I'm going to DM a D&D 5e hexcrawl Westmarch-style, and for story-wise reasons the worst danger the players will have to face is Amnesia.

Each character will have a 7th ability score called Memory as per the variant Honor/Sanity rule in the DMG, equal to 3d6 + their highest modifier between Int, Wis, or Cha.

This score will reduce over time for each day of travel, and can only be recovered by resting in certain checkpoints (for example their starting outpost).

Now, i did my research, and the options I thought to represent what happens when you lose Memory are:

  • They start losing Int/Wis/Cha at the rate of 1 point/hour, and once they reach 0 they're lost until someone finds them again.

PRO is easier for me to manage
CON it sounds too much videogame-ish and doesn't translate well in role-playing terms.

  • They start suffering level drain effects at the rate of 1 level/hour, and same as above, but this time no way to recover the character.

PRO easy to manage, I don't remember where I found the rule about level drain but it just says to give characters -1 to hps and every roll until they recover those levels
CON same problems, moreover I don't like the fact that it also affects physical characteristics as Constitution, something that isn't quite "forgettable".

  • I mess up the notes they've taken, and the map they've drawn, during the current exploration (as per the spell Modify Memory).

PRO The most interesting option from the roleplay perspective
CON Why their memory loss would affect physical records? And even if it did, my tampering would be easily identifiable.

  • I lie and give them false information about where and when they have been.

PRO Would be easy to spot the misdirections by using their notes, and avoid a TPK
CON Would be easy to spot the misdirections by using their notes, and avoid a TPK.

  • I write off something off their character sheet each time they completely lose memory.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Now, if I just wanted something they could roleplay I wouldn't have asked, but since it's an hexcrawl and exploration mechanics is something with a great weight, I need something that has a mechanical impact too.

Still, these options do not seem to me to fit what I need, what will solve my problem in terms of applying the memory stat in a 5e friendly method?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Mar 2 '20 at 18:42