5e Universal Meter Guide
From D&D Wiki
5th Edition Universal Meter Guide
D&D has, for the most part, always been very exclusive in character creation; classes follow certain paths with options along the way. This is useful for building a specific sort of world filled with common, vocational styled hero growths. The idea has always been, to some extent, 'how can I imagine someone in this world, from birth to adventure'. Which is good for certain purposes. But it isn't as good if you are trying to make a variable world. If you want worlds to collide then how do you do it? D&D has not tried to implement the canon of other fiction into it very often and the times it has it has been worlds already inspired by D&D itself or running parallel. It isn't difficult to implement ideas from a world that already uses class/race combos like Magic The Gathering or Warcraft. It is somewhat against the design philosophy of D&D to ask 'how do you bring Mario into D&D?'. One of my first adventures in D&D my DM was pretty up for anything. I played a moogle rogue, which worked out very nicely. On our adventure we found a version of Mario who was a fighter who we defeated, then later were tracked down by a Luigi who was a sorcerer. Certainly fun, but those weren't Mario and Luigi, they were Mario and Luigi as defined by 3.5 edition character creation. Bringing in outside ideas has always been more accurate when creating monsters than NPCs using PC creation rules, but that has limitations. Not the least of which is if you want to play as said characters. What D&D lacks is the universality of a system like GURPS or BESM. That is the aim of UD&D.
Why reinvent the wheel of fate?
5th edition is extremely well known; the system is familiar and highly functional. While there exist many interesting systems that are quite universal, they remain outside the knowledge of many potential players. Certainly there is a desire for this concept- just look at the many attempts to recreate characters using D&D. While all clever, I propose a system to get better results.
So the objective is, first and foremost, is to produce playable characters for any D&D setting that have a balancing system so said characters can have a level equivalent. Characters should mostly function in creation via point buy. While 'levels' aren't the true goal it is impossible to avoid some form of them, considering that is how the rest of the system is built. Particularly hit points and all hit dice functions are based around levels with certain features being limited by levels as well.
To some degree some trust is needed between DM and players in creation like this. This is not for making original characters. Original characters should not need a universal system; they exist in a world that has classes and races and whatever those entail, as well as backgrounds and- yes, equipment too.
To that end, equipment likewise should be removed from character creation in this way. Or at the very least it should be possible to build a character in this method that does not interact with the acquisition, replacement and removal of gear through traditional adventuring methods of finding loot and buying gear with gold gained from victory. Such a character may in the story find something that 'activates' what would amount to a gear upgrade but such things should be part of character growth process.
Project Design Direction
The basic goal is to get every possible function in the game- be it items, skills, magic and features and boil them down to a value. Each function will also have requirements. With all this a system should be established for what brings a character to a new level, which should be used as requirement gates for many functions. Characters should be assumed to have their own equipment as part of their creation. Money is inherently less important to characters made this way- they often come with a signature weapon, armour that is either part of their being or already acquired. A character built in this fashion is not going to be selling their equipment to get new things. Money should not be a method of character creation but be a matter similar to background aspects. If characters are improved over multiple sessions, improvements should be reflected in ways traditionally shown through item acquisition and leveling up but can also gain things traditionally limited to racial traits.
Guidelines for Reference
This project will try to make use of Bounded Accuracy, The Three Pillars of Adventure and the more specific guides from the D&D Wiki of the Musicus Meter (5e Guideline), Scoring Homebrew Nonmagical Weapons (5e Guideline), Feat Design (5e Guideline), Race Design (5e Guideline) and the Marasmusine Meter (5e Guideline).
Determining Character Value with the Universal Meter
Simply put, CV points, are used to purchase features of the character being created. A DM can set an expected CV for those in the campaign and add a certain amount after each session to represent growth.
Weapon use in the Universal Meter is still determined by proficiency. Weapons are created individually, given a weapon value to determine what proficiency is needed, then a character must spend the points to have the proficiencies they want.
Determining Weapon Value
Damage is the value assigned to the die value of the attack. 1d3 or weaker attacks cost nothing with every size die above that costing 2 points more points. Going from 1d6 to 1d8 is a 4 point increase.
Light weapons costs half of the damage cost in points in addition to the original points for damage (e.g., a dagger is 2 points for damage; it is also light which is another 1 point for a total of 3). Light weapons can not be versatile or two handed.
Versatile weapons that give a higher damage die when used two handed, is a 2 point feature. Note that the versatile feature can not be applied to 2d4 or 1d12 weapons. 1d8 versatile weapons are 1d10 when used two handed. Ranged weapons can not be versatile. Thrown weapons can be versatile but can not use the two handed damage when throwing.
|Damage Die||Base Cost||Light Cost||Versatile Cost|
Reach is a feature that costs 4 points that is used on melee weapons applied by default to a two handed weapon. A one handed reach weapon is another 2 points. A light reach weapon is 4 more points. Both features together is 6, making for a total of 10 points.
|One Handed||Two Handed|
Ranged weapon cost is based on the distance the weapon can hit. The cost starts at 1 point for 20/60 and increases by 1 for each additional range category. Ranged weapons cost an additional point if they are light, unless they are also a thrown weapon.
Thrown is applied to melee weapons to allow them to all have a ranged attack by throwing. This does not directly add to the cost.
|Range Category||Base Cost||Light Cost (Not Thrown)|
All ranged weapons are considered to have the ammunition property unless they have the thrown property. A ranged weapon without the ammunition property costs 1 point.
Finesse weapons cost 2 points.
Weapons can have flaws which lower their cost as well.
Two handed is a weapon flaw which requires both hands to use. Two handed weapons cost 3 less points.
Heavy is a flaw that can be added to a two handed weapon. It functions differently due to how weapons and characters are created; having a disadvantage only for small characters makes this an obvious choice for medium characters. As such, heavy weapons can be used by any character. Drawing a heavy weapon can not be done during movement or attack like most weapons; it requires an action, half movement or a bonus action. This isn't required if the weapon is laying on a table, the floor or against a wall instead of stowed on the character. A Heavy weapon is 1 less point.
Loading is a weapon flaw usually exclusive to ranged weapons. Weapons with the loading property cost 2 less.
Extended Weapon Features
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Glove is a feature that makes the weapon unable to be disarmed (though it can be removed with an action). Gloves can not be versatile or two handed. It costs 3 points.
Returning is a feature added to throwing weapons that returns the weapon to the user after an attack unless it is intercepted. As with much of D&D the realism of this feature is questionable, however, unless it is magically returning it is possible to interrupt the process. Someone attacked or within 5 feet of the path of the returning weapon can use their reaction to do a disarm action; failure to disarm will result in the reacting character and the original target, if not the same character, to be potentially hit (any new targets must also be rolled with the same bonuses as the original attack). This can be mitigated if the disarm is done after the original target is hit. This costs 2 points.
All weapons have at least one standard type (Bludgeoning, Piercing, Slashing). An additional standard type can be added for 1 point. All three types can not be present on the same weapon.
Non-standard damage types can also be selected at varying cost.
Acid: Acid weapons deliver chemical (or alchemical) substances. Actually hitting with the weapon does no damage, it is a matter of if the weapon spreads the chemical effectively that is determined with an attack role. Ranged weapons typically take the form of a pressure nozzle delivery. This usually isn't applied to thrown weapons. Melee is usually some form of an aspergillum. This always has the 'ammunition' feature. Attacks with acid weapons have advantage on metal objects and do double damage to them. This costs 2 points.
Cold: Cold weapons are generally at least slightly magical, but the magic only makes the weapon spread cold; it isn't magical itself for overcoming damage resistance. Ranged weapons actually often seem like snowballs; melee is an ethereal 'blade' that does damage when it goes through a target. Cold usually can't be applied to thrown weapons. Cold weapons can be used to make a 5 foot square difficult terrain for four turns. Ranged and thrown can do so within one range increment. Melee weapons can do so within 5 feet (or 10 for reach weapons). Using both action and movement a user can make a trail of difficult terrain for the length of one quarter their standard movement. This costs 2 points.
Fire: Fire weapons belch fire, often actually just a liquid set ablaze. Ranged are usually something like flamethrowers. It usually isn't applied to thrown weapons without the returning property. Melee often takes the form of something like a gigantic lighter. All fire weapons have the 'ammunition' feature and can ignite items. Igniting an item on a person is an opposed dexterity check after a successful hit. This costs 2 points.
Force: Force is always magical and can not be applied in a non-magical way; these weapons do overcome resistance to non-magical weapons for a steep cost. Most force weapons appear to be wands and staves and rarely are melee. The cost is 7 points.
Lightning: Lightning weapons are portable zappers. In general they look similar to tasers and electric prods. On a successful hit the target's next movement is decreased by one half; this can not stack. The cost is 2 points.
Necrotic: Necrotic weapons leech life. Usually they are made of bones and leave green energy trails back to the user from their target. They are usually made of bones or rotting flesh but sometimes blood red illusory blades. On a successful hit they heal the user 4 damage dice lower to a minimum of 1 (1d10 does 1d4, 2d4 does 1d3, 1d8 does 1d2, 1d6 does 1). This healing only occurs if the target is not resistant or immune to necrotic damage. This costs 6 points.
Poison: Poison weapons are ones that can inflict some poison on a target, sometimes making use of fangs and tails of wild animals or chemicals. On a successful hit a poison weapon can inflict the poisoned status condition with a constitution saving throw to ignore with a DC equal to the poison damage done in the attack; this lasts for 1 round and will stack. This costs 3 points.
Psychic: While most psychic damage is done from someone's own brain to another, a weapon that does psychic damage is a device that replicates this damage. Even weapons considered melee do not directly touch opponents; the motion of melee swings power the attacks which seek brains in front of the swing. Motion with these devices disrupts psychic wave lengths to create the attack- if they somehow 'hit' the target they actually do no damage (this is just flavor, and like all details can be ignored and does not affect how success is determined). On a successful hit the target will be at disadvantage to intelligence and wisdom for two turns; this can not stack. This costs 4 points.
Thundering: Often slightly magical, the damage made by these weapons is not considered magical once used. Usually these weapons appear as musical instruments and be used for mundane musical performances. On a successful hit a thundering weapon can inflict the deafened status condition with a constitution saving throw to ignore with a DC equal to the thundering damage done in the attack; this lasts for 1 round and will stack. This costs 2 points.
Radiant: Radiant weapons are sources of holy energy. Visually they look like other common weapons but glow with holy light. On a successful hit a radiant weapon can inflict the blind status condition with a constitution saving throw to ignore with a DC equal to the radiant damage done in the attack; this lasts for 1 round and will stack. This costs 5 points.
What the scores mean
The score is a 'weapon value', indicating what level of training is needed to use such a weapon. A weapon with a score of 7 or lower is considered 'simple', a weapon between 8 and 13 is 'martial'. Weapons 14 and 16 are 'unwieldy'; characters should not generally be able to use unwieldy weapons if they are starting out and such weapons are considered as part of the 'extended rules'. An unwieldy weapon can not be used at all if there isn't proficiency.
When determining CV (Character Value) from weapon proficiencies it should be started that all characters have one simple weapon proficiency for free. Going up from that to a second simple weapon proficiency is 5 points. A third is 3 points. Having unlimited simple weapon proficiencies is 2 more points than that (10 total points.)
All martial weapon proficiency requires unlimited simple weapon proficiency. The first martial weapon proficiency is 10 points. Going up from that to a second martial weapon proficiency is 5 points. A third is 3 points. Having unlimited martial weapon proficiencies is 2 more points than that (20 total points; if including simple cost, 30 total points.)
Only one unwieldy weapon proficiency can be taken. It requires unlimited martial weapon proficiency. The cost for one is 20 points (a total of 50).
Access to the weapons in question is included in the cost. Weapons with ammunition can be used 50 times before needing to be restored. Thrown weapons come in sets of 5 and can be recovered after battle. Towns should restore a character's ammunition and thrown weapons but might also be restored within dungeons. Light weapons always come in double the number; 100 uses of ammunition, 10 throwing weapons and a second weapon for off hand use.
(Dev comment: while character classes often include far more than three of a weapon category that the class can not use entirely, that would be excessive in this type of character creation. Class proficiencies are broad so as to include many concepts for many characters; a rogue could use any of a number of weapons effectively so the wide but specific set in the class fits to make many kinds of rogues. Characters created using the universal meter do not have unused proficiencies.)
(Dev comment: the universal meter does not use gold, at least not precisely. How a character obtains the weapons they use, and the ammunition, is best determined between player and DM. Ammo should not be too difficult to come by unless that is the point of the campaign; in such a situation ammo weapons may need to have one less weapon value to make up for this weakness. Similarly, a weapon might be made with a lower score if it specifically has hard to obtain ammunition.)
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