Integrating Codex into other systems: An ongoing process

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    I will keep updating this post with my experiences as a GM regarding integrating elements of the Codex into different systems I currently run regularly (namely DnD 5e and M├Ârk Borg)

    Why am I doing this?
    1) Because I love the toolbox idea of Codex and I like to make things hard for myself.
    2) I think that the Codec as a system is an invaluable innovative system for storytelling combat and facilitating actions that are otherwise lost in the process.
    3) I want to test the compatibility and adaptability of the game with other games.
    4) My ultimate goal is to pull the old bait and switch in an ongoing campaign. I have tried it before going from AD&D to 3rd or from 3.5 to 4 in long term campaigns. Having a setting that really fits with the playstyle suggested in Codex will hopefully allow me to slowly ease players into it until all they want is more Codex feats.

    Where are we now with my playing group:
    Having just finished a large story arc I told my group (three players: Barbarian, Tavern Brawler, Sorceress) that I will incorporate elements of Codex in the game aiming for it to become the dominant system in the long run for the next arc. The most important thing was that players trust my process and I promised that if it turns into a negative experience for any of them I am happy to revert back into standard 5e (with the addition of simple codified rules I have added for depth).

    For two sessions we simply tested weapons rules. We started with the two melee characters converting into more “Codex”, choosing feats etc. We decided not to convert the spellcaster yet. The first session where we started incorporating the core of the Codex rules was a harmless tutorial: some brawling some downtime in a friendly environment (longest time that the Barbarian did not rage/and or kill something). To learn the rules and to see how they fair in an asymmetrical encounter of a more DnD-esque nature I designed a compartmentalized encounter with a a coven of hags. The sorceress isolated a hag and they had their magic fight, which fun and all but irrelevant to Codex, and the other two with the addition of a warrior PC dealt with the other two. I had already asked the players to read rules and form a few potential courses of action beforehand, an element that I believe it is essential for groups to maximize potential. Now my observations from this fight:
    – The use of melee rules, even as a framework made the player’s roleplay combat better, they wanted to describe how they move, how they shift their weapons etc. Mind you that of my players ironically only the sorceress is a martial arts practitioner.
    – They instantly started exploiting the situation in a clever way. They instantly felt that they had to collaborate to gain advantage and facilitate the tactics of each other even more than usually. I do not expect that every party or that all players will do this, I am lucky to have some good ones, but some rules really guide you to collaborate in order to maximize impact.
    – The brawler ringen-ed the shit out of one of the hags.
    – Best moment came when the fighter went in a bind with the hag’s claws and he used fuhlen to win it.
    – KEY POINT: The only noticeable imbalance is that even stronger foes need some martial feats to upgrade them otherwise aspects of combat might get significantly easier.
    – Players really benefit from precisely knowing the rules of their comrades. Not in a vague manner. What made a huge difference in that last encounter was that the players had actually chatted beforehand about rules and abilities. This generated some awesome synergies without seeing magic anywhere.

    Things to do: We will start using Superno extensively from next session, I already have given a weird low magic, occulty undertone to the campaign so I reckon it will be easy thematically but challenging to balance it out. We have a two-week break during which I need to make more alchemies on how to shift more into Codex. My plan is every other session to be introducing an element via sneaky tutorial encounters.

    Overall, I think that 5e is a really easy gateway to Codex. Frankly it is such a simple system (5e) that it is easy to spice it up with different elements and then push more to that direction. If you have comments, recommendations, I would love to hear your thoughts.

    I’ll keep posting my scattered thoughts about my attempt to integrate a martial playstyle into DnD.

    PS. Next week I am running a two-shot for Mork Borg and I intend to give access to the weapons from Codex. This will most likely make a super-lethal game even worse, so I reckon they will fit right in.

    Hans Hellinger

    Great writeup Human Tyrant! Feel free to post about the Mork Borg game too if you feel like it, I am a big fan of that game.

    Definitely agree regarding villains needing a few Martial Feats. Some GMs have complained that it can become a bit more of a workload for them keeping track of it all, so one needs to strike a balance. A partly working together efficiently definitely becomes extraordinarily lethal.


    I am, along with a number of other folks, using Codex sourcebooks to inform our Mythras gaming. Mythras is a d100 ruleset based on Runequest (it’s basically Runequest 6th Ed). Several of us are rather into the 1400s-1600s and the Baltic sourcebooks align with that era as well as a Mythras book called Mythic Constantinople (which covers the period of the Conquest).

    Hans Hellinger

    Hi Kosmaz!

    This looks really interesting. Definitely fits with the Baltic setting, it’s just a bit to the South! It would kind of fit with some of our ‘Monsterberg’ series of modules which take place shortly after the fall of Constantinople.

    This books looks great, I’m tempted to get it now…–TDM230

    Would love to learn more about your campaign.


    To be honest I’m probably going to try to convert Road to Monsterburg…

    Hans Hellinger

    That would be very interesting. Would love to hear about that on here too.

    Hopefully one day we will get down toward the Byzantine area. There is a little scenario in Crimea that I found fascinating. A Jewish guy from Genoa who became allied with a remnant population of Goths who were living in an enclave down there. After the Turks took Caffa they had to try to figure out a way to get to safety, they wrote letters to the Grand Duke of Muscovy and the King of Poland. Apparently they all left but nobody is sure what happened to them, if they were killed by the Tartars or maybe made it to Russia, or possibly joined with the Crimean horde.

    Some links

    This is the family, I based one of the pre-generated characters in Road to Monsterberg on this (Ghisolfi) family


    A few years back I tried running the introductory adventure in the back of Zweihander (a WFRP 2nd ed Retro Clone) but instead of using Orcs as the baddies, I used Tatars led and magickally dominated by a female Taltos (Magyar shaman) and her daughter. I also put the party on a keelboat heading down the Danube to settle land on the frontier. Only it’s just after Mohacs, and nobody quite understands the ramifications of that disaster yet or quite understand that there’s no real authority between Buda or Belgrade. Got through a couple sessions before half the party dropped out.

    You’re already in Silesia.. where next? The lands of the Bohemian Crown proper? Prague the Golden? Cracovia? Once you get to the Tatras you’re practically in Transcarpathia…

    Hans Hellinger

    Hahah that sounds like a great campaign, I’m surprised the party dropped out. I have had some trouble with certain groups doing historical stuff. I thought this was mainly an American problem but maybe not. Once we had Jake Norwood (the inventor of Riddle of Steel) in town and I took him to visit some friends who had an active gaming group (I did not at the time) and they were pretty sour about having to contend with a few Polish and German names or words. I was amazed! I was telling them, “You are fine with “Drizzt Do’Urden” and “Qhorin Halfhand” and “Aragorn” etc. etc. but somehow “Leszek the Black” throws you for a loop?

    My takeaway was you definitely need the right group for an historical game.

    As for what is next? I have another one to do in the Monsterberg series which will focus on Western Silesia, Wroclaw / Breslau and the nearby ‘Giant Mountains’, and a large dungeon crawl in the Nibelungen lair.

    After that I am not sure yet. At one point i was entertaining doing short adventures in all kinds of settings – from Neolithic to Classical to golden age of piracy etc. But the amount of research and work we had to do for the Scottish module (Reiver’s Lament) however gave me pause. It took much longer (like three times) than the Monsterberg ones. And I am also not sure how much people want to play a game with pre-gen characters.

    So I may just stick to more in what I have a lot of available data for, i.e. Central and Northern Europe. And we also have character generation for that zone now. I am tempted by the Balkans, Byzantium, Black Sea etc. but I’d have to do more research for that. Similar to Italy. I’d love to go there but I need to learn more. Renaissance Italy is an immensely complicated context.

    So for now, on the next adventure, I might do North Sea / Baltic pirates, maybe centered on Gotland. I might adapt my old Baltic / Prussia campaign (which had some long river boat rides and battles on the Vistula), I might do one in Livonia or Lithuania, or maybe down in Alsace near the Swiss border.

    At the moment I’m working on a very short (~ 10 page) adventure set in Franconia, as a ‘first look” mini-module for Players Guide and the Quick Start. The next major book is going to be a ‘monster manual’ with historical characters, archetypal figures (lancer / handgunner etc.) and mythological monsters.

    By the way I have Taltos in my character generation, in the computer program but I haven’t put it in the book yet. It is a sub-class / specialization for the Shaman.

    Hans Hellinger

    Bohemia and Prague is another good option, and I have substantial data for that area, but I feel I still need to learn more (and pick up a few more words of Czech so I can painstakingly read some primary source documents) before I go there.


    Go for Baltic pirates. You promise full-plate-armored pirates in Baltic Codex intro ! I sold the game to my players with that ! ­čśÇ

    Hans Hellinger

    Hahaha ok well yeah, I love them. The pirates and the privateers. Especially this guy

    and this guy


    Well if you do go down to the Balkans, let me know, I could recommend some excellent resources, including a couple folks who speak Serbian/Croatian that you might rely on for translating. There’s so much potential along the Ottoman frontier.

    Have you thought about republishing for other systems not D20?

    Hans Hellinger

    I’m always interested in working with helpful collaborators like that.

    I have been nudged toward a few things, but we have to look at whatever open license contract they have and how much work needs to be done. Did you have something in mind? Mythras?

    Generally right now we are moving into the direction of making Codex it’s own thing, loosely based on OSR-ish OGL. I like the twenty sided dice for use with the roll-many / keep one system. I think it gives you a wide range of probability and is pretty easy to handle.

    But that doesn’t mean other systems aren’t also interesting, I know many people have adapted Codex for many other systems.


    Mythras does have a gateway license but I am not well versed in such things. I do tend to prefer d100 games, generally.

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