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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Troll in the Playground
     
    miinstrel's Avatar

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    Jul 2012
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    Default Drugs and other Substances [PEACH]

    This is hardly a new subject for D&D, and previous editions have tackled the topic of drug use and addiction with varying success. I have yet to see an easy to use and effective system for 5E and have a PC in my RL game with a drug problem so... I made one myself. PEACH!

    DM's Guild has a Narcotics supplement available on the subject. While a good starting point, I still find this system cumbersome to use in actual play... tracking days for different withdrawal symptoms, drug severity, tolerance points, etc. and the penalty is simply more damage. Hardly an interesting consequence. So here's my system keeping 5E's 'simplicity' focus in mind:

    Long Rest: At the end of each Long Rest, if your Addiction Level (AL) is 1 or higher, make a Wisdom saving throw with a DC of 10+1/AL. Success means you reduce your AL by 1 to a minimum of 0. Failure means you do not heal any exhaustion and instead gain 1 exhaustion level.
    If another character spends the entire long rest caring for you, you have advantage on this saving throw.
    If you spend 24 hours at rest you automatically reduce your AL by 1.

    Action: You take a drug and gain its Effect for 1 hour. Increase your Addiction Level by 2. You may ignore the effects of exhaustion gained through drug use until you finish your next Long Rest. Make a Constitution saving throw at the listed Drug DC+1/AL. Failure means you also suffer the Side Effect until the end of your next Short or Long Rest.

    DRUG NAME DRUG DC EFFECT SIDE EFFECT METHOD OF USE DESCRIPTION SCAVENGE DC* COST (GP)
    Stoneskin 13 Resistance to physical damage types Vulnerability to non-physical damage types Injected 25 1000
    Mask 8 Advantage on Charisma Checks Paranoia. All creatures are considered threatening. Must be 10+ feet away from any creature before taking other actions. Smoked 20 100
    Dragon Bane 12 Immune to Fear -2 AC Eaten 20 250
    Surge 12 Gain 1 spell slot at your highest level Incapacitated for 1 minute and take 3x Spell Slot Level psychic damage Eaten 20 250
    Goldleaf 10 +1 Bonus Action and +1 Reaction each round Disadvantage on attack rolls Snorted or Smoked 20 500
    Blink 8 Advantage on Intelligence Checks Disadvantage on Wisdom and Charisma Checks Snorted or Eaten 15 25
    Inkcaps 8 Gain 1xHD temporary HP Poisoned Eaten 15 25
    Web 10 +10 feet move speed Disadvantage on Wisdom Checks Snorted or Smoked From ettercap adrenal glands. When prepared becomes web-like crystalline strands. 15 25
    Glass 8 +1 Spell Save DC 25% chance of spell failure Injected From Shimmerweed plant. Grows in drier regions or higher elevations, usually near the base of large trees. 15 50
    Red EYe 10 Gain Darkvision out to 60 feet Disadvantage on Perception checks Smear paste on eyes 15 50
    Slurp 8 Advantage on Wisdom saving throws 1/2 healing received Dissolve under tongue or Smoked From Otyugh Bile 15 50
    The Purple Veil 10 Advantage on Perception Checks Frightened Smoked 15 100

    * To scavenge drugs requires two checks: First, a Survival Check to find the plant. Second, an Intelligence (Herbalism Kit) check to properly harvest the components. The DM has full discretion over whether a drug could reasonably be found in the current environment.

    *****

    Each drug has an immediate pro/con to use, some of which may be neutralized by certain player abilities which is fine. There's also the exhaustion mechanic on long rest providing simulation of the very real possibility of overdose/death over the course of a few days. And they'll have to make a minimum of 2 saves assuming they don't take a couple days to get it out of their system (which may come with its own penalties) with the 'automatic success' stipulation under 'Long Rest' above.

    The system itself is very simple and allows for expansion with additional substances, both natural and manufactured, leaving the door open for DMs to modify as fits their needs. The only additional tracking needed is a PC's Addiction Level.

    Appreciate your feedback on the DCs, costs, effects, and the system as a whole for balance. Please consider if you would actually use this as a player. It obviously needs to be enticing enough to draw people in.

    Thanks for the reviews :)
    Last edited by miinstrel; 2018-04-07 at 11:24 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Jan 2015

    Default Re: Drugs and other Substances [PEACH]

    I like the idea of an Addiction Level, and I like that the penalty for failing the relevant addiction checks is mounting exhaustion. I don't think I like the idea of 'temporarily ignoring' drug-related exhaustion while under the effects of a drug. One problem is that it means I need to track which of my exhaustion levels come from drugs and which come from ordinary adventuring. Another issue is that, as I understand it, the problem with addiction is that if you go without a drug for too long, you become increasingly unwell until you get your next fix, at which point all of your withdrawal-related symptoms are totally reset.

    Take coffee, for example. If I drink a thermos of strong black coffee on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I'll get addicted to the caffeine. If I then try to go without coffee for, say, all of Thursday and Friday, then I'll go into withdrawal. Starting on Friday evening, my symptoms will get worse by the hour. But If I have my usual thermos again on Saturday morning, and then skip the thermos on Sunday morning, I'm not going to be hit by redoubled agony -- it's not like my Saturday dose was 'putting off' some kind of horrible reckoning. By taking the coffee on Saturday, I actually did stop the process of withdrawal, and now that process would have to start all over again before I would feel any more ill effects.

    I'm not totally sure how to improve the mechanics of your system to address this issue. Possibly something like replacing "when you take this drug, you may ignore the effects of exhaustion due to drug use" with something like "if your addiction level is 3 or higher, you may heal one level of exhaustion." The drug really does fix your exhaustion problem...it's just that you are gradually building tolerance for the drug, so it's less likely to help you as you keep taking it?

    I'm just not in love with the idea of climbing up and up and up a hill of temporarily-suspended exhaustion that will come crashing down on my character as soon as I either can't find a supply of the drug or can't pass my steadily increasing Wisdom checks. There ought to be *some* drugs that characters can tolerate relatively well, and so as long as you have a reasonably regular supply and use the drug in moderation, the drug is mostly safe to use on a permanent basis. So far your system is only modeling the sorts of drugs that are destabilizing and unsafe.

    It might be worth tracking two new statistics: Addiction Level (AL) and Withdrawal Level (WL). When you take a drug, your AL goes up and your WL goes down toward zero. When you miss a dose of your drug, your AL goes down, and your WL goes up toward your AL. Your WL can never exceed your AL. Every 24 hours, you have to make a WIS or CON check for *each* point of WL you have, and on a failed check, you take a level of exhaustion. You can gain advantage on the checks by resting for the full 24 hours. You heal one level of exhaustion as normal if you take a long rest. That way withdrawal symptoms will slowly increase when you stop taking a drug, reach a maximum based on your addiction level, and then your withdrawal symptoms will slowly decrease back to zero as the drug washes out of your system. You can try to get some extra sleep while you cope with your withdrawal, and that will help some, but not necessarily prevent all of the ill effects.

    For example, if your AL is 5, and you miss a dose of the drug, now your AL is 4 and your WL is 1, so you have to make one check per day to avoid exhaustion. The next day, your AL is 3 and your WL is 2, so you have to make two checks per day to avoid taking up to two new levels of exhaustion. The third day, your AL is 2, so your WL gets capped at 2, so, again, you make two checks to avoid new levels of exhaustion. The fourth day, your AL is 1, so your WL gets capped at 1, so you only have to make one check to avoid exhaustion. By day 5, your AL and WL are 0, meaning that you've successfully quit the drug (for now).

    On a more nitpicky level, it's not clear whether you want AL to increase before or after taking a drug for purposes of side effects. E.g. if I am totally sober and then I take one dose of Stoneskin, is the DC to avoid side effects 13, or 13 + 2 = 15?

    Finally, I'm concerned about Surge and Goldleaf being overpowered in the hands of Munchkins. Surge gives you +1 spell level at your highest slot. But from 7th level onward, characters only have one spell slot at their highest level, and even effects that would normally help you regain some of your spell slots, like for Moon Druids and Wizard's Arcane Recovery, are explicitly limited to lower level spell slots. Giving characters two highest-level spell slots could in some cases come close to doubling their effective power. The disadvantage of being incapacitated for a minute and suffering 3 * Slot Level damage isn't very significant because you can get through those disadvantages first thing in the morning, before combat. At Level 11, if you're doubling a 6th level slot, you take 18 damage -- but if someone in your party casts Cure Wounds using a 3rd-level slot, you can expect to recover 3d8 + 4 = 17.5 damage...if, indeed, you even succumb to the effects at all. I would change this ability to give you an extra spell slot at your second-highest level. E.g., the Level 11 Wizard would get an extra 5th-level spell slot, not an extra 6th-level spell slot.

    Goldleaf gives you an extra bonus action *and* an extra reaction. I don't know how to exploit that, but I'm sure there's a way to do so. Nothing breaks the action economy quite that badly. All of the various abilities in the Player's Handbook are framed in terms of allowing you to do cool things *with* your bonus action or reaction, not *in addition to* your bonus action or reaction. I would change the wording so that each turn you can take an extra bonus action *or* an extra reaction.

    Finally, have you thought at all about what kinds of markets (if any) you would have for powerful drugs in a fantasy setting? You have gold prices listed for your various drugs. Does anyone manufacture this stuff for commercial resale? If so, why? E.g. why is there a stable market for 1000-gp magical drug doses, but not for uncommon magic items, which are typically in the 100-500 gp range?

    Alternatively, does anyone try to shut down this commerce, and, if so, how? By confiscating drugs? By killing drug dealers? Does the local society have enough of a food surplus to support large prisons where drug dealers are imprisoned? How does that affect drug prices / availability? Is a character who becomes dependent on a drug likely to be able to finish out an entire scenario while using a steady supply of the drug, or will the drug go stale / lose its potency / stop being sold in the nearby cities before the scenario is over, forcing the character to go through withdrawal in the middle of key plot events?

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Troll in the Playground
     
    miinstrel's Avatar

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    Default Re: Drugs and other Substances [PEACH]

    Comprehensive, thank you. I'll break down replies piece by piece.

    I don't think I like the idea of 'temporarily ignoring' drug-related exhaustion while under the effects of a drug. One problem is that it means I need to track which of my exhaustion levels come from drugs and which come from ordinary adventuring.
    Agreed. I originally wrote this as "You ignore penalties from any existing exhaustion levels" to avoid giving them the power to beat any exhaustion inducing effects/spells.
    Is this phrasing better?

    the problem with addiction is that if you go without a drug for too long, you become increasingly unwell until you get your next fix, at which point all of your withdrawal-related symptoms are totally reset.
    True, and I'm definitely a victim of your coffee example. I did consider this and opted for simplicity over a more "realistic" symptom method. The potentially mounting exhaustion simulates the increasing malaise from not getting a fix. And the more drugs you take (i.e. the higher your AL) the harder it is to fight that malaise.

    Symptom removal upon getting a fix is actually the entire reason I added the "ignore exhaustion levels" clause.

    So far your system is only modeling the sorts of drugs that are destabilizing and unsafe.
    That's a great point. This doesn't allow for less impactful drugs. I guess the most immediate way I would solve this is add an "AL" column to the table and each drug increases your AL by a different amount. "Safe" drugs by 0-1, harder drugs by 2-3?
    Though this would allow taking a "safe" drug to remove exhaustion gained by missing the WIS save of harder drugs as a bit of a loophole with the current system.

    When you miss a dose of your drug, your AL goes down, and your WL goes up toward your AL. Your WL can never exceed your AL.
    Doubles the tracking needed, but this is still a pretty simple way to manage the symptoms, and I like that it rises and falls like symptoms really would.

    Case study: AL 8.
    First missed day = AL 7 / WL 1. Save is failed = 1 exhaustion level.
    Second missed day = AL 6 / WL 2. 1 save is failed = 2 exhaustion levels.
    Third missed day = AL 5 / WL 3. 2 saves are failed = 4 exhaustion levels. You know the next day you're making 4 saves and if you fail 2 of them you're dead.

    Let's say I find a fix at this point. My AL increases by 2 up to 17.
    What happens to my WL?
    What happens to my exhaustion? Does it heal naturally? I.E. 1/LR meaning I have to wait 4 days for my exhaustion to disappear?
    What if someone has been on drugs for a LONG time and has an AL of like 30? Even with advantage on the saves from rest they're going to need help to get out of that mess.

    E.g. if I am totally sober and then I take one dose of Stoneskin, is the DC to avoid side effects 13, or 13 + 2 = 15?
    I intended the AL increase to happen before the save which is why I put that verbiage first in the Action description. So in this example the DC would be 15.
    Better way to phrase this?

    I'm concerned about Surge and Goldleaf being overpowered in the hands of Munchkins. Surge gives you +1 spell level at your highest slot. But from 7th level onward, characters only have one spell slot at their highest level, and even effects that would normally help you regain some of your spell slots, like for Moon Druids and Wizard's Arcane Recovery, are explicitly limited to lower level spell slots. Giving characters two highest-level spell slots could in some cases come close to doubling their effective power. The disadvantage of being incapacitated for a minute and suffering 3 * Slot Level damage isn't very significant because you can get through those disadvantages first thing in the morning, before combat. At Level 11, if you're doubling a 6th level slot, you take 18 damage -- but if someone in your party casts Cure Wounds using a 3rd-level slot, you can expect to recover 3d8 + 4 = 17.5 damage...if, indeed, you even succumb to the effects at all. I would change this ability to give you an extra spell slot at your second-highest level. E.g., the Level 11 Wizard would get an extra 5th-level spell slot, not an extra 6th-level spell slot.
    What if we just cap it to 5th lvl slots?
    Should the damage be increased to 4x spell level to be more significant?
    Also the slot only lasts for 1 hour, so it's not like you can just sit on it all day.

    Goldleaf gives you an extra bonus action *and* an extra reaction. I don't know how to exploit that, but I'm sure there's a way to do so. Nothing breaks the action economy quite that badly. All of the various abilities in the Player's Handbook are framed in terms of allowing you to do cool things *with* your bonus action or reaction, not *in addition to* your bonus action or reaction. I would change the wording so that each turn you can take an extra bonus action *or* an extra reaction.
    Noted. Good edit.

    Finally, have you thought at all about what kinds of markets (if any) you would have for powerful drugs in a fantasy setting? You have gold prices listed for your various drugs. Does anyone manufacture this stuff for commercial resale? If so, why? E.g. why is there a stable market for 1000-gp magical drug doses, but not for uncommon magic items, which are typically in the 100-500 gp range?
    I have not. The costing was honestly thrown together with vague corollary to spell casting services and "Sane Magical Item" equivalents for items. My thought was there are generally more mass market drugs available with less fantastical effects (your typical cocaine, heroine, etc.) while the things in this table are "special reserve" type drugs for the elite... a class of people that adventurers typically fall into.

    Alternatively, does anyone try to shut down this commerce, and, if so, how? By confiscating drugs? By killing drug dealers? Does the local society have enough of a food surplus to support large prisons where drug dealers are imprisoned? How does that affect drug prices / availability? Is a character who becomes dependent on a drug likely to be able to finish out an entire scenario while using a steady supply of the drug, or will the drug go stale / lose its potency / stop being sold in the nearby cities before the scenario is over, forcing the character to go through withdrawal in the middle of key plot events?
    For this campaign there's a rampant drug problem in the starting city, one that isn't necessarily lethal, just widespread (and partially protected by some city officials without giving too much away).
    Potency fading over X days is interesting, but ultimately something I think can be sacrificed in the interest of simplicity.
    Yes there are... events... in effect that will encourage withdrawal symptoms.

    Appreciate all the feedback, there are a few things that have been really helpful to think through from your post.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Jan 2015

    Default Re: Drugs and other Substances [PEACH]

    Comprehensive, thank you.
    My pleasure. You've got a really interesting idea here; your players are lucky to have you.

    Agreed. I originally wrote this as "You ignore penalties from any existing exhaustion levels" to avoid giving them the power to beat any exhaustion inducing effects/spells. Is this phrasing better?
    I still find this confusing. I'm sorry I can't suggest better language.

    I did consider this and opted for simplicity over a more "realistic" symptom method.
    That's a reasonable choice! Everyone has different tastes in the realism vs. simplicity trade-off.

    I guess the most immediate way I would solve this is add an "AL" column to the table and each drug increases your AL by a different amount. "Safe" drugs by 0-1, harder drugs by 2-3? Though this would allow taking a "safe" drug to remove exhaustion gained by missing the WIS save of harder drugs as a bit of a loophole with the current system.
    Perfect, yes, do this. If you don't want to allow people to stave off the itching jitters with a mere cigarette, maybe taking a drug lets you temporarily ignore AL levels of exhaustion? So, an AL 1 drug lets you ignore 1 level of exhaustion until it wears off. An AL 3 drug lets you ignore 3 levels of exhaustion until it wears off. [shrug]

    Let's say I find a fix at this point. My AL increases by 2 up to 7.
    What happens to my WL?
    What happens to my exhaustion? Does it heal naturally? I.E. 1/LR meaning I have to wait 4 days for my exhaustion to disappear?
    What if someone has been on drugs for a LONG time and has an AL of like 30? Even with advantage on the saves from rest they're going to need help to get out of that mess.
    I think when you take your preferred drug your WL immediately drops to 0. And that partially answers your last question, i.e., if you jack up your AL all the way to 30, you can't quit cold turkey; you have to gradually wean yourself from the drug by skipping a few days, then taking a dose, then skipping a few more days, then taking a dose, wrestling with withdrawal symptoms all the while.

    My vision was that taking drugs doesn't necessarily prevent you from resting at night. So you can still remove 1 level of exhaustion by sleeping for 8 hours, even when you're in withdrawal, but you might be gaining more than 1 level of exhaustion per 24 hours depending on how many checks you have to make. Quitting cold turkey from an AL of 7 is extremely unlikely to kill you as long as you sleep at night. Quitting cold turkey from an AL of 30 is extremely likely to kill you no matter how much you sleep.

    What if we just cap it to 5th lvl slots?
    Should the damage be increased to 4x spell level to be more significant?
    Also the slot only lasts for 1 hour, so it's not like you can just sit on it all day.
    Ah, I missed the bit about the slot only lasting 1 hour. That balances the ability somewhat. I think capping at 5th-level and increasing damage to 4 x level will result in a reasonably balanced power.

    Yes there are... events... in effect that will encourage withdrawal symptoms.
    Heh. Fair enough. I won't ask any more; wouldn't want to spoil your campaign. Have fun!

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