As I mentioned in my prior post, I am looking to build upon Dungeons and Dragons/5th edition/5e for our custom shared world, Feyruin, so I have been trying to figure out where I want to modify first in the game to make D&D more align with our group’s sensibilities.1. I had always been a “rules as written” sort of player and thought there was a “right way” to play the game though now I realize the game belongs to every table you should make the game your own, and it is at its best when that is occurring.

Character Backgrounds

I have written up a few backgrounds that further embed the characters in the world and I like how Level Up Advanced 5e does backgrounds, which brings together character culture, and species to create allowances for the multitudes that are reflected in everyone.

A table showing the different parts of the Level Up 5e Origin System2

I don’t think I am a fan of binding a feat to a background. I liked the idea initially though then I heard this great Mastering Dungeons podcast and they convinced me it was a bad idea as then you get players picking the background to optimize too much. They used an example of the Cleric with a Criminal Background though I think another good one is the Outlander and Fighter. I think backgrounds can set the mood and from the design perspective add high value.2

Character Classes

I don’t want to change too much in the character classes as I think that can easily out of hand. I do feel comfortable reflavoring mechanics though and adding more depth and story to subclasses. This is much like how you can ground the backgrounds in your world you can ground the subclasses by making them less generic.


I have thought about the spell list in Dungeons and Dragons since I played a Barbarian last year. and felt that Wizards had so much more to do during exploration and social encounters. This may mean I just shouldn’t play martial classes and should only play spell casters though I think the spells at higher levels change the game. I also don’t find the spell schools very evocative and they don’t lend much to the game. I’d like to swap out the schools for more descriptive variants like Pyromancy, Cryomancy, etc. This would be pretty straightforward. I am getting set to run my first 2nd tier game (8th) at some point this Summer or Spring so we shall see how that experience goes re: spells. I am not going to do anything radical till after the game though I am excited about the possibilities.

None of these changes are required of course though I enjoy the game design opportunity and like the chance to make the game our own.

  1. This is one thing that I have appreciated about the Eclipse Phase game. The system is SO closely tied to the setting. Dungeons and Dragons is a great generic fantasy game and I think the game can only be improved at the table by modifying it to fit your game. 

  2. pg. 25 Favor, Akeem, and Amber Underwood. Level Up Advanced 5th Edition Adventurer’s Guide. En Publishing, n.d.  2