I have recently become the DM of a group comprised mostly of newbies and one or two older players who aren’t accustomed to 5e’s rules yet. I decided that, for my first campaign, I wanted to keep leveling up simple and make sure the player’s power levels didn’t overtake the plot accidentally, so I told the players they’d be leveling up using milestones instead of XP from encounters. However I didn’t want to discourage combat either and it also seemed like a good idea to award the players with something for moments of good roleplaying, so I decided that, although the players would still be leveling up by milestones, I’d start working on a series of minor boons the players receive as part of the plot that’d act sort of like a perk system in a video game. Small, incremental, and useful (but mostly harmless) abilities they could spend their accumulated XP to obtain.
This seemed like a solid idea initially for the reasons I mentioned above, as well as the fact that my campaign setting, while far from “low magic”, takes place on a continent where unusually large regions of the untamed wilderness intersect with the Feywild, causing cultural attitudes towards magic to err towards practical caution and suspicion at best, and outright fear and hostility at worst. If I could limit the number of magic items I handed out to my players and still feel confident that the boon system would keep them from feeling cheated out of all their neat magic toys, it’d be a great way to integrate the setting’s attitudes towards magic and the relative scarcity of useful, non-cursed magical items into gameplay.
However, I was thinking about this some more the other day, and now I can’t decide if my original plan to limit the players to occasional small common/uncommon magical items with a rare to very rare cursed item once in a blue moon is actually all that fair. A friend not playing in the campaign told me that, in their opinion, most of the boons would quickly become useless at higher levels, which could make scarcity of magic items dangerous. Of course the party already has two spellcasters (sorcerer and cleric) as well as a ranger and a storm herald barbarian, so it’s not like anyone’s hurting for magic damage, but this is a problem I’d rather address before I implement this feature into my game rather than after.
Koschei the Magnificent’s Bountiful Bag of Magical Boons
So here’s the list of potential boons I’m planning on letting my players spend their earned XP on. While I haven’t come up with specific numbers yet, the general guideline I plan on following is that low-level boons will cost a few hundred XP, mid-level boons a few thousand, and high-level boons a few tens of thousands. There will be exceptions but that’ll do for now as an abstraction.
Gift of the Gab: Once per day, you may add 1d2 to any Persuasion checks or Charisma saving throws. This increases to 1d4, 1d6, and then 1d8 with each rank of this boon you take, to a maximum of four.
Gift of Farsight: Your visual acuity is permanently increased, giving you 20/10 vision and the ability to see objects from twice as far away. This doubles again at the second and third ranks of this boon you take, to a maximum of 20/2 and x8 magnification at third rank.
Gift of the Fish: Your lung capacity and swimming speed permanently increase, allowing you to swim with an extra 5 ft. of movement speed and hold your breath for an additional five minutes, increasing by an extra 5 ft. and 5 minutes with each rank of this boon, to a maximum of three.
Gift of False Life: Once per day, you may add 1d2 temporary hit points to your total health. These disappear after a short or long rest. This total increases to 1d4, 1d6, and then 1d8 with each rank of this boon you take, to a maximum of four.
Gift of the Sandman: You never oversleep or undersleep, you always wake up feeling refreshed after a long rest, and you have advantage on saving throws against all sleep, dream or nightmare-based spells. However you can no longer remember any of your dreams or nightmares upon waking.
Gift of the Magi: You are naturally attuned to the presence of magic and arcane energies. You can determine if an object is magical just by touching it, and if there is a hidden magical object or creature within 5 ft of you, you can discern its general location. You do not glean any knowledge of its origin, function, or school of magic. With additional ranks in this boon, you can increase the range at which you detect magic by an additional 5 ft. to a maximum of 15 ft. at the third rank.
Gift of the Sun: You glow like a candle at night and in dark places, shedding dim light in a 20 foot radius. You can turn this effect off at will but doing so requires Concentration. The intensity of the light increases to bright with the second rank of this boon, extending the radius at which you shed dim light to 40 feet.
Gift of the Firebrand: You become permanently fireproof against small and/or weak fires like candles, bonfires, fireplaces, and stoves (this includes your clothes and items), all non-magical fire damage you take is reduced by half, and you have advantage on saving throws against magical fire.
Gift of the Drunkard: You recover from alcohol or drug-induced inebriation twice as fast as other people would, and you become permanently immune to hangovers or withdrawal. This effect does not include poisons or overdoses, intentional or otherwise.
Gift of the Sharp-Dressed Man: Stains slide off your clothes like water off of stone, and any wrinkled clothes you put on immediately become pressed, ironed and immaculate. Physical damage to clothes will remain and cannot be repaired in this way, but while they are being worn, none of your clothes will fray.
Gift of the Ladykiller: Once per day you may add 1d2 to any Persuasion checks or Charisma saving throws against females of any age, which increases to 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10 and then 1d12 with each rank of this boon, to a maximum of six. If you use this boon and succeed, the person you are talking to also becomes sexually attracted to you.
Gift of the Maneater: Once per day you may add 1d2 to any Persuasion checks or Charisma saving throws against males of any age, which increases to 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, and then 1d12 with each rank of this boon, to a maximum of six. If you use this boon and succeed, the person you are talking to also becomes sexually attracted to you.
Gift of the Florist: You permanently smell faintly of roses and other flowers, negating or canceling-out any foul stenches within 5 feet of you. Insects may want to pollinate you.
Gift of the Forest: Herbivores and various small animals congregate around you whenever you walk through the forest or any area dense with plant and animal life. Hostile action will cause them to flee, but the effect will resume the next time you enter into a new forest.
Gift of the Spider: You gain the Wall-climbing ability, and can scale any vertical face so long as it is not completely smooth and angled at a perfect 90 degree incline. Normal climbing rules still apply, you just have a natural ability for finding a footing/handhold.
Gift of the Gourmet: You gain the instinctive knowledge of how to properly season, prepare, and cook food. Any dish you make is guaranteed to be delicious and filling regardless of whatever foul ingredients went into it.
Gift of the Gut: You become permanently immune to food poisoning and nausea and gain resistance against minor illnesses and disease such as colds and the flu. With the second rank of this boon, you gain advantage on saving throws against major diseases.
Gift of the Smith: Any sword or bladed weapon you hold will remain sharp no matter how many times you swing it, and the blade itself will not chip. This effect is permanent.
Gift of the Falcon: You permanently gain a +2 on any attack rolls you make while jumping or falling on top of an enemy from a greater height than where they are standing. This increases to a +4 and then a +6 with each additional rank of this boon, to a maximum of three.
Gift of the Scavenger: You find twice as much food from plants and dead animals upon a successful Survival check. This effect is permanent.
Gift of the Empath: Once per day, you may add 1d2 to any Insight checks or Charisma saving throws. This increases to 1d4, 1d6, and then 1d8 with each rank of this boon you take, to a maximum of four.
Gift of Intimidation: In moments of extreme duress, you can manifest an aura of intimidation that’s visible only to your enemies. Born from rage, bloodlust, or maybe even desperation, this aura forces all enemies who can see you to succeed on a DC12 Wisdom check or flee from you at max speed. With additional ranks, the DC required to pass increases to DC15 and DC18.
Gift of the Swindler: When buying or selling from shops or merchants, you obtain an addition 12% bonus gp for every item you sell, and get a 12% discount on any item you wish to buy. This increases to 25% and then 50% with further ranks in this boon, to a maximum of three. This effect does not apply to the whole party, only the one buying and selling.
Gift of the Glot: You magically learn one new language with each rank of this boon you take. There is no limit to how many ranks you may take, and the cost of each subsequent rank will not increase.
Gift of the Traveler: Your sense of direction is heightened, and you always know instinctively where you’ve been and how to get where you’re going. You no longer become lost when traveling through dungeons, forests, or other obfuscating environments. With the second rank in this perk, you are no longer slowed by difficult terrain.
Gift of the Contortionist: You can twist and contort your body into new and unusual shapes like a circus performer, and may find that you are able to access areas those with fewer joints cannot. With the second rank of this boon, you can dislocate your joints without pain or difficulty, and your bones can no longer be broken through mundane damage and accidents. At third rank, your entire skeleton becomes your plaything, and you can freely alter your physical shape to fit through gaps larger than the largest bone in your body.
Gift of the Craftsman: Your ability to craft items with tools you are proficient with is increased, allowing you to craft an item worth 10 gp in a day using materials worth half the total market value of the item you are crafting. If the item you want to craft is worth more than what you can make in a day, you progress in increments over multiple days. With each rank of this boon, the total worth of what you can make in a day increases by another 10 gp, to a maximum of five ranks.
Gift of Vizzini: You gain a resistance to poison, giving you +2 to saving throws against it. You gain an additional +2 to your poison resistance with each rank of this boon, to a maximum of five ranks (+10).
Gift of the Scribe: You have excellent memory, and can vividly recall any event that happened in the last week down to minor details. The limit of your memory increases to a month, half a year, a year, and then no limit with each subsequent rank of this boon, to a maximum of five ranks.
Gift of the Longstrider: Your movement speed permanently increases by 5 ft. with each rank of this boon you take, to a maximum of six ranks.
Can I effectively pitch these as substitutes for a lower drop rate of magical items? I would also appreciate any critiques you might have about the boons listed here and advice on how to price them, if you have any.