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How to easily make d20 “gritty”?

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d20 is designed, in a meta-game sense, for the PCs to end up as deific beings with manga-comic super abilities. That is great fun except when you don’t want those beings to be possible. One might say that d20 is the wrong system however I say it’s an okay system that is like learning blues on guitar. It lets you jam with anyone.


Gritty is just code-word for “dangerous”, or the possibility that you can die quickly in combat: kind of like real life. So here’s some options:

1) Hit points max out as Str + Con + Base Fort Save

2) Critical strikes automatically inflict maximum damage

3) Death starts at –1 HP.

4) Heal spells aren’t instantaneous – they’re overnight; thereby forcing them to be combined with rest.

5) Any critical strike (regardless of if you use 2 above) requires a Fort save of DC 10 + damage inflicted, or the target is stunned for 1 round.


And one can go on.

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Jalpa, bird of burden

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A thick-set ostrich-like bird with a large blunt beak somewhat shaped like an axe head. They are strong and make good steeds. Feathers of the Jalpa are short and rust-coloured providing protection from sun and wind. Jalpa have an easy temperament and strong endurance. In the wilds of the Khob Odan, in the Mustang Territories,  they travel in herds feeding on plants, large insects and the odd lizard or slow rodent. When trained they make good riding mounts but are not good fighting mounts – for that get a Kilkine, the variety of Jalpa bred for war.

Height/weight: 7′-8′, 750-900lbs

Carrying capacity: 230lbs


d20: Combat, use light horse stats, replacing attacks with one beak attack, 1d6+1.

As a mount:

6.5mph, 50 miles/day

(to 230lb) 5mph, 40miles/day

(to 300lb) 3mph, 26 miles/day

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