she knew that I was safe- the strain of losing her father, her family in one stroke was too much to her after the toll of the journey.

I asked him why we had never gone to my mother's friends, and he told me that if any man knew of my true heritage, the men that had taken the kingdom would come to kill me. I lived not only for myself and my father any more. Now, the burden of a king was mine. I grew strong, and wise. Most women and many men were taken by my appearance, a fact that would eventually be my undoing- I was recognizable. I became aware of a man following us in dark robes. He pursued us for about a week, though he never attempted anything. It was only at the end of his time following us why I realized he was behaving so.

When we were resting in a bar, four bounty hunters showed up with a piece of paper and identified me as a prince of some sort. It seems the bounty was very high, because they were outfitted with all sorts of gear and magical items. The man who had followed us came out of a corner and demanded they leave, and they seemed to recognize him. One of the hunters attempted to hold him in place with magic, but quickly got a throwing knife to the throat for his troubles. The bar erupted into chaos, and after the dust had cleared, the cowled man had lost his hood and most of his blood. A Southern man with more scars than eyes, he wiped his brow of blood and asked me, "So you're that Prince, right? You look like you need some combat training."

Many player characters come from traditionally ordinary origins, becoming heroes through their deeds. However, both in legend and reality, the weight of parentage and relations is not to be underestimated. A hero takes up his father's sword, a curse is placed on a name, the activator of some magical artifact must be related to its creator.

In this case, the crown of a kingdom or empire falls to an heir, sometimes an unexpected one. The blood of royalty is often glorious and sometimes tainted with woe. Whatever the case, it passes on to its holder either to fanfare or the sound of sharpening knives. With this double-edged sword in mind, a player character with royal blood may appeal for the following optional rules to their character to account for their unusual heritage.

Royal Features:
There's an old wives' tale, true or not, that one can simply tell if a subject is royal by their mannerisms and appearance- as if the demeanor of a king were born rather than taught. Players seeking to indulge or support this claim can choose from telltale signs that identify their character:

Unusual Birthmark: A birthmark that cannot be concealed or truly reproduced with magic or makeup, this is a true sign of royal or even divine heritage. It can be concealed, but if revealed it cannot be denied- its properties are magical as well as physical, and nothing short of a Wish spell or divine intervention can remove it or change its location. An unusual birthmark can be specifically passed on to all members of a bloodline that meet particular requirements- all males or females, for example, or can be slightly different depending on who inherits it. It must be significant enough to be visible and distinguishable on close inspection.

Supernatural Beauty: Royalty usually inherit pleasing looks from their parents, partially because royals can afford to choose their spouses and partially because people are more likely to follow a handsome prince than one who is not, all other things being equal. But your comeliness goes far beyond that. Any humanoid that can see your face must make a Charisma saving throw with a save DC equal to 10+your Charisma modifier- if they fail, they are charmed by you as long as they can see you or until you or your companions do something harmful to it. If they succeed on this saving throw, they cannot be charmed by this feature for another 24 hours.
Any creature that is constantly in your presence, such as a companion, ally, or retainer, has advantage on this save. However, your beauty is so great that it leads others to act irrationally, and not always in your favor. While charmed in this way, a creature is subjected to an emotional effect either chosen at the discretion of the DM/player or rolled at random from the following table:
d8 | Result
1 | Desire: I must make this person my friend, companion or lover.
2 | Awe: I've never seen beauty like this, and it staggers me with surprise.
3 | Jealousy: I must have an appearance such as this myself.
4 | Meekness: I'm not worthy of this person's presence.
5 | Fascinated: Little favors are a small price to pay simply to gaze at such handsomeness.
6 | Protection: Such beauty cannot be allowed to come to harm.
7 | Hatred: Such beauty can't be real. This is an illusion, or worse, an abomination!
8 | Distraction: I don't know or care what this person is saying, I just want to keep looking at them.

Signature Weapon: Swords are often the chosen weapon of nobility, but any weapon or fighting style passed down a bloodline can suffice. As part of your specialized royal weapons training, you learn a ritual that creates a magical bond between yourself and one weapon you are proficient in. You perform the ritual over the course of 1 hour, which can be done during a long rest. The weapon must be within your reach throughout the ritual, at the conclusion of which you touch the weapon and forge the bond.
Once you have bonded a weapon to yourself, it is considered your signature weapon. When you are wielding your signature weapon, it is treated as a magical weapon, and you have advantage on saves against being disarmed of it. You may also choose from two of the following benefits:
  • You add half of your proficiency bonus rounded down to damage rolls involving this weapon.
  • As a reaction while wielding your signature weapon, you can immediately add your Wisdom modifier either to one saving throw of your choice or your armor class until the end of your next turn. You must complete a short or long rest before using this feature again.
  • When you roll a 20 on your attack roll with your signature weapon, your critical hit deals an additional 2d4 Fire, Cold, Poison, Necrotic, Radiant, Lightning, Thunder or Force damage, or an additional 2d6 damage of the weapon's type. You choose what type of damage the weapon deals when you make the bond with it, and cannot change it until you make a new bond.
  • When you roll a 20 on your attack roll with your signature weapon, you can use your reaction to regain hit points equal to one-half of the damage you dealt with the attack. You must complete a short or long rest before using this feature again.
  • As a bonus action, you can call your signature weapon to you, instantly teleporting it to your hand if it is on the same plane of existence as you.
  • You gain the Thaumaturgy cantrip, if you do not already have it, and can use your signature weapon as a spell focus to cast it.

In addition to the benefits of the signature weapon, you must also choose at least two of the following penalties:
  • Your training with your signature weapon weakens your skills with your other weapons. You take a -2 penalty to attack rolls with weapons other than your signature weapon.
  • Your signature weapon makes you foolhardy and overconfident. You take a -1 penalty to Armor Class while wielding it.
  • Your signature weapon requires regular tribute to function. Every day, you must spend 5 gp worth of rare materials to upkeep the superior make of the weapon, or lose the benefits of the weapon.
  • Your signature weapon requires you follow some specific oath (to be determined by your DM) or lose its benefits.

Reincarnated Hero:
Royalty have the tendency to repeat history. Through some strange power or fluke, you are the reincarnation of one of your ancestors, or benefit from their wisdom. Once per long rest, you can enter a trance to speak with one of your ancestors on some matter of your choice, as if you had cast the Speak with Dead spell without the need for a corpse (your body is the focus of the spell). At the end of your questioning, you must make a DC 13 Charisma save. Failure means that your attempt to contact one of your ancestors has left their spirit in command of your body for a short period. For an hour afterwards, your character's personality, ideals, bonds, and flaws are replaced with those of the ancestor.

Speak for the Beasts: Your connection with nature allows you to know the language of animals. You are treated as always under the effects of a Speak with Animals spell, and while you may often ask favors of animals, they will also ask favors of you as one of the few who can regularly speak with them. Animals may seek sanctuary with you, and while they will not begrudge you for eating meat (predators do as well), they will communicate with one another your treatment of them- torturing a squirrel will not earn you any favors with a bear, for example.

Noblesse Oblige: Your oath to protect your land gives you power, but it is still an oath. You are always treated as under the effects of a Geas* spell following a specific oath (usually involving protecting your land), but while you are acting in direct pursuit of that oath, you and two other allies of your choice are treated as under the benefits of a Bless spell.

Favored Blood: Sometimes the right to rule comes in the form of magic. You gain the benefits of the Dragon Mark feat from Unearthed Arcana, and do not need to expend material components to use the spells on the list. However, your hit points and hit point maximum are reduced by 1d4 when you cast one of the non-cantrip spells under the Least column with this feature, 4d4 when you cast one of the spells under the Lesser column using this feature, and 8d4 when you cast one of the spells under the Greater column with this feature. This reduction canít be lessened in any way, and the reduction to your hit point maximum lasts until you finish a long rest. If your hit points would be reduced to 0 by this feature, they are reduced to 1 instead and the spell fails.
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*Modified Geas:
Level: 5
Casting time: 1 Minute
Range: 60 feet
Components: V
Duration: 30 days
You place a magical command on a creature that you can see within range, forcing it to carry out some service or refrain from some action or course of actiity as you decide.
If the creature can understand you, it must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or become charmed by you for the duration. While the creature is charmed by you, its hit points and hit point maximum are reduced by 5 and it gains a level of exhaustion each time it acts in a manner directly counter to your instructions, but no more than once each day. This hit point reduction and level of exhaustion cannot be removed until the creature subjected to it goes a day without acting in a manner directly counter to your instructions. A creature that canít understand you is unaffected by the spell.

You can issue any command you choose, short of an activity that would result in certain death. Should you issue a suicidal command, the spell ends. You can end the spell early by using an action to dismiss it. A remove curse, greater restoration, or wish spell also ends it.

At higher level

When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 7th or 8th level, the duration is 1 year.
When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 9th level, the spell lasts until it is ended by one of the spells mentioned above.

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Updated 03-20-2017 at 05:54 PM by DarkisnotEvil (Slight Rule Modification)

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