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Grimdark: A Sneak Peek
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Grimdark: A Sneak Peek


Big Rich started playing role-playing games in 1987. He has been a Gamemaster for most of the years to follow. Right now he acts as the Master Dungeonmaster for a group of roughly 24 regular players in his Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition campaigns. To this end, he constantly tries to keep things fun, fresh, and exciting. Using the simple but effective GRIMDARK system is one of those ways to keep things exciting at the table.

This is a sneak peek at the bare bones of a developing variant rules system for use with 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons. It is intended to alter the rules to create a dangerous "grim and gritty" system of play. This system is something that the author has used in his own homebrew campaigns. Excellent for "horror" stories and campaigns.

Essentially, the core rules of Armor Class and Hit Points are changed. Your character is a little easier to hit, and they have precious few Hit Points making them very fragile. Armor and shields are now protective equipment that reduces damage and requires constant repair to maintain its integrity. Critical Hit rules are altered to make them terrifying and now use the System Shock rules. 

All the rules here are taken from the references to "Gritty Realism" within the 5th edition DMG. This document is a sneak peek. It's got the core idea of GRIMDARK but it's not fancy or pretty to look at right now.  

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Richard G March 16, 2019 4:26 am UTC
The current digital file is the 3rd version with updates after playtesting.
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Linda T November 11, 2018 3:28 pm UTC
Could you give an example of combat using this system.
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Richard G November 12, 2018 7:45 pm UTC
Sure. The system makes changes to Core rules like how Armor Class and Hit Points are calculated. Armor Class no longer depends on shields and armor as these are moved to a system of Damage Reduction. However, as you suck up damage using your armor and shields, the Damage Threshold of your protective items slowly reduce making the possibility of harm more prevalent as your protective equipment is damaged in combat.
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Richard G November 12, 2018 8:18 pm UTC
So let's say GREYSOUL the FIGHTER has been ambushed by three Goblins. GREYSOUL has a total of 4 Hit Points using the GRIMDARK system. She is wearing Light Leather Armor and no shield. Her armor class is 13. The Goblins attack with their short swords, each scoring 2 points of damage. Since GREYSOUL is wearing Light Armor, the GRIMDARK rules for Damage Reduction kick in and the first 5 points of damage are assigned to the Armor, not GREYSOUL. However, that leaves 1 point of damage that is inflicted to GREYSOUL, reducing her Hit Points from 4 to 3. How long can she stand up to this kind of damage? Will her Leather armor be able to remain intact against the blades of the Goblins? Only time will tell.
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File Last Updated:
March 07, 2019
This title was added to our catalog on November 10, 2018.