I'm deriving this question from my recent question about Skyrim's Shouts for DnD3.x.

Is there an official or unofficial "add-on" system for DnD3.X (or Pathfinder) that introduces optional, extra powers that are equally available for any and all of the classes, and are, preferably, not skills or feats but "powers" that PCs can be given simply and leveled up in gradually for their being "chosen ones"?

An example of this would be, as I've mentioned in the opening paragraph, the PC's being a Dragonborn in Skyrim: No matter their "class" (I know, I know... I meant specialization or skill-set or whatever ;)), they differ from the rest of the world in that they have access, via their bloodline, to Shouts.


7 Answers 7


Is there an official or unofficial "add on" system for DnD3.x (or Pathfinder) that introduces optional, extra powers that are equally available for any and all of the classes, and are, preferably, not skills or feats but "powers" that PCs can be given simply and leveled up in gradually for their being "chosen ones"?

Feats. That's what feats are. Some are multi-levelled and allow you to take them multiple times, and some offer progression onto other feats.

The only thing feats are not is freely available to everyone equally. That's because they're not dragon shouts, and you're not just shouting - you're performing an exploit or ability that may require you to have some other quality, just like how being able to perform dragon shouts is exclusive to Dragons and Dragonborn.

They also often don't have as potent effects as shouts, but that's only because D&D and Skyrim had different design goals: whilst D&D felt free to shove all the powerful abilities into class-specific stuff, Skyrim's creators wanted to reserve some of it as shouts for all classes. Take a few spells and create feats which teach you them for no requirements other than the death of a dragon, and you've already recreated dragon shouts: Fus ro dah is a feat which teaches you a damageless Greater Shout with knockback, and the Verbal component is fus ro dah!

If you really object to the presence of requirements, just houserule that the only requirements on feats that count are requirements of other feats (or, optionally, to keep things making sense, race or class).


Please look at the D&D 4e Theme system as a model for this.

Themes are an optional choice at character creation that say something about your character which isn't covered by class/race; as such they are the perfect example of a class-independent power system.

Mechanically, a theme usually starts by providing at least a skill increase and the 4e equivalent of a spell, and then grants both automatic increases and additional options and powers as you level up.

Introducing a single customized Dragonborn theme full of Shout powers as a DM-approval-necessary option at character creation could do nicely for your needs.

Themes are originally described in the "Dark Sun Campaign Setting" 4e book.

[Alternately, the D&D 3.5 "Book of Exalted Deeds" has the Vow of Poverty model: a character option that opens up an entire new set of feat slots that can only be filled by a narrow set of customized feats as you level up.]

[Credit to @JonathanHobbs for advice/support/explaining Skyrim.]


Looks like a template to me.

For the non-null price of a level adjustment, a template offers various features that can evolve with level (example : Half-Celestial). They were designed for monsters, though, so the translation to PCs is documentedly awkward.


Pathfinder is just introducing the concept of Mythic levels. It is in beta right now, but that also means it is free to download currently. Its a parallel advancement to normal levels meaning you can start at level 1 and advance at a different pace from class levels and advancement is not XP based. See this link for the download and a longer description.


The Tome of Battle has the Martial Study feat which allows every character to get a martial power which is usable once per encounter.

These powers are tactically interesting in and of themselves and generally have a level dependent effect so they will grow with the character.

Limiting them to the players (and other chosen ones) will reflavour them as special abilities for only certain people.

If you want to bump their power up even more, you could give them extra feat slots which can only be used for Martial Study.


Not exactly an add-on, but there was the Force Skill/Power/Feat system for Jedi in the d20 Star Wars RPG. A number of the powers required the Force-Sensitive feat. If you wanted the powers to be more generally available, you could give everyone the feat for free at first level.

Also not an add-on, but there are a couple of d20-based superhero games. Mutants and Masterminds is the one that springs to mind, but I'm sure there are others. You could potentially 'borrow' powers from there, although integrating them outside their host system would require some work. There's an SRD here.

Lastly, there is the psionics system from d20 Traveller (T20). Been a long time since I looked at it, but I think it worked as an independant addon, much like the original Traveller psionics system.


I have a slightly off-the-wall suggestion: If you want a flexible general-purpose system to introduce more special abilities to a d20 game, you could buy a copy of Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Edition (3rd seems to have moved even further away from the d20 system; since 3rd came out there are many copies of 2nd floating around):


You could, with a little effort, adopt the book's Powers chapter for your game. Powers in M&M are bought with power points that M&M characters get normally. Introduce a new feat:

Unusual Power

You have a strange ability that sets you apart, even from other heroes.

Benefit: You receive 5 power points that you may spend on powers from the Powers chapter of Mutants & Masterminds. The GM must specially approve your use of this feat. The Power Level for purposes of power acquisition is equal to your character level.

Normal: Characters in Pathfinder do not normally receive power points.

Special: This feat can be taken multiple times.

Just be aware that you'll have to read the chapter beforehand and decide what you want your players to be permitted to take (your swords & sorcery fantasy game might be severely disrupted by a player with, for example, invulnerability to magic, or the ability to fly at 750 MPH for 16 hours a day).

Also, you'll need to convert some of the powers for d20 use; mostly this would mean converting damage from their wounds system to stock d20's hit points. I'd use the equipment chapter's weapons table for that. Other stuff works the same, such as initiative, ability checks, skill checks, saving throws, attack rolls, and armor class. What counts as Extraordinary, Supernatural, and Spell-Like, I think, would be self-evident, and that handles cases such as "does spell resistance apply?"

It'd be work, but once you were done, you'd really have something flexible and powerful. You can do anything with M&M powers.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "You can do anything with M&M powers." - especially since I believe there's a power that lets you replicate any other possible power. Or I could be misremembering the Magic power from the Saga Marvel Superheroes game. Either way, you do want to work out exactly what their powers can do. \$\endgroup\$
    – Simon Gill
    Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 19:15

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