The King is Dead

Friday, March 13, 2015

Dungeons & Drunkards Part 3: Boozing it up in 5e

We will serve no wine before its time, and so it is with Dungeons & Drunkards, a long weekend-long celebration of everyone's favorite legal intoxicant. +Jens D. of the Disoriented Ranger+Charles Akins of Dyvers, +Stelios V. Perdios of The Word of Stelios, and I have joined forces in a pubcrawl through our blogs to talk about drinking in gaming and drinking while gaming. Jens led the way with a discussion of drinking rules in various editions of D&D, Charles continued with some eerie weird fiction,  and I feel compelled to add a bonus post suggesting some rules for the newest edition of the world's dungeons and dragoniest roleplaying game!

Have I ever mentioned that I’m TABC certified? Yes, I have in fact passed the course that allows me to legally serve alcohol in Texas.

I am a fan of alcohol and recreational drinking. That TABC certification means that I am also all too aware of the terrible cost that drunk driving and alcoholism can inflict on people. Therefore, I find myself torn when it comes to drinking rules in RPGs. One the one hand, I derive great pleasure from my expeditions to the Texas wine country; one the other, I don’t want to ignore the very real dangers of over-drinking. While I could write happy-go-lucky 5e drunkenness rules for my merry band of responsible adult players, I don’t want to release onto the internet anything that accidentally encourages binge drinking in the young and stupid.
As written, the 5e “exhaustion” condition easily replicates the actual, factual physical results of drinking too much. You start off slightly but noticeably impaired, then you get worse and worse, and finally you can actually kill yourself through alcohol poisoning. Unfortunately, exhaustion doesn’t bestow any of the psychological or physiological benefits that make consuming alcohol so damned fun. As someone with more than a little social anxiety, I know from experience that booze lowers inhibitions. Heck, my hand-to-eye coordination actually gets better after a couple of drinks (just like Dr. Johnny Fever) – right before it gets really, really bad.
So let’s try this:
Alcohol acts as an intoxicant at lower doses, but inflicts exhaustion if one overindulges. While it resembles a poison in some ways, it does not count as one for proficiency with the poisoner’s kit. Characters proficient in brewer’s supplies may create alcoholic beverages per the rules for crafting.

A creature may consume 2 alcoholic drinks before requiring a DC 15 Constitution poison save to avoid ill effects; one alcoholic drink is the equivalent of one pint of beer, one glass of wine, or one shot of hard liquor. Until a creature fails its saving throw, each alcoholic drink consumed bestows one of the following beneficial effects (choose or roll randomly):
  • +1d3 temporary hit points 
  • Advantage on a single saving throw against a mind-controlling spell or effect
  • Advantage on a single Charisma check
  • Advantage on a single Dexterity (Acrobatics or Stealth) check
  • Advantage on a single Strength check 
  • Advantage on a single Wisdom (Insight or Perception) check
These beneficial effects last until the creature fails a saving throw against alcohol consumption or until one hour has passed. Creatures may resume drinking after an hour has passed in order to regain these benefits, but the DC increases to 20 until they have taken a long rest.

Once a creature fails its Constitution saving throw, it is immediately subject to a level of exhaustion equal to the additional number of alcoholic drinks it has consumed (past the initial two, “safe” drinks) and all beneficial effects of alcohol consumption end. For example, a creature that fails its saving throw on its third drink immediately suffers the first level of exhaustion (disadvantage on ability checks) while one that fails on its fifth drink suffers the third level of exhaustion(disadvantage on ability checks, speed halved, and disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws). These levels of exhaustion are recovered as usual.


  1. After defeating the Redbrands in Phadalin, my players are probably going to have a celebration thrown in their honor tonight. These Boozing rules are sure to get some use!

  2. Nice set of side rules here. We use GM minor and major bonuses for things like this when we play It's a nice touch to have a random effect. I will have to integrate something like this because my players are always drinking both in and out of game.