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2017 Update: Basic Rules 1.3 & More

Let's change up what we've been talking about over the last few weeks. Today, let's talk about some upcoming revisions and what to expect in the next release of the basic rules.

So first up, a little background. If you already know a little about why this website exits, or don't really care, you can skip ahead to the first heading below to get to the real meat of the article. I'm going to try to keep it short, as there already is a page on the website which repeats some of this stuff.

When I first started this project, I was a brand new DM that was so incredibly inspired by this fantastic game. A group of friends had been talking for months about starting up a game night and we tossed around the idea of playing D&D. A few months later, I bought the starter set and we were hooked.

As I've mentioned elsewhere on this site, as much fun as the game was, the world of the Forgotten Realms was pretty foreign to me. I had played Baldur's Gate on Playstation 2 when it was new, which I didn't even realize was part of the D&D universe until I became more familiar with the Sword Coast. After reading through the Player's Handbook and the Dungeon Master's Guide, it was obvious that this world was massive, filled with cities, races, gods, and monsters, each with rich histories. It wasn't until later that I started hearing about the multiverse and Ebberon and Spelljammer and other words that are nearly meaningless to me.

These unknown worlds are really quite intimidating for a new player. Or at the very least, for me as a new player. I wasn't prepared to take on a new fiction and devote myself to learning the lore to get into the character of the world and its denizens. I was, however, excited to play this game in my favorite fantasy setting since the mid-90's.

I immediately jumped online to find some homebrew information about Elder Scrolls settings. I found a couple of half started ideas that looked promising, but they seemed to be abandoned. The others that were a bit more fledged out, seemed half-baked or straight wrong. So I took on the daunting task of creating my own version.

This wasn't exactly easy, and it took a lot of inspiration to get me started. Thankfully, my love for Elder Scrolls and the excitement of a new game took care of most of this. The hardcover Elder Scrolls lore books had recently come out, giving me something to read at night, and I was making my way through the Elder Scrolls novels. That was enough to get my mind into the world setting, but the rules of D&D needed a bit more. In hindsight, I was definitely a little too excited about the Elder Scrolls, and didn't take enough time to wrap my head around the subtleties of good game design.

But I wasn't without D&D inspiration. I deeply desired to quickly strengthen my DM skills so I could keep my players as excited about everything as I was. I took to the interwebs in search for, well, pretty much anything, since literally anyone with any DM experience was already more experienced than I was. I think my favorite inspiration came from the Angry GM. If you aren't aware of him, and you are a DM, go check out his amazing, angry filled, articles.


When I first jumped into creating content, I intended to make only a handful of classes. 5 to be exact. But as I got into those, it just didn't have the iconic feel of the Elder Scrolls. So those 5 quickly jumped to 10, and then grew to the 12 that are available today. There was also a brief period where I started writing rule sets for a classless version, but that's a mess best not talked about.

Anyway, in the beginning, what I really wanted to do was take the D&D 5e engine and use that as a starting point for an Elder Scrolls game. If you've been following the site for some time, you might remember a magic system that had almost no resemblance to D&D at all. There even used to be several pages with dozens of custom spells, along with hundreds of unnecessarily reskinned spells. All of that time could have been spent doing something useful, like creating a monster manual, but at least I am a lot more familiar with the spell list that I used to be.

Today, you will still find some of those old artifacts of a failed conversion. Those are most prominently featured in the custom skills that are currently still in use. The other remaining feature is a combination of existing and unique damage types. Those damage types are: Bludgeoning, Disease, Frost, Fire, Piercing, Magic, Poison, Shadow, Shock, Slashing, and Sunlight. Most of these damage types are just renamed versions of a similar damage type. Frost is Cold. Shadow is Necrotic. Sunlight is Radiant. But there are still a few outliers. What does Magic replace? How does Disease fit in? Many of these damage types are found mostly through spells. If you take a look at the spells page, there is a massive spreadsheet that lists every D&D 5e spell, and notes a possible revised name and revised damage type. As nice as that might be, I'm pretty sure it only still exists out of the stubbornness of not wanting to let go of so many dozens of hours spent on rewriting every single spell to suit a magic system that was eventually trashed. But I digress.


What I really wanted to talk to you about is the change from the custom skills to the standard D&D skills. This change effects a number of different areas, including races, classes, and backgrounds, as well as the general descriptions of the skill in the basic rules, which will now just read the same as the official rules.

I think this change to conversion will really help make this feel more familiar to D&D fans, while still having those Elder Scrolls elements from the custom classes and items, and hopefully some upcoming monsters. As I said above, I originally wanted to make an Elder Scrolls game based on D&D, but a while ago I really started to change my philosophy and wanted to make a D&D game based on the Elder Scrolls. Keeping the conversion more familiar to D&D is going to be a lot easier to pick up for interested DM's and Player's alike, and I want this to be as easy to use as possible.

I also want the different classes to be interchangeable from both systems. If you have a player that absolutely loves the D&D 5e Druid, always plays a Druid and never anything else, they aren't likely to be too willing to play your fantastic Elder Scrolls game that doesn't include the Druid class, no matter how awesome of a story you've set up. So, I really want you to be able to take that D&D class, as written in the Player's Handbook, and bring it into this world. Maybe the character is a Green Pact Druid, or a shape-changing worshiper of hiricine. I also want that to be true of Fighter's, Rogues, and Wizards. Anything that you are willing to let your players play should be easy for you to bring into the game. You shouldn't have to adjust your game based on some poorly designed homebrew.

So I've taken the time to look at the skills and have replacements ready to go for that, which you can see those plans laid out below. What I haven't done is played with the various damage types. I think I might be still a little torn and stubborn about having to stop creating new content to fix things that have already been written, but I want to ask you what you think.

Should I update the damage types, along with the skills, to all be in touch with the D&D standard, making the game easier to convert to and easier to pick up for both players and DM's?

I'm pretty sure I already know what the right answer is, but it might be helpful to have encouragement from you.


Just before the holiday break I was able to get out the first edition of the basic rules, which was a huge step forward. So far I've had over a hundred downloads of the basic rules, and traffic has surged on the website this month. Those rules attracted some new people to the site which have been sending fantastic critiques and information, and I'm so happy to be talking with you. Your input has been very valuable and inspiring to keep working.


As I've already discussed, a big part of the next basic rules update is going to be revising the skills, and most likely the damage types, to the standards from 5e. There are few other updates that will make their way into the update, mostly inspired by comments from you. This includes updating different class features in the same class to use the same attribute. The Crusader and the Mage are two examples of this, where the Crusader would require Willpower for casting spells, but also needed Personality to augment their features. This will be streamlined to only need to focus on one of those attributes. There are also a few tweaks that will go out to the barbarian, spellsword, and warrior.


Over the holiday, I put together a list of content that I aspire to work on this year, and I'm excited about some of the ideas I've rattled around. With the basic rules well on their way, especially after this next, relatively major update, I'll be able to focus on a few big ticket items that are missing from the site. The first step is definitely the basic rules, but after that, the things that will really help DM's create a living world in Tamriel will be items and monsters. Maybe even a few starter ideas of how to write the cities and delves of Tamriel, along with lore about the factions and races.

Of course, as soon as I put these things in order, I received some real life news that is most likely going to take up a lot of my free time this year. I have been able to keep busy with this project so far, but I don't want to over promise, just in case the realities of life take away more time than I anticipated.

Other than that, I want you to know that I am excited about what I'm working on and can't wait to share everything with you. I also want you to know that a lot of what I work on is inspired by what you are asking for. If there's something out there that you really want or need to help you out with your own game, please let me know here and I can take a look at how I would handle or create it. Also, if you've made some tweaks to the classes to work for your own game, or have written some monsters or items for your Elder Scrolls setting, let me know what they are! If you want, you can share them here and help create content for everyone.

Thanks for reading and being a part of this hobby.

Until next time.

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