Alternative Rules

Four representations of Blaze Reason showing different power levels for different stories. From left to right, we have a realistic picture that is only wearing a T-Shir and jeans (Only Humand), a version clad in cheap armor with a wooden shield and short sword (Merer Mortal), Blaze in his classical red faith armor with his sword Ishanekon in his hands and a holy shield (Normal ruleset), and finally a supercharged golden version with four angel wings (Epic heroes).

For some times of games and groups, the normal rules just do not cut it. Here you will find many options to help adjust IWS to your needs. Do not feel restricted by these alternative rules, however. Feel free to use any kind of homebrew rules that you like.

Cinematic Rules

Some groups do not want to get bogged down by rules that limit their imagination and the potential for storytelling. For those people, we have the cinematic ruleset. The cinematic ruleset is also extremely beginner-friendly and easy to improvise with.

This ruleset revolves around Cinematic actions and reactions. They replace other actions, Abilities, features, Archetypes, items, or Traits. Characters and creatures can only make Skill Checks and use Cinematic actions and reactions.

Cinematic actions and reactions do not cost any Narrative Momentum in this ruleset. The normal damage and healing for a Cinematic action should be 1d8 plus your Tier for single targets and 1d4 plus Tier for multi targets. More creative and risky actions should result in higher damage. The GM decides how much damage or healing they do.

Cinematic Stats

The bonuses that you gain from your Stats change. Strength no longer determines a character’s carry capacity since they no longer have a specific inventory. Instead, the Strength Bonus is added to your Vitality.

Dexterity no longer determines your base Evasion since the cinematic ruleset does not use any Evasion (or Armor, for that matter). Instead, your Dexterity is added to your Initiative.

Constitution continues to determine your base Vitality but no longer affects your Temporary Vitality.

Intelligence and Charisma still give the same advantages in form of Skill Points and Narrative Momentum.

Instinct is only added once to your Initiative instead of twice.

Will does not affect your WP because there is no more WP since there are no Abilities either. Will does, however, still determine your Temporary Vitality.

Cinematic Resources

You only have three Resources in the Cinematic ruleset. WP has been removed.

Vitality still works as before. However, the maximum Vitality now equals your Constitution Stat plus your Strength Bonus plus your Level.

Temporary Vitality also still works like before. However, the maximum Temporary Vitality now equals your Will Stat plus your Level.

Narrative Momentum has not changed. The only difference is that you no longer need it for Cinematic actions and reactions.


You have no features or Abilities, only Skills. You start with 9 Skill Points. Skills work just as before

The only things that you get when you Level up are more Skill and Stat Points. You gain them at the same rate as before. Your Tier (and the associated limit to Stats and Skill Levels) also increases at the same rate as normal (every 3 Levels).

Your Initiative is your Dexterity plus your Instinct. Your AthleticsQuick FingersAnalysisGrace, and Improvisation Skill Levels no longer affect Initiative.

There are no more Defense Rolls.

Alternative Leveling and Character Creation

One of the main ways to adjust IWS is by changing the general power level of the characters. Here are a couple of ways how you can adjust the characters to make them more or less powerful.

Mere Mortals

Maybe you want your characters to stay in a more realistic strength range and ensure that even at higher Levels, two shots from a pistol stay a deadly risk for your players. Maybe humans in your world can only become so good at what they do and are limited, preventing them from becoming epic heroes that could take on dragons and armies on their own. For that case, I recommend the Mere Mortals optional ruleset.

The following changes are applied to your Characters when you choose this ruleset:

  1. Your Character does not gain a Path.
  2. You only gain additional Vitality and Willpower once at Level 1.
  3. Your maximum Temporary Vitality is halved and does not increase with your Level.
  4. You cannot learn Abilities of Tier 2 or higher, and your Willpower upcast and turn limit stays at 4 when you reach a new Tier.
  5. Any Features or Talents that scale with your Level instead scale with your Tier.

Only Human

Maybe you just want your group to be a couple of everyday humans without highly trained skills. Maybe you are just a group of detectives trying to solve a murder or plane crash survivors stranded on an island. The Only Human optional rule set is excellent for a more down-to-earth game.

The following changes are applied to your Characters when you choose this ruleset:

  1. Your Character does not gain an Archetype or Sub-Archetype and no features or proficiencies that come with it.
  2. Your Character can not gain any Talents, Paths, or Abilities.
  3. You start with 9 Skill Points. You can gain proficiency with one category of weapons or armor by spending one Skill Point. To gain proficiency with heavy armor, you need proficiency with medium armor, and to gain that, you need proficiency with light armor.
  4. The only things your Character gains with a Level up are additional Skill Points, Stat Points, and Tier changes.
  5. You cannot gain Temporary Vitality or WP.
  6. Your Will Bonus is added to your Narrative Momentum.
  7. Crafting and upgrading items takes twice as long.

Epic Heroes

Maybe your group wants to indulge in pure power fantasy and never fear that their characters might die. In that case, you might want to choose the Epic Heroes optional ruleset.

The following changes are applied to your Characters when you choose this ruleset:

  1. The Vitality that you gain per Level is doubled.
  2. You do not start bleeding if your Vitality drops below 1.
  3. You gain an additional Skill Point per Level.


The Free-Style leveling system allows you to remove almost all character creation restrictions. This alternative rule set is for people who wish for absolute freedom and do not need any rails to guide them.

When creating a character, you do not choose any Archetype or Sub-Archetype. You instead choose a creature class. You gain the following benefits depending on the creature class that you selected.

ClassVitality per LevelWP per LevelAbilities per LevelWeapon CategoriesArmor
Fighter721 every even Level3Light, Medium, Heavy
Hybrid5312Light, Medium

You start with two Abilities. You can learn any Ability you want, no matter what Archetype restrictions they usually have.

Whenever you gain a Level, you gain one Creature Talent. This means they can get either one Greater Talent, two Lesser Talents, or one Path. You can only choose a Path once, though. You can also choose one Tier 5 Sub-Archetype feature if you have all other features of that Sub-Archetype and are of at least Tier 5. They can do so only once. You start with two Creature Talents at Level 0.

Your character starts with 6 Skill Points. They can have any Primary and Secondary Stat as long as it is not the same Stat. They can have one of the following Stats as Evasion Stats: Strength, Intelligence, Charisma, or Instinct.

Negative Levels

Negative Levels are an option for those who want to start as a blank slate with barely any combat proficiencies but still want the potential to become great heroes. This alternative rule allows you to start your character’s journey with Level -2 or -1.

When you are Level -2, you have no Archetype, Sub-Archetype, or Path. You have only proficiency with Simple weapons and no proficiencies with any armor. You only have 14 Stat Points and no Abilities.

At Level -1, you gain an Archetype but no Sub-Archetype. You gain 7 Stat Points for a total of 21. You learn one Ability.

Once you reach Level 0, treat it as you would normally.

If you are using the Free-Style leveling rules, you start with no Creature Talent, no additional Skill Points, and one weapon proficiency at Level -2. At Level -1, you gain one creature class, one Creature Talent, and six Skill Points. Handle Stat Points like with the normal negative Levels rules.

Scaling Size and Area of Effects

The standard space size of 1 m presumes that most of the creatures and characters in your campaign will roughly be 1 m x 1m x 2 m big. There are cases, however, where that is not the case. What, for example, do you do if you play a game where all the players play as Kaju? Or what if you play as cells in a human body? In such cases, you can just scale all the standard 1 m to whatever size fits your setting best. For the Kaju, you could have 10 m x 10 m x 20 m as your standard Medium size. For the cells, it could instead be 10 µm x 10 µm x 20 µm. Everything else, like Ability and weapon ranges, and Basic Movement can just easily scale from the baseline you and your group agree upon.

Alternative Resting

You can find alternative options for resting here should you find that the normal resting rules are too unrealistic or too limiting.

Realistic Resting

The Realistic Resting rules are great if you prefer gritty realism and hardcore resource management. It is an excellent fit with the Only Human ruleset if you want a far more realistic experience.

  1. Short and half rests have no effect.
  2. You only gain 1/10 of your maximum Vitality, WP, and Narrative Momentum after a full rest (minimum of 1 each).
  3. Any features and upgrades that normally regain all usage after a full rest only regain them after three full rests.

Casual Resting

The Casual Resting rules are for anybody who prefers non-stop action and does not want to worry about limited resources.

  1. A short rest only takes 5 minutes.
  2. A half rest only takes 1 hour, and you can take them as often as you like without losing their effects. You also regain half of your maximum Narrative Momentum after a half rest.


Ishanekon: World Shapers does not have background options like some other TTRPGs. One of the main philosophies of IWS is that you can freely create what you want without being restricted by preset backgrounds, heritage, species, races, or whatever you want to call it. Some groups, however, like such choices. This alternative rule is for those people.

You can create your own backgrounds by using some Traits that have a Trait point sum of 4, but we do have some finished backgrounds, which you can find here.

Severe Wounds

Written by goldzephzellian

A hero’s journey does not end so easily…

This rule greatly increases the overall survivability of PCs, and when stacked with Epic Heroes, makes it highly unlikely that a character will ever die unless a player wants them to.

Whenever a character dies or otherwise permanently leaves the control of the Player (such as through Madness), they may instead take a Severe Wound. When you take a Severe Wound, the GM chooses either Body or Mind. They then roll on the following table with a d6 to see what Trait you get to represent your Severe Wound (alternatively, the GM can select any trait depending on the circumstances; I’d personally only recommend up to -4 Traits, and only if the killing blow is particularly nasty):

Roll BodyMind
1Gimped Leg – Limping OR Bad JumperNight Terrors – Light Sleeper
2Blinded – Blind OR Twilight BlindCombat Shakes – Bad Technique OR Shaky Hand
3Permanently Vulnerable – Elemental, Mystic, Psychic, OR Reality Vulnerability (or Critical Vulnerability if applicable)Fear – Fear of Physical Damage, Fear of Specific Damage, OR Phobia
4Lost an Arm – Missing ArmLost Spark – Uncreative OR Unlucky
5Nasty Scar – Weak Skin OR Critical WeaknessWillpower Deprived – Weak-WilledLethargic, OR Low Willpower
6Sick to Stomach – No way I’ll drink this!Bound By Tragedy- Bound to Divinity OR Impulsive Behavior

This Trait cannot be removed by regular means. When you take a Severe Wound in this way, you become untargetable for the rest of a Combat and are unconscious at 0 Vitality. After Combat, you become conscious again after 1d4 hours with 1 Vitality.

If you would ever take a Third Severe Wound, you die instead. Your body and/or mind simply cannot take any more punishment.

Severe Wounds can be removed through the following Ability:

Cure Severe Wound (8WP, 1h Time, 5m Range)

You can remove a Severe Wound from a target within range. They lose whatever trait was associated with that Severe Wound.

Archetypes: Creative, Mental, Nature, Reality, Technology

In addition, at GM’s discretion, certain Severe Wounds can be removed through other means or can ONLY be removed through such means.

Author’s Note: I recommend against allowing lower-end Resurrection magic in games with Severe Wounds since it lowers the meaning of death in the setting.