The A to Z of Dungeon Mastering

The A2ZSo Dungeon Master, be It for Dungeons and Dragons, 13th Age, Pathfinder or for that matter any Role Playing game (RPG). You want to take charge, be the creator of your own game and possibly your own world.

You have your Players (PCs). You have your Dice. You have your Ideas. This Is just a small part of what goes on behind and In front of the GM’s screen.

Take a look through my Short A to Z of Dungeon Mastering…

Continue reading

A Ruined City

Dungeons & Dragons Location.


Naples could be a fantasy location for your next Dungeons & Dragons game.
I recently came back from a few days in the Italian City of Naples. A thriving Port and hectic city with a mix of every culture.

The idea that a modern city could be transcribed directly into a game #RPG setting isn’t new of course but having now witnessed the city first hand It could make for an interesting location.

From a visual point of view the first thing that strikes you is the graffiti.

Do you remember the scene in the Monty Python film. The Life of Brian. The graffiti was forty feet tall. Well its worse here.
It is adorning every clear surface, building wall, window, sculptures and signs. But no attempt has been made to remove or control its spread also Litter is everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. Then the traffic. In this modern world it is cars but it is so easy to visualise horses and camels drawing wagons of fruits and vegetables. People pushing carts. Shouting, hawking their wares.

Begging has its place wherever you go. Here its on every street. The characters that you see could be straight out of a game #rpg from far-flung locations who have made it here via land or sea and now found themselves without anything. Visually they fit every stereotype.
That NPC that steps so close that you see every cracked tooth. The wayward hair that as a Game Master (GM) you do your best to describe.

Dogs wonder the streets freely. Polite sign-age ask you not to touch or feed these strays and in some cases wild roaming animals. At any moment a pack of dogs could be your next adversary. The one that tests that new steal you bought from that blind beggar.

Animal waste is something you need to be aware of unless you think it lucky. Then in that case you would be classed as very lucky in this city.
Smell can be a very useful tool in your next game. No not the real thing unless you have been unwell or eaten something that didn’t agree with you. The described smell like sounds can be a very useful addition to the mood and feel of your location in your game.

The city is in total disrepair. Decaying buildings are nearly all that greet you. Plaster falling from walls. frescoes and features left to fend for themselves. Pollution and neglect eat away at these once proud and elegant façades.
You would imagine that these buildings were anything but inhabitable yet they still have occupation and life within. Its like the fortitude of the buildings will alone keep the occupants safe. How could this building ever harm anyone.

People live on top of each other. Floor added to floor to the point you think it could not hold anymore but yet another floor is added.
Cracks now give the buildings a new face. An old and tired look. They seem sad. Unloved.

Washing hang from balconies trying to dry from the warm air that drifts through the narrow claustrophobic streets. Yet the buildings seem to try their best to keep warm but it’s just dripping tears of despair.
Yet hidden as if turning its face away from the outside world are hidden gems to delight the eye and fill you with awe.

The populous are forever oblivious to what is around them be it litter about their feet or the concerns of others going on about them.
It seems they put all their effort into their appearance. With quality of cloth and personal standards high on their agendas. Shops sell every kind of over the top quality of clothing. Anything that could in the end take away interest in the state of their city and place your interest squarely on them.
It’s like they say. “yes my city is shit but at least I look good so look at me”.
Everything about them just reinforces this self-image.

With all this activity going on there still seems a relaxed and sedated feel about the whole city. Shop owners relax outside their shops. Smoke, drink and laugh.

Markets are at the end of every ally way. Stalls of every kind will lay for all to see. Shouts and calls to buy from every direction.
Fresh fish, freshly caught that day and landed at the harbour.
Butchered right in front of you. Whatever your order they can fill it. Some squid and octopi and even shell-fish kept alive in water buckets so you can witness how fresh they are.
Raw and cooked meats and even offal is on display.

Be aware this is one of the many locations the city has to offer an opportunity to the pickpocket. He will be that nobody who just brushed past or a gang of thieves. Well oiled in the art of deception.
Bring this place to life with a thought for what seems minor can add even more colour to your vibrant game night..

Vegetables from far and near some you have never seen before and with some happy to never see again.

Then there is the prepared foods. Pizzas and pies. The smells are at times overwhelming yet totally enticing.
Don’t forget the drink. Coffees and teas. Beers and spirits. Yet if you take the invitation to sit will cost you just to sit. You will not find that out until you are presented with the bill.

This now brings me to the largest openly demonstrated gang. They act and seem like a gang. They run the city. This is only a perceived image but its a strong feeling.
The Police. They walk or drive the city. Hang out in groups. Talk and smoke together. Occasionally you will see them set off in a particular direction and all the peddlers and scally wags run and hide but nothing changes.
The city militia are the ever ready force to be there whenever they are not needed or called for. A bribe may see them fight on your side for once. Then again it may see you spend the night or two in a dank cell.

This city works. How it works seems a mystery. All the chaos fixes together like an ever-changing jigsaw puzzle.

A Dash of Colour

I took this upon myself to update a picture I did for a friend over on twitter ( @LandrasGembar ) It was a recreation of an Avatar character I did maybe over a year ago. The Influence was for Dungeons and Dragons and other roleplaying games.

here Is what i did.

Here is the original that I did and coloured in Inks .

It was nice to revisit This drawing and to make something new of it. I chose a closer view as this seemed to add a little more drama to the dwarf. I may try this again with an earlier drawing some time. It will appear here if I do.

Best Served Chilled

One Shot Art

If you have been here before you know that what I like to post is my Drawings that I do for people from around the World. Character drawings are what I enjoy doing. The #RPG that I love is my inspiration. So here are a few that I have drawn. For Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons next. Also one for Shadowrun


Malgor The Devourer. Dungeons & Dragons #4E Game

Here is what took place in the Dark Worlds of my Dungeons & Dragons game this February in Nottingham, at the 3rd #UKT3 D&D Tweetup. I Wanted there to be Role Play, roll play. Great friends fighting Foes with Blood and Glory. Here is their story.

The Heroes are ready for whatever life will throw at them. Continue reading

Army of One: Garrett The Amazing

Army of One: Garrett The Amazing

This entry into the Army of One contest was written by Simon Matthews. He can also be found on twitter under @symatt.
The warm yellow firelight reflected golden off the weak beer up onto Garrett’s neck. The soles of his damp boots steamed gently as they face the open fire. Smoke from countless pipes meandered about the shadow laden room. Maidens with dirty aprons and dirty hands negotiated bags, boots and reaching hands as they went about their business serving warm beer and pale meats. A mix of Local farmers, out of town traders, quiet solitary types and loud half naked warriors with weapons placed at their feet, yet always ready for a fight if the opportunity arose.  The stale taste of sweat and dirt is only just covered by garlic and smoke. The cacophony of voices is broken from time to time with a burst of laughter or cheer from some other table or corner.
Being a Halfling didn’t stop Garrett from mixing with every race and creed, he managed it so well. His clothes, of Noble make, well kept but showed their age, his boots had holes that had been repaired so many times that there wasn’t an original piece left. His hair was unkempt, dark and hung in his eyes but he thought it gave him a mysterious look. A sword, well he says it’s a sword, no more than a long dagger really lay in the side grove of the high back chair he managed to acquire when an aged local left to relieve himself. Leaning against the back of that chair was a shield, way to big for one so small but it seemed to attract light like a candle attracts moths. A pattern of wind tossed leaves carved into the metal gave the feeling of motion where there was none.
“There I was, standing alone on the south end side of the bridge of Vakcher”  Raising his voice one more level. “The entire city of Tyndall was behind me” garrett took a breath. “Women, children and the old stood trembling in fear, only I stood between them and certain death”  The halfling leaned forward to give more drama to his tail. Spilling beer on his leg which he failed to notice or just didn’t want others to notice. “The hordes of VAK stood before me with teeth gnashing and weapons bashing” He demonstrated this by bringing his small hand hard down onto the arm of the wooden chair and bearing his teeth. An audience of three had gathered about him now with a couple more peering over their shoulders. “what did you do, what did you do? A young adventurer of no more than twenty summers questioned, he sat against the hearth, an untouched drink in hand, questioning him again and again at every scene Garrett described. “Shut up will you I’m coming to that bit” the flash in Garrett’s eyes faded momentarily as the creative juices had been broken.  “Well as I said, I was standing……” garrett stopped looked at the lads goblet and looked back at the lad. “Are you drinking that?” Pointing a grubby finger with a broken nail at the young mans drink. “ can have it if you want” he passed it to Garrett, who then poured it into his own flagon.
The wood upon the fire crackled sending a delicate cinder spark drifting into the haze of smoke to then come to rest in Garrett’s drink with a soft fizzle. Garrett took several loud gulps of beer and then continued his Story. “The first wave of Vak charged, I held my ground. They clambered and clawed over each other on mass to get at me”.  He looked about, now more had leaned in to listen to his Amazing story. A hidden smile crossed his face. Once again the young fighter interrupted. “What’s a VAK?” Several of the Audience agreed and looked puzzled. “Well when you have travelled the many lands and worlds as I have then you may come across the vicious and deadly VAK, but I’d hope for your sakes you never do”. Garrett scanned the ever increasing crowd.  “Who will fill my cup so I can continue and maybe a little meat too”?
His cup and plate filled Garrett yet again started to retell his amazing adventure. “There I was, my trusty sword in one hand and my life protecting shield in the other”. “The Vak, reached me within several heartbeats and all I could do was keep my two horse span width of the bridge. They slammed into my shield skidding me backwards. I dug my heals in harder until I came to a stop.” Garrett took a bite of his remaining meat, chewing with mouth open and spitting pieces of food as he became more animated in his telling.

“I stabbed and slashed with my sword, Vak were dying with every stroke of my blade. My arms ached with the force of my blows and the strain it was taking to hold these evil monsters back from the innocent I was protecting”. Garrett’s breathing became faster as though he was living the moment again or was it the first time?
The tale continued, drawing more and more people about him, all enthralled in the heroics of this small but mighty Halfling. Garrett carried the story and his spectators farther into the spectacle that must have taken place upon that bridge so far from this small travellers inn.  “The Vak bodies lay about me” Garrett continued. “My feet, ankle deep in their green fetid blood. Took me days to clear the stench from the soles” he pointed at his boots, everyone looked at them and as if in a choir, Oooooed and aaahhhed in unison. “What about the Vak, surely there was to greater number for you alone”? A voice from the back shouted across the tables. A human of many years and by the looks of him many a battle. Clambered onto a table and again repeated what he had said, now to the whole room which lay in silence, looking at Garrett for an answer. Garret looked about him. Stumbled for words a couple of times then spoke clearly as if recalling a memory. “You are right to ask my friend for there was a horde of Vak. Even though I had killed more than I have fingers and toes there was still more beyond.” Garrett’s eyes wondered across the faces of the crowed. Sweat trickled down his brow like hot oil running from the skin of a roasting chicken. Had he faltered, had he been discovered? “yes I had to think fast.”  Now standing upon his chair and holding his hands outstretched, holding the attention of his audience. “I jumped backwards and landed a full ladders length away from the drooling Vak” Garrett touched his lower lip in thought. “I looked about and studied the bridge in total detail. It took but a thoughts moment and then I saw how to beat the Vak.” The whole crowd seemed to move to the edge of their seats even if they were not seated.  “There was a crack, only slight, but it ran the whole width of the marble white bridge.” Garrett waited, giving the tension time to increase. “The Vak charged again, I paused, I had to surprise them with my plan. The sound of so many Vak in one location was the sound of the underdark come alive upon this land. Hell itself was bearing down upon me. I drew my sword high above my head”. Garrett demonstrated by raising his sword from the chair and with a great leap. As great as this halfling could manage, landed hard on the inn floor striking the hearth. “My sword penetrated the marble bridge, like a mole beneath the dirt, moved from the point of my sword to the left and right of me, the crack crumbled and broke before the Vak, their side of the bridge became hidden in a cloud of dust and in their charge they could not stop and like a waterfall of evil flesh they tumbled and fell to their doom one after another until all was gone, down screaming to their end”.
The crowd cheered with excitement and clapped, several bought Garrett fresh drinks and coins clattered like heavy rain against the wooden floor. once again the hubbub in the Inn returned as patrons resumed their own stories and life tale. Not as dramatic and not as world shaking.
Garrett slumped back into his chair exhausted from the sheer drama of the whole evening. Wiped the sweat from his face with a maidens apron as she delivered a tray laden with drinks.
“Is that True?” The young warrior made his final question. Some hidden disappointment lay upon his face. “Is that True”?  Garrett leaned forward close to the young lads face, with a voice close to a whisper. “What do you think?” “For I am ….” And as if on cue the two together still in a whisper spoke with a smile upon their bright faces. “……..Garrett the Amazing”

A Dragon-Born Every Minute

When a Paladin fails to follow his Gods rule then his power is taken from him. In Dungeons & Dragons this can manifest In so many ways. Here is just one of them.

The Energy of any God Is given but can so easily be taken away. In your next  Dungeons and Dragons or any RPG for that matter,  make it more dramatic. Describe the moment . Make the player feel what his PC feels. Ok, Do not hit He/She with a bat that’s not what I meant and you know it.

This is one of my best drawings to date. what do you say ?

Dungeons & Dragons 3D Terrain

Well I couldn’t put It any simpler. I am running a Dungeons & Dragons #4E game on February the 4th In Nottingham, here In the UK.

Role-Players love the visual. If you can achieve that without props then that’s some great description but from time to time in any #RPG be it Star wars or Call of Cthulhu then show them something and it will make your life as a GM (Game Master) that much more fun for you and your players. So roll them dice and let’s get on with what i have created.

So I took It upon myself to try my hand again at 3D terrain for the game. so here Is what I’ve done.

Canyon Wall:

view here is just a plain block of polystyrene taken from and packed items I had received in the past and kept.

Texture is added with heat

Texture is added by using a heat source. I heated a paint scraper and applied that to the surface.

paint is added in stages

At this point I am now adding paint. I used acrylic. First cover the surface with a black as shown close to the camera. then a layer of, In this case a brown then brushed over lightly with a dry brush with beige.

Four stages anti-clockwise.

Here together are the Four block stages.

Here, a view down to the door at the end.

And finally a view to the door created with the same techniques. Well what do you think?


Bagguk & Colin

Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday’s Monster Mash #6 – January Contest Entry

Monday’s Monster Mash is a weekly series where monsters are selected from the three Monster Manuals and put together as an encounter group. A situation is discussed where these monsters would have been together and how their powers or status effects work together against the players.

This particular Monday’s Monster Mash, and the next few, will be a little different than normal. Today’s was written by Simon M for the January Contest: Monster Mash Mania. He can also be found on twitter under @symatt.
The Story
A shallow mist lay across the stone flagged floor of the long dark corridors. Moisture ran down the moss covered walls and old metal bracketed torches hung rusty and light less as if unused and unneeded for decades. The two companions stumbled on, not for the lack of light as both could see clearly from the glow of the luminous moss and their eyes preferred this half light.
“We’s be loss agin Bagguk? Exclaimed the larger of the two, in a rusty sounding voice. He coughed then continued, raising his voice above the noise of his metal morningstar dragging against the stone floor.
“We’s loss!”
Ignoring his plea Bagguk moved forward, his sharp pointed ears twitched, straining to hear past the chatter and clatter of the large fellow behind him. Bagguks large dark eyes pierced the gloom ahead. He was vigilant…but for what he wasn’t sure. He didn’t like surprises. He knew humans and their weapon wielding cohorts loved to skulk around ruins looking for anything they could steal from hard working Goblins.
Bagguk was one of those hard working Goblins and the many scars across his tight green skin proved it. Small in stature, no more than half a humans height, but hidden beneath his slight frame was the cunning and grace of a night Raven. His companion of sorts was Colin, he was a Grabutt or as said in the common tongue, A Bugbear. Thick dirty fur covered and protected his skin, his face was puppy dog like, but with huge teeth and tusks . He was loud and brutish. But as it turns out great to have as a friend. Great in a fight.
The two goblinoids had become separated from their clan a few moons ago when a vicious band of human friends had attacked unprovoked. During the fray an explosion had caused a ceiling to collapse separating them and now they are lost looking to return to their clan and safety.

Deep feeling of hunger rumbled in their bellies. Colin’s rumbled the loudest like a Colony of frogs had found a home in his large stomach. Colin was about to complain as he thought he hadn’t complained in a while and was about to start when Bagguk hushed him.
Colin murmured.
Bagguk made a gesture for Colin to stay put. Then leaping off ahead the small goblin was quickly out of sight and earshot. Colin stood in silence looking both ahead and behind just in case as Bagguks disappearance had put him on edge. His breathing now seemed way too loud.
Maybe it’s humans?
Thoughts of fresh food ran through his mind and made his stomach rumble again, even louder.
“yuz fid it had tu fulla intrukshun?”
A soft whispered voice close to Colin’s ear. In a flash Colin brought his morningstar hard down against the shadow that seemed to appear in front of him only to miss sending sparks and stone flying from the impact and an echo running off in all directions.
Bagguk was back and standing with hand on sword hilt and one foot resting on Colin’s morningstar head. All too casual for what Colin thougth was right.
“I’s fow’d sput ta ress, fulla mi”
Bagguk lead the way on down a slope and in to a large open space with high ceilings and old tables and chairs, decaying but in good order to sleep beneath. On the walls could just be seen the dirty colours of some old forgotten murals. Some rats lay dead upon a dust covered table with a few flying insects already inspecting them for egg laying location. The Bugbear needed no telling and raced for the food and ravenously devoured the meat, splashing himself and tables in warm sticky blood.
The two settled in a corner to sleep off their food.
Bagguk tried to keep one eye open but eventually both succumbed to restful sleep. Dreams of Humans in shinning metal suits and Elf Kin and their bows filled the goblins mind. Of he and his clan ripping their throats out and in celebration drinking their blood from Golden cups taken from human children. A smile climbed across Bagguks face and he twitched with joy several time.
“It’s alive!
Screamed an unknown voice in common but with a strange clear ring. Followed by many running steps getting louder in Bagguks ears. He woke with a start, the human fiends where real and here.
A swish sounded just by Bagguk and as if in slow motion he traced an arrow through the air, passed his sword arm, then a wet thud like cutting cabbage. Colin made a grunt as the arrow sunk deep into his back, ripping through fur and cutting a dirty leather harness which stayed on the cold floor as Colin stood, faster than expected given his injury and his massive bulk. His eyes flashed red as he drew his morningstar to bear at the enemies approach.
Bagguk had a short sword and dagger in hand and what seemed without a thought ran towards the human fiends that stood before them with death in their eyes.
The room lit up like the rising of the morning Sun, one human fiend stood towards the far wall and what looked to Bagguk, held a piece of the very same sun in his hands. The humans flowing robes billowed in a nonexistent wind and his golden yet ragged hair whipped and twirled. Then releasing it like a dove for the chase. The fierce sun raced towards the small goblin who at the very last moment placed a foot deftly on the corner of a broken chair and leapt over the fiery ball which then exploded sending splinters of wood and stone showering over Colin.
The Goblin landed lightly upon the table and ran head down, with dust kicked up from beneath his feet. A silent scream from a growling face.
Two more arrows shot past Bagguk. Fired from an Elf kin in green animal hide and a gold circlet about his head as if he was royalty. Standing next to the Elf kin was a human in shinning metal as if the brilliance of the fiery blast still shone upon him. He to raised a hefty mace above his head and spoke unholy words that the Goblin did not understand.
Bagguk ignored them and continued to run the full length of the table.
The clerics mace smashed with a mighty force on to the end off the table where the Goblin, ready to strike stood. The force was so strong it hurled Bagguk three giant strides backwards and smashing the table which shatters and splits completely in two, length ways. Dust and a noise like thunder filled the room.
Colin was instantly standing above Bagguk. With one heave, in one hand lifted him to his feet. The three human fiends prepared again. They saw their chance as the companions were busy helping each other.
The robe of the human fluttered against his arms and legs and again a glowing rod of energy materialised in front of him and flashed across the room striking Colin hard in the shoulder sending him spinning which in turn sent Bagguk sliding across the floor scattering wooden debris before him.
The robed human moved to a dark corner of the room. It made little difference as once again his hands began to glow. The Elf kin pulled two arrows to his bow and rested his leading foot on a broken chair for stability and the one in the metal suit.
Bagguk seemed to know this was going to be the end. A flash of light and Bagguk was forced from the ground, landing hard and with the smell of burnt flesh about him. His burnt flesh. He screamed, a throat curdling scream of excruciating pain. From where he lay he drew in all his strength and anger and threw his dagger. It took the magic one by surprise. It cut deep into his neck missing all cloths and hair. Sending him reeling into the wall where he then slipped to the floor clapping his hands to his throat with blood pouring through his fingers and tears in his eyes. Bagguk felt avenged but knew he needed to fight on.
Colin charged, covering the distance between himself and the Elf Kin but not before the Elf let his arrows fly. Both arrows struck home, one pierced so deep it passed through and out the other side, turning its flight feathers red. Colin brought all his might to bear so hard that the wooden stave on the Morningstar broke. The Elf Kins chest had become a blooded mess and he fell back to the floor with the huge goblin following through with the broken point of the wooden handle.
Bagguk saw what was coming as deftly the Elf Kin drew his sword in a slashing motion across the Goblins stomach then as he fell forward it penetrated his thick hide. Colin had no time to yell but the smell of split wood was in his nostrils and childhood memories filled his mind taking him to a point in his past where he was taught to kill. Kill human fiends. So still with enough life and strength he drove home the stave, deep into the Elf kins shoulder and so hard the stone flag beneath broke like a discarded millstone. Colin breathed deep then, breathed his last.
The weight of his corpse pinned the Elf down.
A fury now came over Bagguk. Ignoring his injuries he flipped his body to it’s feet. Snarled an animalistic snarl which spat blood and drool from his mouth. The metal-clad human hesitated, but looked to both his companions on the floor. Considering the outcome he held up a hand as if trying to say Stop to the goblin. The goblins eyes were as red and dark as an abyss. He took a slow step forward. Then another. The raw skin on his knuckle shone white with the pressure with which he gripped his sword. Again the Cleric pleaded but this time in stuttering common.
Bagguk faltered momentarily, then ran at the Cleric, sword and teeth brandished. The Cleric yelped, stepped back readying to take the blow.

The Goblin jumped placing one foot on the humans armoured leg then chest then shoulder and with a scream as from hell itself, bounded over the humans head landing with a roll on the other side. Disappearing down the long dark shallow mist covered stone flagged corridor, his bare feet making hardly a sound.
The Cleric took a deep breath and sighed loudly thanking whichever God had just saved him.

Damage is equal. Guest post by @GMCarlplus5

Here are the ideas of my brother concerning Role playing rules and especially mixing up and making full use of all editions of Dungeons & Dragons.

Again I’ve been thinking about remit for Dungeons & Dragons  #5e.        You need a combat mechanic that lets you use previous versions with little modifications and is quick and easy. I am throwing this in for comment:

Art By @symatt

Roll the attack against AC, touch or a fixed save like ref, fort or will+10. Damage is equal to the points you score over the target UP to the maximum of your weapon plus Strength bonus plus item bonuses. If an ally boosts your chance to hit, you chance for getting higher damage is automatically raised but still not above your maximum so no power creep. Every game since D&D 2nd Edition has had attack listed as ‘claw +3, 1D8+5’ so that is the monsters skill; +3 vs AC with a max damage of 13. GM’s can do that conversion in their head. No equipment needs changing (and can still be listed as dice so that the 5e books be used by people running 3e or 4e games).

Spells roll to hit against their normal save plus 10 and maximum damage is whatever maximum the spell could score, so a fireball from a low level mage would likely do less damage than one from a high level mage because the master mage is going to score higher on average.        Auto hit spells like magic missile are still rolled on the usual damage dice (d4s).        Sneak attack damage is the same; damage scored with your weapon plus a random d6 or two.

If you roll a natural twenty, damage is till calculated as normal but attacker gets to roll on a critical table. Crit tables are a different topic but I would have a table where you roll a d20 plus your level and item bonus of sword, wand or whatever. Certain magic items can give you the ability to reduce crits scored against you so that players have some defense against crippling crits but few monsters would except the BBGs.

I would make the attack skills similar to the current classifications, based on players buying feats, not skill points. Warrior feat makes weapon skills available to be used untrained but no bonuses. Mage feat makes spell skills available, Cleric feat makes divine skills available, Rogue, etc, etc. Trained feat gives you a plus to weapons or spells of that group (melee, simple ranged, healing domain, necromancy etc) of, say, +5. Focused gives you bonus to weapon or spell types (swords, spells with fire descriptor, etc) of perhaps +3. Specialised gives you a bonus to a particular weapon (short swords, fireballs). This feat tree makes it possible for one player to have skills in all groups but he is not going to be as good as a character who specializes in one or two areas.

The feat trees can be attached to classes if you still want classes or you can have a class-less game and players just buy into the feat trees that they want. I’d still keep leveling though, otherwise it isn’t going to feel like D&D but more like one of the ‘other’ games out there! Lol.

Of course wizards can’t buy skills in spells above their level yet so no first level casters casting fireballs, etc.

Starting characters CAN use weapons that they aren’t trained in but untrained penalty (-4?) will discourage that. A first level fighter COULD have an exotic weapon (say a repeating cross-bow) but he would need Warrior feat and Trained exotic (repeating crossbow) before his skill is any better than -4. He could take a regular crossbow and his Warrior feat would put him at +0, taking Trained simple ranged, would then put him at +5.

Art by @symatt

Wizards can cast any spells that they like and know but I would probable use either a spell point or a Vancian systems to prevent the wizard just plastering an area with fireballs until he is the only uncharred corpse on the battlefield. I quite like spell points (characters get points equal to the total levels of spells that they can cast per day) but from personal GMing experience I have known that to be abused. I allowed the wizard to regain 1 level per hour of activity so that the party didn’t have to keep stopping to let the wizard rest, with all levels being regained after 4 hours of meditation or 8 hours of sleep. Clerics, of course, have their god gift them with knowledge of all the suitable spells of their level so everything works as in previous editions too