Manpower (5e Variant Rule)

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This rule gives mechanical rules to a number of related gray areas and roleplay dependent elements of gameplay.

  • Improves the gameplay usefulness and vailidity of the charisma ability, as well as classes which depend on it, such as the bard.
  • Gives a concrete way of calculating a character's authority, influence, and leadership skill, which can be applied to the game in a practical manner.

Characters with a high CHR score will now have a dramatic advantage over the less socially adept, being able to command a small army of soldiers. Such a character is no longer the squishy buffoon- they have people to take the hits and do the hitting for them. That rogueish bard you wanted to be leader that everyone would normally laugh at and ignore? He's a man now. He has the authority and the resources to be called "leader", and as a lvl 20 fighter may do the work of 200 men, provided he is superhumanly strong, a lvl 20 bard may call upon the hearts of 200 men, provided he is superhumanly persuasive.

The Change[edit]

Each character now has a stat called "manpower". To determine how much manpower you have, follow this formula:

(5 + CHR modifier) × Character Level × status modifier

Think of manpower like the points used in tabletop wargames to build armies. Different units cost different amounts of points. In the case of D&D, an NPC costs his level in manpower, while a monster costs its CR in manpower. So, though a lvl 20 +5CHR character could command 200 men, they would all be first level. That same character could, instead, command 10 lvl20 characters. Alternatively, they could command 1,600 1/8CR monsters- if he can find and somehow subjugate that many of a given thing.


A character's role in society will amplify their manpower by a status modifier. This is how less charismatic people in higher positions can still maintain some manner of control. The modifier ranges from 1-5, depending on what tier of society they are in.

  1. The peasants, commoners, working folk, criminals, clergymen, and rank-and-file soldiers. This also includes first-rank faction members. (Harper Watchers, Order of the Gauntlet Chevalls, Emerald Enclave Spring Wardens, Lord's Alliance Cloaks, and Zhentarim Fangs) They really have no status.
  2. Priests, ship captains, company leaders, gang leaders, church leadership, people who have become famous on the local level, etc. These people are mostly lower management, organizing a squad of people put under their charge for a certain task. This also includes second-rank faction members. (Harper Harpshadows, Order of the Gauntlet Marcheons, Emerald Enclave Summerstriders, Lord's Alliance Redknives, and Zhentarim Wolves)
  3. Gentry and lesser nobility, nobles who exist for court and tax purposes but have no responsibilities, admirals, field commanders and knights, mob bosses, high priesthood, and people who have become famous on a national level. This also includes third-rank faction members. (Harper Brightcandles, Order of the Gauntlet Whitehawks, Emerald Enclave Autumnreavers, Lord's Alliance Stingblades, and Zhentarim Vipers)
  4. Landed nobility, religious leaders such as the pope or dalai lama, military leaders and generals, leaders of a criminal empire, and internationally famous individuals. This also includes fourth-rank faction members. (Harper Wise Owls, Order of the Gauntlet Vindicators, Emerald Enclave Winterstalkers, Lord's Alliance Wardukes, and Zhentarim Ardragons)
  5. Royalty of either kingdom or empire, prophets and massiahs, conquerors, heroes of legendary proportions, etc. This also includes fifth-rank faction members. (Harper High Harpers, Order of the Gauntlet Righteous Hands, Emerald Enclave Masters of the Wild, Lord's Alliance Lioncrowns, and Zhentarim Dread Lords)


Of course, all of this is assuming that the character has people available as resources, and the resources to sustain those people. It's pretty hard to just pull an army out of your rear end when you're lost at sea. Additionally, just because you 'can' command them does not necessarily mean you will be able to. You must have some means of giving orders or otherwise communicating with your people, they are not psychic. Additionally, you must sustain and care for them, they are not robots, and they will not simply blindly obey every last order no matter how suicidal. They may disagree with you, they may even be paid off by your enemies! However, under normal circumstances, if you can find them, treat them fairly, keep communication under control, and continue to fund them with necessary resources, (food, pay, etc.) They are your personal army.

Rather, manpower sets a hard limit to what your character can handle all at once. A nation may follow you as king, but if you can only keep 20 of 700 soldiers organized at a time, you are in big trouble unless you make sure those 20 people can all organize the rest of your forces better than you can.

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