Welcome to The City of Thieves

It is not a greeting that invites images of safety, but you are not here for comfort. You seek the dangerous but profitable life of an adventurer. And it is well known throughout the Flanaess that the so-called “Free City of Greyhawk” is the best place for adventure. Whether you seek to plunder nearby Castle Greyhawk, an ancient fortress constructed by a mad archmage, plumb the depths beneath the burial mounds in the Cairn Hills, or even find adventure within the city itself, Greyhawk is the place to be.

It is not long before you wander into the River Quarter in search of the famous Green Dragon Inn. It is said that at one time the legendary group called the Citadel of Eight met here to scheme plans for loot and plunder, growing wealthy, famous, and powerful in the process. Although the Citadel of Eight has now disbanded and each surviving member has gone their separate ways, a myriad bunch of would-be heroes and adventurers regularly gather in the Green Dragon Inn to trade gossip on the latest scores, wheel and deal in so-called “treasure maps” which may or may not lead to hidden wealth, and to find associates whom they trust or at least associates whom they can tolerate. The Green Dragon Inn is rife with possibilities. Perhaps one day you will have great stories to tell like those of the Citadel of Eight, that is, if you can survive the perils of adventure.

Variants

  • Crafting a Magic Item: Magic item creation is possible, but will usually require special materials (e.g. a unicorn’s horn) depending on the nature of the item. Magic item creation can also be dangerous, resulting in various magical disasters or cursed items if a formula is not followed precisely. How well a crafting character follows that formula will be represented by a crafting check which is level-based. Having a proven magical formula to work with grants advantage on the roll (very rare). Designing a formula for a new magic item, lacking a formula, or working with a flawed or incomplete formula grants disadvantage on the roll.
  • Creating a Background: Adventurers come in all different stripes with many types of backgrounds. Players will be allowed to customize a background to suit their history for the character, and need not be limited by the backgrounds listed in the PH. The elements of the background are subject to DM approval however, and must fit the milieu. A “Beggar” background with Sleight of Hand as a skill is reasonable; Arcana would be a hard sell.
  • Injuries: The following conditions usually create permanent injuries: taking a critical hit, dropping to 0 hit points without dying, failing a death saving throw by 5 or more. Most of the injuries can be cured simply with magical healing or a Wisdom (Medicine) check and time, but a rare few are permanent, such as losing an eye or limb. This will make the game grim and gritty. And yes, this applies to monsters and NPCs as well.
  • Mixing Potions: Oh yes, you can combine a potion of healing with a potion of fire breath to try to get the effects of both with a single gulp. Or you could try to drink a second potion while still under the effect of another. But the result might be… unexpected.
  • More Difficult Magic Item Identification: A short rest is not sufficient to identify any but the most common of magic items (such as a potion of healing). Usually you will need to use an identify spell, experimentation, or both.
  • Rest Variant (Gritty Realism): A short rest is 8 hours and a long rest is 7 days. So resource conservation will be key! Adventuring will require careful planning. This more closely resembles the AD&D rules for resting and the benefits thereof. (Side note: I realize this severely hampers the warlock class, and I am just fine with that.)
  • Scroll Mishaps: Activating a magical scroll is not always so simple as reading the magical script. Note that checks are only necessary for spell scrolls containing spells of a higher level than your character is capable of casting. So a wise practitioner of magic will avoid the possibility of a mishap by simply not choosing to use such powerful spell scrolls.
  • Training to Gain Levels: It will take 10 days of downtime per tier plus a fee in gold and lifestyle expenses to level up (the gold fee might be waived in exchange for a favor to the trainer). This will force player characters to take downtime from time to time. It will also require finding trainers for powerful talents. This training can be done pro-actively up to one level in advance. But an alternative is to create a new character and play that character while the other is training.

Restricted Rules and Other House Rules

Pretty much any variant rule in the PH is included here unless otherwise stated (see Creating a Background above). This means no customizing abilities scores (you will have to roll on a dice roller of my choosing), no feats, no variant humans (although humans will receive 10% bonus experience or perhaps some other benefit to make up for the fact that the default human is pretty boring), only humans can multiclass, and just about any other variant rule you find in the PH (there are not many).

  • No drow, tieflings, or dragonborn. Drow and tieflings are almost categorically evil and would not even be allowed in most civilized places. Dragonborn simply do not exist in Greyhawk. Half-orcs will not have an easy time of things for that matter, but they are still allowed.
  • Only humans can be monks and paladins.
  • Most adventurers are fighters and rogues. Clerics and wizards are the second-most common. Barbarians, druids, and rangers are uncommon. Bards, monks, paladins, sorcerers and warlocks are rare. Allow these guidelines to influence your character creation.
  • Dwarf spellcasters are rare, but those who choose a non-spellcasting class receive advantage on all saving throws versus spells (fighter and rogue count so long as the character does not choose eldritch knight or arcane trickster).
  • Players may only use the Player’s Handbook unless explicit DM permission is granted.
  • XP is awarded after a short rest or a long rest (see above).

NPC Party Members

The following are rules for handling NPCs who join the adventuring party:

  • Take on an NPC as a full-fledged member of the party. In this case, the NPC receives a share of experience and a share of the treasure (however fair distribution of treasure is agreed within the party), and is otherwise treated as full member of the party. No check is required.
  • Hire an NPC as a hireling (henchman). First, you must offer him a wage, then you must make a Charisma (Persuasion) check. The order of the offer/check is important, as you do not know the result of the check before you make the offer, and difficulty of the check will depend upon the offer. For reference, the standard wage for a skilled hireling such as a man-at-arms is 2 gp per day (for a 1st-level hireling). A hireling receives a share of experience for encounters he takes part in, but not treasure. A hireling’s wage will become part of your lifestyle cost for as long as the hireling is with your group. This additional cost can be divided among the group if you desire.
  • Either way an NPC adventurer can eventually become a player-controlled character, either as a replacement for a resting, retired, or deceased PC, or as an additional character.

Mounted Combat

  • Any character with proficiency in Animal Handling can automatically mount or dismount a domesticated animal trained for riding as an interaction (as per Other Activity on Your Turn, PH 190). A character without proficiency in Animal Handling must use an Action to do so.
  • A mount which is attacked (this includes spells and effects which require a saving throw) immediately gain the frightened condition unless the rider succeeds on an Animal Handling check (DC varies by circumstance). Animals trained for battle (e. g. warhorse) are an exception to this rule.
  • Any mounted character with proficiency in Animal Handling can automatically guide a mount to move its speed instead of using the character’s speed. This does not require use of the proficient character’s hands. A character without proficiency must have at least one hand free to guide a mount in the same fashion. In either case, guiding a mount to Dash also requires the rider’s Action.

Greyhawk: City of Thieves

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