Alcohol Rules (3.5e Variant Rule)

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Function of these rules[edit]

These rules were invented for the politically orientated setting of Lands of Blamakar (DnD Campaign Setting) and as such are designed to reflect the fact that alcohol is debilitating without treating it as an ingested poison and with minimal dice rolling. These rules require a little bit of time and effort by the DM and PCs before the game, but the in game effects are quite simple and quick to resolve once all the numbers are known.

What they are[edit]

These rules represent a slightly fantastic view of alcohol causing tipsiness, singing or violent shouting and then unconsciousness. Also incorporated are rules for death by alcohol poisoning and hangovers, but these are marginalised. These rules allow for a reasonable system in a game without delicate issues such as addiction. (Although feel free to add these in your games.)

What they are not[edit]

What I have avoided in these rules is trying to create a realistic system or a true depiction of what getting drunk is like. This is a game mechanic, not a responsible anti-drinking or a not so responsible pro-drinking pamphlet. The rules here are approximately as realistic as DnD's combat rules. You can make attacks and hit people, but bodkin arrows don't go through fullplate like they should, nor does anything else. These rules also offer almost no bonuses for being drunk, the one exception being a bonus against fear effects.

Alcohol potency ratings[edit]

Any drink has what is known as a potency rating(PR). This is made up of two parts, strength and size. It represents the effective total amount of alcohol in the drink. The full stat block of a drink therefore runs as follows:







It is calculated by multiplying strength and size together.


This is measured on a scale where the strength is any whole positive number. The range is typically from about 2 (for weak ale drunk throughout the day due to the fact that it is the only way to get clean water) to about 64 (The strongest dwarven triple distilled spirits or finest elven wines). Negative values are possible for alchemical mixtures that purge alcohol.


This is measured on a scale where the size is a whole number based off 32=1 pint glass. A size of 1 is 1/32 of this size. The largest size typically encountered outside of the giant races is the dwarven stein at 40.


In many fantasy settings dwarven ale is usually very strong, as is elven wine. Establish a few precedents for you setting to ensure that PCs understand what it is they are ordering. Try to hint at the strength by serving it in a logically sized receptacle.

Alcohol tolerance values[edit]

A character's alcohol tolerance values are slightly more complicated but remain mostly static. Follow the formula below.

((Con mod + 10% of your Base Fort Save + racial bonus vs poison + racial bonus (below) + 1/2 fort save bonus from feats) + (3*con score))*2

So a 1st level human commoner with a con score of 12 and the great fortitude feat would have:


Whereas an 8th level dwarven barbarian with a con score of 21 would have:


Racial bonuses

Human 0

Halfling -2

Gnome -1

Dwarf +8 for dwarven ales and spirits, +2 for all else

Elf +8 for elven wines and spirits, +2 for all else

Half elf +1

Orc +3

Half orc +2

Common goblin -2

Other goblinoids +1

Resolving drinking[edit]

Alcohol tolerance is used as follows. Compare the amount of alcohol drunk in an hour plus the reduced values for previous hours (half the value for each hour that passes. Ignore after eight hours.) in terms of PR to the Alcohol tolerance. If the value equals or goes over tolerance then make a fortitude save against poison DC=amount gone over. Natural 1s and 20s count only as the number, not auto pass/fails. For every failure and for every 5 points over that failure they take one point of damage to their Dex and then to their Wis, alternating. So someone who failed by 21 would take -3 dex, -2 wis. Dex and Wis can never go below 1 from alcohol. Damage beyond this should be taken from Con. Con can reach 0, and subsequently kill the player.

If the loss of constitution causes your health to drop down to 0 or below, you are stable, but unconscious. You gain a bonus +1 vs. Fear Effects for every 10 PR you've consumed.

Value Exceeded By Dexterity Damage Wisdom Damage
0 1 0
5 1 1
10 2 1
15 2 2
20 3 2

Damage heals after eight hours except Con damaged which is treated as normal.

A hang over occurs after a subject takes any drinking damaged. It imposes a -1 penalty per two points of damage taken on all skill checks and will saves for 8 hours after all of the damage goes away.

For example the above commoner drinks two tankards of weak ale (PR 32) an hour for three hours. After hour one hour:

32+32=64 Alcohol tolerance of 76. No effect.

After two hours:

32+32+1/2(32+32)=96 Alcohol tolerance of 76. Exceeded by 20. Rolls a fort save (bonus of +4 total). Rolls a total of 14. Failed by 6 so takes one point of drinking damage to dex and one to wis.

After three hours:

32+32+1/2(32+32)+1/4(32+32)=112 Alcohol tolerance of 76. Exceeded by 36. Rolls a fort save (bonus of +4 total). Rolls a total of 23. Failed by 13 so takes 2 points of drinking damage to dex and one to wis.

After these penalties vanish he would then take a -2 penalty on all skills for 8 hours.

Spells and Alcohol[edit]

Most spells treat alcohol as a poison. Restoration spells do not affect drinking damage except for the Con damage.

See also on D&D Wiki[edit]

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