With a new Ravenloft book coming out in the near future, I got to thinking about how it’s easier to do horror games if the PCs aren’t… well… as powerful as 5e characters are out of the gate. So this is a class and a couple of house rule ideas to start out with characters that have a much lower power rating than normal.

Rerolled Random Stats

When you make your character, roll 3d6 six times to generate ability scores, and arrange them as desired. Each time you level up, roll another six ability scores. You may choose to keep your original scores or replace all of them with the new set of scores. (Ability score bonuses, such as from race, ability score improvements/feats, etc. are reapplied after replacing your scores.)

When you generate hit points, roll instead of taking the default values (i.e., maximum at first level, average rounded up at subsequent levels). Instead of rolling a new die when you level, roll all hit dice you’re entitled to. If the adjusted total (including Constitution and other bonuses) is greater than your previous level’s total, use the new total. Otherwise retain the total from the previous level. Make this roll after adjusting ability scores and hit dice.

The Survivor

Most citizens never plan a life of adventure until it is thrust upon them. Without years of training in combat, magic, and stealth they have to pick up these lessons as they go.

As a survivor, you were destined for a simple role as one of the common folk, until greatness was thrust upon you and you have to do your best to learn what you can before you die.

Level Proficiency Bonus Features
1st +2 Proficiency (Skill)
2nd +2 Aspiration
3rd +2 Proficiency (Saving Throw)
4th +2 Ability Score Improvement
5th +3 Class Training

Class Features

As a survivor, you gain the following class features:

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d6 per survivor level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 6 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d6 (or 4) + you Constitution modifier per survivor level after 1st


The survivor gains no initial proficiencies except those provided by race and background (and from your Proficiency class feature, below). Survivors that start especially young might not even have the benefits of their background at the start of play.


You start with only the equipment provided by your background.


You gain proficiency in one skill of your choice. At 3rd level, you become proficient in one saving throw of your choice.

All choices should be ones available to the adventuring class you eventually plan to join.


At 2nd level, you choose an aspiration that indicates how your talents will develop as you take on the role of an adventurer. Choose Adept, Expert, or Warrior, each detailed at the end of the class description.

Ability Score Improvement

When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, and 16th level (if you retain this class that long), you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Class Training

By 5th level, you have finally reached the point that you can begin to develop the skills of the adventuring class you have been working toward.

If you have an extended downtime, you can simply transfer directly into the appropriate class at the same level, replacing any statistics with their upgraded versions. You do not gain any abilities or proficiencies from this process that you would not have gained leveling in the class normally.

If you must train “on the fly,” then slowly add abilities from the new class at a pace set by your DM until you are a fully functioning member of the new class.

This class does not gain any new features past 5th level, but can continue to level if it takes a very long period to fully acquire the new class.


The first step to becoming a true member of an adventuring class is picking up the rudiments of magic, warfare, or expertise.


Artificer, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Ranger, Paladin, Sorcerer, Warlock, or Wizard

You were likely always somewhat odd, either overly studious or thought of as somewhat touched. Strange things happened near you, but for some reason your magical powers did not begin to come under your control until forced to develop them.

Starting when you choose this aspiration at 2nd level, you gain the ability to cast spells. Use the spells known and spell slots per spell level of a Ranger. Choose the spellcasting ability and spell list of the class you intend to become (Artificer, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Ranger, Paladin, Sorcerer, Warlock, or Wizard).

If you intend to become a Ranger or Paladin, you gain proficiency in light armor and simple weapons. If you intend to become any other type of spellcaster, you gain two cantrips from that class’ list.


Artificer, Bard, Monk, Ranger, or Rogue

You have always been studious and clever, just waiting for an opportunity to blossom.

Your hit dice for this class increase to d8 (including the one from 1st level, causing you to recalculate hit points). You gain proficiency in simple weapons. You gain proficiency in the skill of your choice (from the list of the class you intend to pursue: Artificer, Bard, Monk, Ranger, or Rogue).

If you intend to become a Bard, Ranger, or Rogue, you gain proficiency in another skill of your choice (from the class’ list). If you intend to become an Artificer or Monk, you gain proficiency in the second saving throw common to your class.

If you intend to become a Ranger, you gain proficiency in simple weapons. Otherwise, you gain proficiency in one tool or instrument of your choice.


Barbarian, Fighter, Paladin, or Ranger

You were always stronger and tougher than others, and are finding that manifested in your combat ability now that you have had to fight to survive.

Your hit dice for this class increase to d10 (including the one from 1st level, causing you to recalculate hit points). You gain proficiency in simple weapons, light armor, and one martial weapon of your choice.