Aging Overhaul (3.5e Variant Rule)
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A subject barely touched in DnD: characters getting older (or younger with magic). Most campaigns will never see a character start as a young adult and die of old age unless there is liberal use of time skips. However, many campaigns will see an old veteran, a grizzled warrior, or an old wizard. The problem is that the rules for old age suck, not because they are abusable or counter-intuitive, but because of sloppy design. Handing out ability modifiers for no reason is bad for the game, especially for something as trivial as a character's age.
The aging effects chart is replaced with the following.
|Middle Aged||Experienced||Worn Out|
|Old||Experienced , Wise||Weakness, Worn Out|
|Venerable||A Life of Experience, Experienced, Wise||Fragile, Weakness, Worn Out|
Experienced (Ex): You had your share of experience. You gain a +2 bonus to one skill of your choice.
Worn Out (Ex): You are no longer as lively as you once were. You take a -2 penalty on fortitude saves against effects that would make you fatigued or exhausted.
Wise (Ex): While you are no longer as resilient as you once were, you had plenty of time to think about your actions and experience. You gain a +1 bonus on all intelligence-based skills and ability checks.
A Life of Experience (Ex): You have a whole life of experience behind you that grants you a +1 skill point per level (applied retroactively).
Fragile (Ex): Your old age has caused you to become less resilient. You gain one less hit point per level and take a -2 penalty on fortitude saves.
As you get older you replace your bonuses and penalties with the ones from the next age category on the chart (when is based on your race). However a character has 3 different ages, unless tampered with, all three ages are always equal (but really you cannot expect an adventurer not to tamper with something). Your bonuses and penalties are not determined by your overall (true) age but by both your mental and physical age.
True Age: Your true age is basically the number of years you lived since born. Your true age has no effect on your character, it is only there to serve as a measurement for the other two ages.
Physical Age: The Age of your body, it affects age penalty. As your physical age reaches the next age category you lose your previous penalty and gain the new age category's penalty.
Mental Age: The age of the mind, it affects age bonuses. As your mental age reaches the next age category you lose your previous bonus and gain the new age category's bonus.
|The Grim Reaper|
|In some games, the GM might want to limit the use of magic to save a character from close death. Eventually after the fifth use of greater restoration, the Grim Reaper will take note of you and make it more difficult for you to be cured. The next time you fail a save a limited wish will be required to save your life. If you fail a save again afterwords, the Grim Reaper will tighten its grip; the only spells capable of saving you will be a wish or a miracle.|
You no longer magically die at a random age, instead a venerable creature must make a fortitude save (DC 10 + half the number of years you are into the venerable age) at the end of each year. If the creature fails as many saves as her constitution modifier, she falls ill and will die within the year. A greater restoration spell remove the illness and saves the creature, but another failed fortitude save against venerable death will cause the illness to return.
A character that died of old age may be brought back from death at old age (although only with resurrection and true resurrection spells), although he or she is always one saving throw from dying again.
Notes: The DM may want to change the rate and progression of the fortitude save for long-living races such as elves. I recommend changing "years" to "decade" for long-lived race
Should an effect cause you to age significantly faster and you end up one or more age categories further than you were, you gain all penalties from your new age category, but you retain the bonuses of your prior age category. Your mental age remains equal to your true age.
Example: Max the Adventurer is middle aged, while fighting a Time Demon he gets aged to venerable. He loses worn out and gains fragile, but retains experienced as his mental age did not change.
More common are effects that cause you to get younger. It's effectively kickass, so you retain bonuses from your former age category but gain the penalties of your new age category. As far as this rule is concerned you cannot be rejuvenated beyond young adult. Your mental age remains equal to your true age.
Unless a number is specified, rejuvenation by one or more categories restores your physical age to halfway between the new category's starting age and the next category's starting age. (A human that was rejuvenated to a young adult's physical age would become 25 by example).
Example: Aneis the Evil Blood witch uses a blood ritual to make herself a young adult again. She was middle-aged, thus she loses worn out, but retains experienced as her mental age did not change.
You become younger in body and mind, a rare effect often caused by artifacts and magical places. You lose both your current age bonus and penalty and gain your new age category bonus and penalty. Your mental and physical age change to your new age.
Example: Old woman Alice is venerable, one day she gets lost in the forest and falls into a fountain. It happened she found the fountain of youth and became a young adult again, losing both fragile and A life of Experience and gaining nothing.