Quote Originally Posted by lacco36 View Post
I love this.

Question: does it have any mechanics behind it?
Yes, though it's a bit limited since I run a d20 game. I'm trying to go through all the major D&D races with this sort of thing, but I think elves came out the most interesting.



Ancient and wise, the elves have lived longer than a human mind can comprehend. Through those years they have experienced all life has to offer, and survived through sorrows that would drive others mad. To survive, all elves learn to compartmentalize their past, choosing to live in the moment with what skills they are currently using. Purposely ignoring the details of their past along with the pain that comes with it.

But, when the need is dire, elves can call upon their centuries long history to use lost skills and hope that the tragedies that befell them do not come with them.

Grief Die

You start the game with a d4 Grief Die. This die grows and shrinks depending on the sorrows you see or remember through your gameplay. When a Grief Die increases or decreases the Die becomes one step larger or smaller (d4 to d6, d6 to d8, etc. reverse when decreasing). A Grief Die cannot get larger than a d12 or smaller than a d4.

Using a Grief Die

At any time, you can announce to your DM that you are using your Grief Die. You gain one of the following benefits:

-Roll your Grief Die and add the results to any Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma check.

-Gain proficiency in any one weapon, instrument, or tool for the next eight hours.

-Learn any non-secret language for the next eight hours.

After using any of these abilities roll a d20, if the result is within the range of your current Grief Die, you gain the Grief-Stricken condition for the next eight hours. Then, regardless of if you pass this check or not, increase your Grief Die by one step.

Once a Grief Die is used, you cannot use it again until you take a Long Rest.

Becoming Overwhelmed with Grief

If your Grief Die is at a d12, and would increase, you automatically gain the Grief-Stricken condition. Unlike other means of falling into grief, this condition will last until your Grief Die decreases to a d4.


While Grief-Stricken you cannot gain Advantage on any ability check, saving throw, or attack roll, nor can you gain any temporary bonuses to ability checks or saving throws such as through Bardic Inspiration or Guidance. The only exception is you can continue to use your Grief. While you are Grief-Stricken, your Grief Die is considered a d12. You gain an additional three uses of Grief Die before needing to refill them with a long rest.

Other Means of Increasing Grief

While the primary method of gaining Grief is through using the Grief Die, there are other traumatic events that can occur while will have the same effect. The following is a partial list of such events:

-You face some horrifying trauma, such as a near fatal wound that knocks you to 0, or being tortured.

-Losing a war or large battle, especially those that result in the loss of cities.

-Personal failure of a vitally important task, especially if people you cared for were trusting you with its success.

-The death of someone close to you, such as a friend or relative. Usually the death of a party member will count. Though the GM can determine not to increase your Grief if the party member was traveling with you for less than a few months or there was known antagonism between you.

-Betrayal of a close personal friend.

-The loss of a true love, through death, abduction, or separation.

-Losing a Bond.

-Having an Ideal proven false or warped.

-The return of a great enemy power from the past. Particularly one that was thought defeated, or abandoned their machinations on the world.

DM Note: There is a lot that a DM can do to make the elf's life miserable and have them constantly stuck in Grief. While there are certainly dramatic moments where a few such events may pile up, as a general rule, Grief cannot increase more than two steps per day. And increasing an elf's grief should be somewhat rare. An elf gaining Grief-Stricken a handful of times in a campaign is an interesting roleplay opportunity. An elf getting stuck in Grief for most the game is a bore, and you're a mean DM.

Decreasing Grief

It is all too common for an elf to become consumed by their Grief, becoming hollow shells of beings too depressed to act in any way. Others waste away, leave the world and join with their gods, and some pitiable elves commit violent suicide too wary to continue fighting against the Grief of Ages. Sadly, such actions often increase the Grief of all who knew them in life.

That said, many elves have learned to live with their Grief and counter-act the effects through various methods. But these methods are often only fleeting.

-Spending a weeks of downtime specifically in the goal to decrease your Grief. Nothing else may be accomplished in this time. Usually such downtime is spent either cavorting, drinking, and debauchery in an excessive exuberance for life or in quiet contemplation and meditation where they make piece with the fleeting nature of the world.

-Achieving some great victory against a persistent or powerful enemy.

-Accomplishing a long running personal goal. Something that took several months of dedicated work to achieve.

-Living through a rare life affirming event, such as a proclamation of true love, a marriage, or the birth of a relative.

-Beholding one of the great natural beauties for the first time in your life.

-Not using their Grief Die for an entire week.

Work with your GM to allow some of these outlets to occur through the course of play. Though do not abuse such mechanics. For the purposes of Grief, a player is only allowed one True Love at a time. One cannot celebrate the marriage to a true love every day of the week. Breaking up with one True Love would cause a level of Grief so you would only stagnate. But more importantly, thatís against the very nature of these very optional rules.