House Rules for Nimble 5e

Posted: 2023-12-22
Last Modified: 2024-02-21
Word Count: 2211
Tags: d20 dnd5e nimble5e rpg

Table of Contents

Nimble contains modifications to Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition rules to simplify and streamline play. Alas, a 32-page booklet or even a Web-based FAQ cannot account for every rule in the 300+ page Player’s Handbook, let alone Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, and other non-SRD content.

While the Discord server and eventually the Web site hosts a FAQ for some of the corner cases and non-SRD content not in the book, even those sources do not cover all cases.

Thus I’ve put together my own house rules for using Nimble in my games. Note these are my interpretations of the Nimble rules, after discussions on the Nimble Discord server with author Evan Diaz and others, plus some house-ruling in the grand tradition of D&D DMs everywhere and everywhen. I have also included some experimental rules that I just thought would be a good idea.

Special thanks to Evan Diaz, @supersarah, Caleb (@carcabob), and others I’ve probably forgotten.

Character Creation

These rules supplement or modify the Character Creation rules given on page 21 and the altered feats and abilities on pages 17 and 18.1

In general all class and race abilities are the same as in standard 5e, except as noted on pp. 17-18 of Nimble, in the FAQ, or the rules below. When in doubt, just ask.

Racial Ability Bonuses

Nimble p. 21 states:

Ability Scores. Choose a stat array for your main ability scores, then allocate 3 additional points (in at least 2 different abilities) reflecting your background …

Non-Humans use these rules as written.

Standard Humans add +1 to all ability scores. This makes Humans a more attractive choice as a player character compared to the non-human races and their various special abilities.

Variant Humans are only available if the campaign uses the optional Feat rules. (I usually don’t.) They use the Nimble ability scores as written and gain two extra skill points and a starting Feat (PHB p. 31).

Racial Skill Proficiencies

Nimble p. 17 states:

Racial proficiencies or abilities that grant extra skill bonuses give +1 Skill Point instead.

The rules below expand upon this single sentence.

(Initial list compiled by @supersarah, expanded and annotated by me.)

Races not listed here have no extra proficiencies.

Background and Class Skill Proficiencies

Quoting Nimble p. 21:

Skills: Proficiency bonuses are no longer added to skills. Instead you can allocate 6 points (in addition to the bonuses granted by your ability score modifiers) into at least 3 different skills.

Rogues also get the Expertise ability, redefined on p. 17, and Bards get the Jack of All Trades ability, redefined on p. 17.

These are all the skill points backgrounds, classes, and subclasses get at Level 1.

Certain subclasses gain skill points at higher levels:

Background Abilities

Derive skills and attributes according to Nimble, but you get the special ability of the Background you choose, e.g. the Acolyte’s “Shelter of the Faithful”.

Hit Points

Instead of rolling Hit Points according to the procedure2 in Nimble p. 24, players may take “average” hit points according to the following table.

Level d6 d8 d10 d12
1 10 14 17 20
2 15 20 24 29
3 19 25 31 37
4 24 31 39 46
5 28 37 46 54
6 33 43 53 63
7 37 49 60 71
8 42 54 67 80
9 46 60 74 88
10 51 66 82 97
11 55 72 89 105
12 60 78 96 114
13 64 85 103 122
14 69 89 110 131
15 73 95 117 139
16 78 101 124 148
17 82 107 132 156
18 86 113 139 165
19 91 118 146 173
20 95 124 153 182
average/die 4.47 5.81 7.15 8.49

Average/die indicates the average result when rolling with Advantage.

Equipment

Nimble’s equipment budget for starting characters is fairly stingy. If you’re generating a more experienced character, go ahead and start with the standard equipment listed under your Class and Background. Or whatever else strikes your fancy. I’d set a budget of at least 3d6 x level x 10 gp. As long as the character can physically carry the equipment, buy what you need.

Armor

For convenience, I’ve worked out the Nimble “AC Bonus” for all armor in the PHB.3

I’m inclined to rename AC Bonus something else for clarity, e.g. Armor Points or Damage Reduction. Unfortunately I can’t think of a good name.

Armor Cost (gp) AC Bonus Min Strength Stealth Wt. (lb)
No Armor
– Unarmored 2 + Dex Mod
Light Armor
– Padded 5 3 + Dex Mod Disadvantage 8
– Leather 10 3 + Dex Mod 10
– Studded leather 45 4 + Dex Mod 13
Medium Armor
– Hide 10 4 + Dex Mod (max 2) 12
– Chain shirt 50 5 + Dex Mod (max 2) 20
– Scale mail 50 6 + Dex Mod (max 2) Disadvantage 45
– Breastplate 400 6 + Dex Mod (max 2) 20
– Half plate 750 7 + Dex Mod (max 2) Disadvantage 40
Heavy Armor
– Ring mail 30 6 Disadvantage 40
– Chain mail 75 8 13 Disadvantage 55
– Splint 200 9 15 Disadvantage 60
– Plate 1500 10 15 Disadvantage 65
Shield
– Shield 10 +2 6

Adventuring

Mana

The Mana rules replace spell slots. See Nimble page 14 for more information.

Artificers

Artificers use Nimble’s mana rules, and count as half-casters.

Regaining Mana

Some classes have ways of regaining spell slots beyond a Long Rest. These recover the equivalent in Mana. For example:

On a long adventure in hostile territory, with no opportunity for a proper Long Rest, Bards and half-casters may run out of Mana. Therefore I offer the following experimental house rules:

Again these rules are Experimental, and likely to be rescinded if it makes spellcasters too powerful.

Warlocks

Warlocks use Spell Slots and other systems in the rules as written. They do not count as “half-casters” under Nimble rules.

Non-Lethal Damage

Non-Lethal Damage works just like Lethal Damage under the Nimble rules.4 That includes bringing HP to 0 and inducing levels of Exhaustion … and the Dying condition.

However, Non-Lethal Damage cannot kill a character under any circumstances. If Non-Lethal damage would kill a character, it gives them the Unconscious condition instead.

Other House Rules

House Rules I developed for regular D&D 5e games may be in effect. Candidate rules include:

All the rest are either derived from Nimble or irrelevant to a Nimble game (e.g. “Races”).

Monsters

See also Nimble Monsters.

Monster Armor

The Nimble booklet states, under Monster Armor:

Unlike PCs, monster armor is simplified into three groups:

(0–13 AC) Light armor takes damage as usual: damage dice + ability modifier.

(14–17 AC) Medium armor takes damage ONLY from the dice, ignoring ALL damage modifiers (e.g., STR/DEX bonuses, agonizing blast, etc.) unless they are negative.

(18+ AC) Heavy armor takes half damage from all sources (rounded up).

That can lead to some pathological outcomes wherein Medium armor takes less damage than Heavy. Therefore I’m going to modify that rule to say Medium (monster) armor reduces damage to the higher of the total on the dice and the damage modifiers.

Also, since Medium armor is a little more complicated, I might demote AC 13 foes to Light armor and promote AC 17 foes to Heavy armor, depending on whether they’re flunkies or that encounter’s boss.

Adopting Some of Nimble

While Nimble calls itself a toolkit, certain rules imply (→) certain other rules. For example:

The following sections seem to have no dependencies:


  1. The full Nimble rules remove Constitution as an ability score, combine skills, and replace skill proficiencies with skill points. This requires new rules for character creation. ↩︎

  2. Nimble removed the Con ability, but rolls all hit dice with Advantage and adds the maximum on a die at first level. ↩︎

  3. In Nimble, when a player takes the Block/Dodge action (Nimble p. 7), armor reduces damage by an amount equal to (AC - 8). Since Nimble removes the to-hit roll and simply rolls damage, armor would otherwise have no effect. See page 3-4 for how Nimble attacks work. ↩︎

  4. Nimble replaces Death Saves with levels of Exhaustion, which also under Nimble rules restrict actions and impose a cumulative -1 on all dice rolls. See pages 9 and 10 of Nimble↩︎

  5. There’s a weak dependency on the Action Point system, but one can reinterpret it to say one can only Move or take an Action or a Reaction but no more than one. ↩︎

  6. The Dying rules are more complex without the new definition of Exhaustion. However, the rules-as-written Exhaustion would probably work. ↩︎